IMPROVING YOUR PROJECT'S QUALITY
There are a few simple steps that can facilitate your quality control efforts on any commissioning project.
External Quality Control
Customer checks and balances: Provide your customer with a list of commissioning deliverables and benchmarks. Other than a Commissioning Plan, many customers are unclear what the commissioning provider is supplying. Clearly listing your deliverables in the Commissioning Plan will help keep your tasks on track, and help keep your client informed.
Commissioning meetings: How many meetings are you intending to hold? What is the purpose of each meeting? List the main meetings in the Commissioning Plan. Your list demonstrates a well organized process, and can also provide the Owner with an improved sense of control. On each meeting’s Agenda, consider including some check boxes that indicate the progress of your commissioning deliverables.
Project communication: Copy the Owner and architect on all project communication. To assist with internal quality control, copy your company’s principal-in-charge as needed.
The "squeaking wheel principle": People respond to certain "squeaks." When you have OPEN items that other parties need to respond to, use the best possible resources to help you get it done. There is no one on the project better skilled at follow-up than the general contractor. And there is no one on the project who people will respond to quicker than the Owner. Typically, these two teams are going to be happy to help you - it's in their collective best interests.
Internal Quality Control
Reviews: Have your main deliverables reviewed by a peer or a company principal. Another set of eyes can be really helpful in counterbalancing the tendency of your project becoming “over-familiar”.
Deliverables and invoicing: There is value in associating a hard deliverable with invoicing. While it may be no more than a simple Site Inspection Report, a deliverable gives the team a reminder that commissioning activities are occurring, and provides an opportunity for questions as well as a reminder/tickler for follow-ups.
Standards: Develop standard commissioning documents that have been proven over time. Get rid of unnecessary language and content, but don’t sacrifice rigor or thoroughness. Find the balance between standardization and the flexibility to customize. Standardization can help create a familiar process that you feel comfortable with; it helps keep you from losing your place.
Guidelines: Speaking of standards, whose guidelines are your documents and your processes adhering to? BCA? PECI? ASHRAE? AEE? AABC? All of the above? Are all of your commissioning documents compatible with one or more guidelines? Does your Commissioning Plan spell out which guidelines you are following?
You may be doing all of this and more, but it never hurts to go back and review occasionally. And even if your review is only reflective in nature, look at it this way: your QC bullet points are now nearer to the front of your mind, ready to repeat to your customers when they ask you, "So, what do you do on your own team to ensure quality?"