QAQC is the “secret ingredient” to success

Posted in: Air Service, Architecture & Interiors, Aviation, Bridges, Building Engineering, Construction, Cultural Resources, Energy, Environmental, Food & Beverage, Military, Municipal, Transportation, Water

Girl making cookies holds cup of chocolate chips in front of mixerMy 11-year-old daughter Ella has been baking cookies since she was seven. Over the years, she has perfected a classic—the delicious, mouthwatering chocolate chip cookie. Not a week goes by without the sweet aroma of treats permeating our family’s kitchen. Ella wants to be a professional baker one day, and certainly has the talent to do so. Was she born with these innate abilities? Perhaps. But her talent in the kitchen also stems from careful observation and mentorship over time.

At a very young age, Ella was glued to her mom’s side in the kitchen, soaking in information like a sponge. As Ella was learning to measure ingredients, who was there checking that it was sugar and not salt? Who helped to ensure that no eggshells got into the batter? Ella’s mother, as a talented cook herself, was able to help her learn the ins and outs of culinary success. I personally did my fair share of taste-testing the cookie dough. All to help Ella, of course!

We all need mentors to guide us and check our progress. Do new employees understand the value of checking their work to confirm it follows the prescribed design criteria—or recipe for success? When a new employee starts, do they know what your organization’s expectations are related to quality assurance/quality control (QAQC)? If they do not, the consequences can be a lot messier than some salty cookies.

Quality is a huge part of our company culture. We value taking care of people and doing the right thing, and this includes providing engineering services that meet or exceed expected quality standards. That’s why we have QAQC Guidelines and an associated training program that introduces new employees to a set of desired goals and expectations. It also introduces them to a series of tools and resources for successfully completing QAQC.

As we learned with Ella, the best way to learn is often through mentorship and observation. Seeing a real quality check performed can do wonders to help new employees understand how the tools available to them can be used, and how an established check-in schedule works to guide the process and keep design on track. It is also important for an experienced employee to explicitly call out goals and expectations and explain available tools to new people. Finally, don’t forget to recognize and commend a job well done as the QAQC process comes to an end.

I benefit when my daughter follows a stringent QAQC process while baking—nobody likes salty eggshell cookies. In the same way, clients benefit from a firm’s QAQC process. Thanks to our QAQC plan, we can provide valuable, workable and efficient solutions.

Nathan Rockwood, PE, SE

About the Author

Nathan Rockwood, P.E., S.E., leads our Sacramento office, managing workload resources and bolstering relationships internally and externally. He provides structural design for water resources projects including dams, pump stations, water control structures, intakes, outlet structures and control buildings.

Read more posts by Nathan Rockwood, PE, SE

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