Quality management and innovation in Built Environment
Innovation is important
New ideas, new technologies and new solutions are fascinating. Innovation is always a keyword associated with success. When we talk about innovation within the built environment, BIM is probably the most well-known within the last decade. The innovations can broadly be described within the realms of: People, Process and Technology. These aspects are interrelated critical factors in organization operations, and require investment to achieve realization. For many organizations, the first step is probably purchasing new software and hardware first, finding someone talented, and then reviewing processes; minimizing impact to replace the traditional process currently in use. However, without considering corporate context and connecting adoption with key performance indicators, the possibility of failure will grow proportionately with the size of investment.
Frictionless adoption within Quality Management Systems
To adopt an innovation successfully, it must be integrated into an organizations management system. As the most recognized quality management system around the world, ISO 9001 defined core PDCA management cycles to ensure qualified outcomes to continuously satisfy client needs. Here we introduce some key principles to implement innovations in accordance with ISO 9001.
In the beginning, organizational context and stakeholder's expectations should be considered properly. Such as:
- Internal and external issues related to adoption being collated;
- Top management presenting their commitment to support adoption;
- The quality policy could be refined to include goals and objectives that the innovation can support; and
- Considering identified risks and opportunities with organizational policy.
With quantified targets, an organization could agree and prepare resources to support adoption. For example, human resource can consider planning, recruiting certified professionals and providing the necessary training. IT infrastructure, such as hardware, software, and network configurations could be procured.
After resource preparation, adoption can begin. No matter what services your organization provides such as: Conducting virtual design and construction and information management or introducing intelligent on-site health and safety management system into your organization. The key concept remains the same; operating defined processes within a controlled situation.
In dealing with client's requirements, the capability and capacity of organization toward proposed scope of service shall be ensured. For services within the built environment these competencies may be required for years or even decades. For example:
- The capability to undertake risk management process including risk identification and analysis before agreeing to undertake a contract; and
- In implementing the concept of circular economy into mechanical services design to aftercare.
During a project’s design and development stage, the initial requirements can be considered inputs or constraints to the design process. The design outcome should be monitored and verified to reflect these input and constraints. For example:
The master plan shall conform to the urban planning regulation and meeting minutes of public enquiry; the construction process shall follow the blueprints of the master plan in planned schedule.
Of course, project team member should be evaluated before appointment and collaboration in the delivery process.
Prior to completion, the release of outputs such as products and services shall verified against the initial requirements and any acceptance criteria. Any products and services that fail to meet this verification shall be identified and corrected.
Check and action
Following adoption, performance evaluation can be measured through an organizations existing management system to ensure the validity of the product or service. Internal audit and yearly management reviews should be conducted to identify opportunities for continuous improvement with the current management system having successfully adopted an innovation as well as benchmarking against key performance indicators. Lessons learnt are treasured knowledge to improve management systems, they should be considered with great care.
Continual improvement drives profit and benefits
Innovation is a continuous process to explore new possibilities and uncertainty. Organization with well-operated quality management systems are more capable in handling risks and opportunities within built environment sector. With solid management system foundation, innovation such as BIM, Circular Economy and Smart City could be planned and realized in systematic manner. While the world is changing, continual improvement is key to drive profit, realize benefits, and ensure organizational resilience.
Alaric Kuo, Built Environment Product Manager, BSI Taiwan