New Job Offer for Construction QC Manager? Run Away!!!

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The modern day Construction QC Manager is a fraud. Not the person, but the position. The position is a creation of the general contractor’s principles in a effort to portray themselves as a quality driven organization. Meanwhile, it’s not uncommon for a big project to burn through two or more QC Managers during  a project. Why? Because it’s impossible to do the job well.

If you’re competent and conscientious, then you’re the bad cop. You are the one that every operative on a job site avoids like the plague, because if you have something to say it’s going to cost time. You’re either going to slow them down with your petty “compliance” issues or make “extra” work to correct something you don’t like?

Finicky QC managers are death to a tight schedule.

If you’re compliant and a “good guy”, then you’re setting yourself up for a fall. Compliant QC managers let defects pile up. Before you know it, a rain storm blows in and leaves an inch of standing water in every room on the north side of the building because the penetrations weren’t properly caulked. Now the project is looking at a week’s worth of water remediation.

Compliant QC managers are death to a tight schedule.

Here’s a thought. What if Quality Control was given higher profile in the general contractor’s organization? * At that level, executives can plan and implement effective Quality Systems that can not only catch defects and assure compliance, but save time and money during construction by bringing structure and efficiency to preconstruction planning. An empowered VP of Quality can also champion process improvement and hold subcontractors to standards for training and process correction during construction.

While my recommendations may seem drastic and completely impractical, they have already been implemented with great success in the manufacturing sector.  By moving quality up the management chain to the “corner office” starting in the late 70’s, American manufacturers learned the lessons of their Japanese counterparts; improved quality pays off in lower defect rates, lower rework and better schedule performance.

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*A Google search for “Construction Vice President Quality” produced one person with the title “Vice President of Quality Control” (Bravo Colony Paving!) in the first five pages of search results. The only directors of Quality Control were from the nuclear industry (thank God.)  Any other construction vice presidents involved with quality, listed it as their third or fourth area of responsibility.

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7 Responses to “New Job Offer for Construction QC Manager? Run Away!!!”

  1. John Poole Says:

    Safety manager are the same way. They’re the bad guy until someone get’s hurt then they get fired for not doing their job. I would never be a safety or quality guy for GC. I like your VP of quality idea though. Perhaps it could be broadened to the VP of quality and safety.

    • Rob Mathewson Says:

      You’ve got a point there, John. Both roles require long-term planning that is detached from the pressures of a project schedule. Safety and quality also offer significant bottom line savings opportunities for GCs.

  2. matt mckeon Says:

    Safety and QC have to be at the top in order to be effective. John is absolutely right, without proper authority and more importantly, management commitment, these are simply figurehead possitions.

  3. Steve Says:

    I am a construction QA/QC manager in charge of maintaining quality across a campus redevelopment program. I am part of a team of program (typically project executives), project and safety managers. While considered part of the leadership team, I am a one man show. I set the system up, and I conduct all the inspections. It all comes down to the level of buy in from the project staff. Confident, senior managers tend to welcome me to their projects, and typically have specific things they want me to verify and document. Others would rather me never step foot on their projects. I enjoy the position, overall, but understand that I have to deal with a lot of people being angry with me. Support from the operations manager makes it all bearable.

  4. Fred Vernon Says:

    I was fired on August 23, 2009 from a large Navy building project in California. Most of my problems were with a plumber that would rather take more time debateing issues than to actually do the work right. The last issue was bringing in a guy to weld a live gas main hot tap that was not certified to do so. If something went wrong the first question asked would be, “Who let him do it?” It is a messed up system that requires the QCM to insure to the Navy the are getting safe quality and the not back him up then watch him get fired by the GC for doing the job.

  5. Dick Baker Says:

    Been there, done that; didn’t even get a tee shirt!
    I’ve been QCM on a number of state prison projects, hospitals, and refineries as well MilCon projects and QA for NavFac and Corps and milcon and civil works projects. Also been QA for a major airport project, as THIRD PARTY!!!!! And I’m convinced third party QC/QA is the only way to go. A good QC can have no direct relationship with the Contractor, at any level, because they’re in basic conflict from the get go. Kicking it upstairs only makes the fraud worse, in my opinion. Been in too damn meetings and listened to too many lies from QCM with ‘corner offices’.

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