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Constructive Candor

Did you learn your lesson?


Inspection on your project should consist of a combination of quality control and quality assurance. This process is on-going and the end result is a project completed to specification with an acceptable level of quality.

Your “perfect” project was likely not perfect throughout construction. It’s certain that the construction contractor and quality assurance inspector found mistakes. It’s also likely that those mistakes or non-conformance involved workmanship, materials, and/or design. Mistakes can be expected and should be anticipated. While they cause you headaches, it’s important to remember that there’s value in these mistakes. There’s value in those annoying issues that slow down production and need to be re-worked. That value comes in the form of “lessons learned”

Perform a Root Cause Analysis

When non-conformance issues are identified during the construction process, your inspectors and contractor should be performing a root cause analysis to determine the root cause of the identified non-conformance issue. Was it a construction method that caused the issue? Was it a design flaw that caused the issue? Was there a hole in the inspection process (either QC or QA) that allowed the non-conformance? Were faulty or poor quality materials the cause? The answer may be a single cause or it may have a few contributing factors. Either way, those answers are the lemons that you can use to make lemonade.

Act Right Away

Okay, here comes the value part: Now that you have your root cause and have identified your contributing factors, what are you going to do with the information? Write it down and log it for discussion at the end of the project. Take that “learned lesson” and insert it back into your processes to eliminate a repeat mistake or non-conformity.

If we’re talking about a design issue it should be elevated to those parties responsible for the design so that adjustments can be made for this project as well as the next one. If the non-conformity was a result of poor inspection processes, QA and QC need to determine how to tighten up that phase of inspection to ensure that type of non-conformity is identified and doesn’t slip through the cracks. If the issue involves craftsmanship, those items need to be brought to the attention of crews so they can change their work methods to prevent future mistakes.

Don’t wait until a project is over to apply “lessons learned.” Identify issues early and apply them to improve quality immediately. Mistakes will happen, you can count on that. What you shouldn’t have to count on are the same mistakes being made over and over again or a mistake transferring from one project to another a year later. Identify trends and use those mistakes to improve your process and results.

Do you have any "lessons learned" that you'd like to share? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments, below.

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Topics: Energy, Energy Transmission & Distribution

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