An Approach To Application Of Total Quality Management In Building Maintenance Operations
For many years the performance of building projects has continued to deteriorate. Many criticisms have been directed to the construction industry for general shoddy workmanship. The low emphasis on the use of quality management practices can impact negatively on productivity and project performance. The objectives of the study are to: evaluate the level of use of quality management practices at pre-contract and contract stages of construction projects; evaluate the contributions of project team members to quality performance of construction projects; compare the level of use of quality management practices among selected procurement methods used in the construction industry at pre-contract and contract stages of construction; and to compare the level of use of quality management practices between public and private client types at pre- contract and contract stages of construction. The study focuses on evaluating the level of use of construction quality management practices by stakeholders and their impact on project performance with a view to avoid poor quality projects so as to meet client’s satisfaction. A survey research design approach was adopted to achieve these objectives. A field survey involving 165 professionals (Consultants, and Contractors, in Akwa Ibom state) that were involved in building construction projects was conducted. Data were collected using structured questionnaires and analysed using mean item score (MIS), Kruskal Wallis H test and Mann- Whitney U test. The result reveals a significant relationship between level of use of quality management practices and the project performance. Clearly, to improve project performance requires construction firms to re-examine the level of usage of appropriate quality management practices in their operations from the onset of a project by the lowest to the highest personnel, for better project performance. This will go a long way in changing the negative story of the construction industry in Akwa Ibom state and Nigeria as a nation.
1.1 Background to the Study
Quality management is a way of managing to improve the effectiveness, flexibility and competiveness of a business as a whole (Oakland, 1993). In construction the problem of quality and its value of importance to the construction industry has been an area of great concern and debate for many a year (CIRIA, 1990 in Marasini and Quinnell, 2010). The construction industry is widely criticized for the low quality of delivery of construction projects both the finished product quality and also in the processes used during the project design and construction stages. Significant time and cost is currently spent in correcting problems during the snagging process and the majority of projects either suffer from time overrun. There is a growing and continuous interest in quality improvement in the construction industry all over the world. Quality professionals use a number of definitions to define project quality.
Quality in its simplest form can be defined as: ‘meeting the customer’s expectations,’ or ‘compliance with customer’s specification.’ (Jha and Iyer, 2006). No matter what definition we follow for quality, it becomes very complex when we try to put it into actual practice. For a user, quality is nothing but satisfaction with the appearance, performances, and reliability of the project for a given price range. (Jha and Iyer, 2006) In the realm of project management, the schedule, cost and quality achievement is also referred to as the iron triangle (Ankrah and Proverbs, 2005). Out of these three aspects, it is the achievement of schedule and cost compliances that the project management is attending to most of the time. This results in a half-hearted attempt to achieve quality at project sites. In order to achieve the schedule and cost objectives, project quality is sometimes also overlooked. Although many studies have recognized the importance of maintaining and doing quality projects these aspects are sacrificed in lieu of achieving short-term objectives, such as handing over of some critical structures, or only part of the structures falling in the critical path etc. Barnes (1987) emphasizes that the control of the performance of the installation, building or engineering structure should be managed in the same way as the management of time and cost. For many years, the Nigerian construction industry has been viewed as one with poor quality emphasis compared to other sectors like manufacturing and service sectors. The Nigerian construction industry produces nearly 70% of the nation’s fixed capital formation (Federal Office of Statistics (FOS), 2004), yet its performance within the economy has been, and continues to be, very poor. Many criticisms have been directed to the construction industry for generally shoddy workmanship. As a result, quality performance improvement has remained a recurring theme in all the major reports including Sir John Egan’s landmark ‘Rethinking Construction’ report (Egan, 1998). For this improvement in project performance quality to be achieved, it is essential to investigate the factors that cause poor quality performance. Bubshait and Al-Atiq (1999) observe that contractor’s quality management practices, which ensure consistent quality, are essential in preventing problems and the reoccurrence of problems. Beyond these, it has been suggested, mainly on the basis of anecdotal evidence, that certain factors such as quality assurance practices, quality control practices, quality management practises also have a significant impact on quality performance by virtue of the influence they have on the way participants approach work. Unfortunately, importance given to these factors by the construction industry can at best be described as marginal, and most of the discussion has been discursive. It is against this need that this research project is being undertaken with research hypotheses designed to provide answers to questions relating to the quality assurance practices used, the quality control practices used, quality performance parameters and their relationship and, the way forward taking into consideration critical factors that affect quality performance of construction projects. This study will provide a significant contribution to the body of knowledge on the ‘Assessment of Quality Management Practices on Quality Performance of Construction Industry’ specifically in but not limited to Akwa Ibom State and to Nigeria as a whole.
1.2 Statement of Research Problem
In spite of the progress made in project delivery over the years many construction projects still lack in the delivery of quality structures. Quality outcome in projects can be measured in three categories namely: producing a building which satisfies the client; producing a building where quality is related to the price; producing a building where sufficient time is spent to obtain the desired quality. Quality management represents increasingly important concern for project managers. Defects or failures in constructed facilities can result in very large costs. Even with minor defects, rework may be required and facility operations impaired. Increased costs and delays are the result. In the worst case, failures may cause personal injuries or fatalities. There are many basic questions which still remain unanswered or at best have only been addressed fairly. For instance, what are quality assurance, quality control and quality planning in the construction industry, and do they even exist? Is there any evidence that on different quality assurance practices, quality control practices and quality planning practices influence quality performance of construction projects, and if they do, do they lead to significantly different performance outcomes? These are fundamental questions that need to be addressed through research. An appreciation of how contractor quality management practices, in whatever form, affects the profitability and performance of construction projects will help with the process of quality assurance, quality control and quality planning. Few previous studies focused mainly on the management systems and techniques, procurement routes and construction methods (Larson, 1997; Proverbs, Holt and Olomolaiye, 1999). The overall project performance improvement agenda of the construction industry requires improvements in products (right at first time), the delivery (in terms of quality, cost and time), and the sustainable development of construction firms (profitability and competitiveness) as opined by Xiao and Proverbs (2003). The stakeholders are challenged with how to deliver projects of the best quality according to specification without delay or additional cost. The major problem amongst the stakeholders is the understanding of how proper quality management practices can affect quality performance. Arising from this, the problem of the study is concerned with determining the quality assurance practices, quality control practices, quality planning practices and factors affecting quality performances of construction projects in the study area.
1.3 Research Questions
In addressing the research problem this study will provide answers to the following questions:
- What is the extent of use of quality management practices in the construction process at pre-contract and contract stages?
- What are the levels of contribution of team members to projects outcome?
- Does the level of use of quality management practices differ at pre-contract and contract stages?
- Does the level of use of quality management practices differ between public and private client types?
1.4 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The aim of this research is to investigate an approach to application of total quality management in building maintenance operations in Akwa Ibom State.
The objectives of this study are to:
- Evaluate the level of use of quality management practices at pre-contract and contract stages of construction projects;
- Evaluate the contributions of project team members to quality performance of construction projects;
- Compare the level of use of quality management practices among selected procurement methods used in the construction industry at pre-contract and contract stages of construction; and
- Compare the level of use of quality management practices between public and private client types at pre-contract and contract stages of construction.
1.5 Hypotheses of the Study
In an attempt to evaluate the quality management practices in construction project, two research hypotheses were postulated. The hypotheses state as follows:
- H1: There is no significant variation in quality management practices among selected procurement methods used in the construction industry at pre-contract and contract stages of construction
- H2: There is no significant difference in quality management practices between public and private client types at pre-contract and contract stages of construction.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study evaluates the level of use of quality management practices at pre-contract stage and contract stages of construction work. The knowledge of the level of use of these practices at these stages of construction work will help to identify practices that are peculiar to the different stages of work which will assist stakeholders to focus on the pertinent practices for effective quality performance of construction projects. Furthermore, the study evaluates the contribution of the different stakeholders to quality performance of construction projects. The knowledge of this will help to identify parties whose involvement in quality management could be solicited for improved quality performance of construction projects. The comparison of quality management practices between public and private client types will reveal whether there exist difference or not in the quality management practices utilised by the two client types. This knowledge may help to identify practices that could be peculiar to a client type that may assist the other client type in enhancing quality performances of their construction projects. Similarly, this study is significant in providing information on the variation of quality management practices at both contract and pre-contract stages of construction across selected procurement methods used in the construction industry. This information will help stakeholders to know if there are practices peculiar to the different procurement methods for effective quality planning and enhanced quality performance of construction projects.
1.7 Scope of Study
This research study investigates the approach to application of total quality management in building maintenance operations in Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria. The investigation covers pre-contract and contract stages of the lifecycles of projects executed by the construction companies surveyed in the study. The post- contract stage was not considered because very few projects have post-contract agreements with the contractors. In addition, quality management practices are initiated at the pre-contract stage and mostly executed at the contract stage of the project lifecycle. This study also compares quality management practices across selected procurement methods namely Traditional, BOOT, Design and Build, Management Contracting, Partnering and Construction Management being the procurement methods utilized in the study area. The influence of client types on quality management practices of construction companies were also investigated. However, only public and private client types were covered in the study because Public-Private-Partnership client types are still few in the study area. This study examines the quality management practices of construction companies operating in Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria. The study area was selected for the study due to the spate of construction activities in the State necessitated by increased Federal Government revenue allocation to the State as the largest producer of crude oil in the country.
Summary, Conclusions and Recommendation
The construction industry has numerous problems in getting the best performance as a result of the complicated nature of the industry. The aim of this research is to investigate the quality management practices of construction companies with a view to ascertaining their influences on project performance in Akwa Ibom State. To help achieve this end, a number of objectives were put forward. The summary presented here outlines how these objectives were achieved.
The level of use of quality management practices of construction companies is not significantly different across selected procurement methods at pre-contract stage but is significantly different at contract stage. This is so because at the pre-contract stage all procurement methods have similar procedures’ in quality management practices right from the drawing board to the tender but at the contract stage where construction actually takes place each parties perform different roles according to the diverse procurement methods and the success or failure depends on the implementation of the right quality management practices for the specific project with respect to its procurement method. The level of use of quality management practices at pre-contract and contract stages does not differ significantly between public and private client types because the implementation of quality management practice is for all projects no matter the client type.
The study has established that construction project requires adequate quality management practices and that quality management practices at both pre-contract and contract stage have significant influence on performance of construction projects. The proper interpretation of clients’ requirements and the use of clean, concise and precise written work instruction is of great importance on project performance. Completing a project in accordance with the required standards is one of the three major performance elements generally used for evaluation of
performance in construction. The study has also established that the nature of the construction industry though fragmented needs every team member’s effort in the delivery of projects in time, within cost and in the best quality. The efforts of each of the team members have also been deduced from the study to be influenced by the procurement methods. These findings show that the delivery method adopted for each construction project only changes the context and the relationship of team members in time and the various level of impact of each team members’ contribution which is influenced by the procurement method of the project is important in achieving the best possible project outcome. These findings show that no matter the procurement methods the level of use of quality management practices do not differ at pre-contract stage but does at the contract stage. These findings also show that the client type cannot affect the level of use of the quality management practices, no matter the client the outcome should be same and as such the level of use should not differ due to the diverse client type. These findings show that, there is need for more attention to be put into quality management practices in the Nigerian construction industry. This is essential for the long awaited turnaround in the performance of the projects dished-out into the built environment of Nigeria.
This study focuses on assessing quality management practices of construction companies on different procurement methods, client types and construction stages so as to enable project stakeholders to be aware of their effects on project performance. Arising from the findings and conclusions of the study it is recommended that:
- Proper interpretation and use of quality management practices should be enforced by the stakeholders in the building industry.
- All team members should collaborate with each other to achieve the goal which is to have the best outcome.
- Concerted efforts should be directed towards improving the use of quality management practices at the contract stage of construction work across the procurement methods used in the study area.
5.4 Suggestion for Further Studies
The following areas which could not be covered in this research are suggested for further studies. They include:
- To determine how synergy among construction team members can affect project performance.
- To determine the specific quality management practices for selected procurement method at contract stage.
- To assess the influence of the level of use of quality management practices on performance at post contract stage
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