Charles Cochran, a Project Manager on the Traffic [...]
At Sain Associates, one of our main goals is to have a legacy of quality. We try our best to consistently deliver high quality service and products, but we know we can always improve. This is so important since quality affects profitability, reputation, risk management and more.
But we won’t magically improve if we don’t put in the work. That’s why we started having an annual Quality Control Summit in 2005. Today, this means that each of our teams (Site Engineering, Transportation, Survey and Administration) takes a day to have an in depth meeting to focus just on quality.
Each of these teams is different, so each Quality Control Summit is different. I attend each meeting, but I don’t tell them when to have it or how to organize it. The day always involves getting out of the office so we can reduce the distractions and interruptions.
Everyone who is part of the team is required to attend, including those who work in the office, in the field and at our branch offices.
I always open with some comments, but this isn’t the type of meeting where just one or two people do all the talking. We want the entire group to be engaged in the discussion.
One of the things I ask in every meeting is: “Who is responsible for quality?” The answer is every one of us. That’s the kind of mentality we have, and it’s important for us to discuss it so everyone knows what it means.
Every person in the group is also responsible for sharing some type of lesson they’ve learned from the past year that has to do with a quality issue. We document these issues and what people learned, and it’s helpful to be able to go back and look at that information. The sharing is not intended to shame or punish staff for mistakes, but to help all our staff learn from each other’s experiences.
We also talk about our Project Delivery Systems, which is basically how we execute a project. Every project involves many pieces and moving parts, so it’s important we have a refresher on each area and how to deliver high quality every step of the way.
At the end of the meeting, we talk about goals and action items to work on during the next year. Over the years, we have seen significant progress in terms of improvement. I think our teams enjoy the collaboration and teamwork as well, which is really important. I believe all our staff see the benefit to having regular Quality Control Summits. Our hope is that our clients see it too.
Sain Associates, Inc., is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, with offices in Cullman, Alabama, Pulaski, Tennessee and Mandeville, Louisiana. Sain is a site engineering, traffic/transportation engineering and planning and land surveying firm with experience in more than thirty states.