Quality management and the power of trust in the built environment sector: the industry needs to get its 'huose' in order

'huose'?! That was a basic error on my part, a silly mistake to make! But... what if it had been something as critical as a wrong dimension on a drawing that could have cost your client millions!? Suddenly that basic error has had a way more far reaching impact than you could have imagined possible.

With this type of mistake, we can illustrate how important 'quality' is, and why ISO 9001 was developed decades ago by an international community of experts. Without having the robust structure of a quality management system in place within your organisation, the probability of errors occurring magnifies, and the knock-on effect of this is a loss of trust.

However, the challenge is that ISO 9001 is of course pan-sector, but we all do things differently. So how can one process govern cars/cities/space shuttles? This is the rationale behind why certain sectors chose to develop their own specific set of additional requirements and clarifications to those within ISO 9001.

This is the point we now find ourselves within the built environment sector. The industry believes an additional layer of requirements, specific to the sector, will enable a clearer benefit to be seen amongst organisations who choose to implement a quality management system. These organisations are those that aspire to move away from decisions that historically were based on the lowest cost for the manufacture of construction products, and more towards ensuring that products across the supply chain are fit for purpose. This would lead to a greater level of trust evident throughout the supply chain and help ‘raise the bar’ across all those who operate within the sector.

We will then be in a better position to clarify things such as project relationships, how to work more collaboratively, eliminating or at least reducing the amount of rework and improve the resilience of construction companies, thereby reducing huge post-contracts costs. This would ultimately have a major impact on improving quality within the built environment sector by embedding the concept of 'getting it right first time'.

As such, development of BS 99001 is underway, entitled: Quality Management systems – specific requirements for the built environment sector, which is being developed by a set of experts who work within the Built Environment sector, as well as expertise from the Quality Management community. The standard will mirror the structure of ISO 9001 whilst adding additional requirements which are aimed at helping expand upon each of them, so that they become more relevant and helpful when used by organizations operating within the Built environment.

Go to standardsdevelopment.bsigroup.com and subscribe to know exactly when a draft becomes available for comment and when it is finally published – hopefully by the end of 2021.

Only you can help to keep our 'huose' in order!


Ian Richardson, Sector Lead at BSI