Carillion and quality management: Readers’ comments

3 April 2018

Carillion collapse 01/03

“I was disappointed with the extent of negativity towards the outsourcing sector in the wake of the Carillion failure. 

“Lord Adonis affirmed that there have been very many successful large contracts undertaken for government departments and this is a major sector of our industry.

“It is usually the case that large contracts of this nature offer significant savings, principally in the efficiencies of the back-office operation and the removal of duplication.

“Clearly, however, there are lessons to be learnt from Carillion’s demise. When letting large public contracts, there are government guidelines about the inclusion of SMEs in the supply chain, and a requirement for payment in 30 days. The question has to be asked of government departments why they did not take action when this contract requirement was not being upheld.

 “This does not mean that all large contracts are bad, but it does reveal once again that government departments are sometimes lacking in the commercial skills to manage these contracts in a way that can achieve the most successful outcome.”

Ian Watts

Quality management inadequate, say 75% in CIOB survey (01/03)

“A large portion of the problem is that those people who do undertake the correct checks, who do raise the awkward questions, who do act in a conscientious manner toward quality, are often viewed as troublemakers. They rarely receive the support they deserve and that is required if the correct standards are to be met.

“Everyone agrees that the industry culture needs to change; to my mind the change must be driven by clients as it is they who ultimately pay for substandard works and therefore they who, consciously or subconsciously, condone the completion of substandard works.”

Adam Sharp

“This article touched a nerve. There is a lack of respect for procedures and review with regard to quality. A lot of emphasis is made on the finish, and while superficial aspects of quality on a project are all and well good, there is little implementation of such management systems when it comes to structural work.”

Ashraf Chaudhary

“Site managers spend 70% of their time looking at a laptop. With construction companies signed up for ISO 9001 quality management certification, this means site managers have to scan every health and safety document onto their laptop then load them onto whatever internal system they have in place.

“Only if they are lucky enough to have an assistant site manager will they have time to walk the floors and check the standards of workmanship.”

Anthony Carroll

“No matter how many site managers you have on a site, if the frontline worker is not motivated to work properly you will have defects and rework.

“When you hand them over the job they need to receive detailed instructions about quality requirements and you must have regular discussions with them about how they will achieve this objective.

“They must have pride in their work and receive appreciation for their work.”

Eduard Szigeti

“Health and safety has improved massively in the last 10 to 20 years through effective leadership in changing the culture of the industry. Quality doesn’t get the same emphasis and is more about ticking a box than actual standards on site being achieved.

“The clerk of works position needs to be mandatory. Also, more emphasis has been placed on service quality in recent years rather than product quality. The two should go hand in hand – but if the client doesn’t have a clerk of works, then service quality is the only thing they ‘see’.”

Sian Dunne

“Employ enough qualified and correctly trained supervisors to monitor the trades deployed; designers and engineers should only need consultation when a supervisor cannot interpret the detail confidently.

“Most of all, stop pressuring the site supervision and give them time to ensure the quality standards are met without compromise.”

Michael Trevor Cutts

“We focus too much on getting the job done quicker and quicker, and the quality of work has gone by the wayside.

“Large sites are being run by one site manager due to saving costs, and now main contractors expect subcontractors to supervise their own work.”

Gary Waterton

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