The method provided in this appendix provides an approach to establishing a quality management methodology in the architectural practice. It outlines four principles, four attributes, toolsets, and eight habits as adapted from Brian Palmquist’s An Architect’s Guide to Construction – Second Edition: Enduring Ways in the Age of Immediacy.
Four Principles: Quality management, whether in design or construction (or any endeavour), is underlain by four simple principles:
- RECORD the journey – Each project should have a specific work plan describing all of the processes and procedures (including instructions and associated forms or templates). Each project-specific work plan should come from master documents that the practice maintains and evolves.
- RESOLVE the issues – No matter how comprehensive the work plan is, unexpected issues arise. These need to be managed to resolution in a standard, logical fashion.
- REVIEW the results – As design and construction work is executed, the emerging work product (whether drawings, models, built form, etc.) should be reviewed with sufficient frequency to maintain the expected level of quality. As a minimum, that expected level of quality needs to meet client and community (public) expectations.
- REMEMBER and learn to improve – As new knowledge emerges during a project’s design and construction, and as lessons are learned, these need to be efficiently and quickly captured, peer-reviewed, disseminated and used to refine the practice’s procedures, instructions, forms, templates, etc., for future projects. This is usually the most challenging principle to implement and maintain.
Four Attributes: All of the existing and emergent knowledge and experience of any architectural firm’s quality management system needs to be integrated with the firm’s four principles. In other words, the work plans, forms, templates, etc., need to be consistent with all of the details around clients, communities, etc.
One way to capture and manage this complexity is to organize it by subject or attribute. There are four types of attributes that will capture virtually all architectural practice knowledge:
- Core functions are the basic services provided by architects. CHOP is one example of a list of core services; provincial/territorial regulators will have local variations.
- Collaborators are the people architects work with in design and construction. Each collaborator has unique requirements and expectations:
- Conditions are the locational and constructional attributes of our work:
- cost (range);
- calendar (schedule);
- construction (type);
- complexity (warehouse, hospital, etc.).
- Concepts are the unique considerations each practice brings to its work. These may include particular ways of analyzing or evaluating design, actual design concepts that may be replicable, etc.
Three Toolsets: The specific tools and techniques used by a practice will change over time, but all of these will be focused around just three toolsets:
- Work Plan – Again, CHOP is one framework for a work plan, as it describes the range of activities that need to be considered for a practice or project. Any or all of the four types of attributes noted above can be integrated into a project-specific work plan. Today’s relational databases make this much easier than before.
- Actions – These are the day-to-day activities that arise during design and construction. Many are standard and repetitive, such as submittal review, mockups, etc. Others are issue driven or emergent, such as RFIs, risks, etc. The number and nature of actions varies widely from project to project.
- Knowledge – As work plans are followed and actions are undertaken, opportunities for new or refined knowledge become evident. It is important to have the necessary tools to efficiently identify knowledge changes, have them peer-reviewed if necessary, disseminate them and integrate them into future projects.
Eight Habits: Lastly, architectural quality management benefits from eight habits or a sequence of eight considerations that are applied to architectural practice:
- Concentrate – Collect and organize the information needed for a project or task. This includes the creation and updating of a master work plan as well as the action templates used to enact it.
- Initiate – Actually start a task. This may sound self-evident, but the crisp initiation of a task or project is often missed.
- Validate – Once a task is started and data is collected, often from others, that information needs to be reviewed for validity before it is accepted or otherwise acted on. This may seem self-evident, but under the pressure of a project in progress, it is easy to accept information without examining it for relevance and completeness.
- Communicate – Once information has been validated, it will need to be communicated to some members of a design and construction team. Again, this may seem self-evident, but in fact the explicit communication, including verification of transmission, is frequently missed.
- Mitigate – Where there are problems with a design or its construction, these need to be resolved. An example during design might be the identification but not resolution of a risk such as a riparian right of way. A simple example during construction would be the identification of a deficiency in workmanship.
- Evaluate – Whether it be a straightforward project element that has been communicated, or an issue that has been mitigated, what has been communicated needs to be evaluated to verify it is correct and complete.
- Terminate – After evaluation, a design or construction step, element or action needs to be clearly identified as completed. Designers and builders frequently forget to close completed actions and work plan steps, exposing themselves to claims for negligence or unprofessional conduct if issues arise later, or if there appears to be a pattern of apparently ignoring the formal closure of issues.
- Educate – After a work plan step has been completed in a way that should modify future work plans, or an action has been completed involving modification of the form or procedure, the modifications as well as the reasons why and lessons learned should be communicated to colleagues so that future efforts are continuously and systematically informed by current experience.