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Business Management / Coronavirus

March 30, 2020

How Do We Maintain Quality When Everyone’s Working Remotely?

By Miro Kurka

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the ways most architecture-engineering (AE) companies operate. As they minimize travel, maintain social distance, and shift largely toward remote work, AE firms are now executing charrettes, studies, designs and meetings virtually. How this will work over the long term will depend on how well firms were prepared and how quickly they can adapt. One critical area that cannot be overlooked in this new virtual workplace is quality assurance and quality control (QAQC).

One of the hats I wear at Mead & Hunt is the leader of our Corporate Quality Committee. Over the past 18 months, we have put forth a major effort into quality communication, quality education and training, and technology to help with QAQC reviews and documentation. These efforts are now paying big dividends as over 90 percent of our team is working remotely.

A good Quality Management Program (QMP) must contain elements of both Quality Assurance and Quality Control. The difference between these two elements is explained in a previous blog.

Quality requirements do not change when working remotely. Fortunately, thanks to our excellent IT team and our Corporate Quality Committee, we have the tools to execute our QAQC processes even when we are all working from home.

Mead & Hunt’s intranet has a specific QAQC page containing just about everything you’d ever want to know about QAQC at Mead & Hunt. In addition to overall Corporate Quality Guidance and Group QAQC Plans, there is specific “how-to” guidance with detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to track, conduct, and document QAQC reviews using Bluebeam Revu. The COVID-19 crisis caught us in the process of completing our switch to Bluebeam Revu for quality control edits, with some of our more senior architects and engineers still preferring to review printed drawings. With everyone working from home, we’re all forced to use Bluebeam Revu. However, because of its very powerful tracking and documentation capabilities, the completion of this switch from paper to Bluebeam should make our quality program even better!

Our Corporate Training Site has a specific Bluebeam Revu for QAQC course and our three Bluebeam “champions” are available at any time to help guide you through the process. For non-design projects, we have developed a list of best practices that our team can access remotely. Finally, thanks to our corporate IT team, everyone can share documents and conduct online reviews and video chats through Microsoft Teams.

All this digital guidance and collaboration allows us to quickly adapt to the current situation. The fact that more than 90 percent of our teammates are working remotely should not degrade our quality efforts. We have the training and resources available. Ultimately, in these times of uncertainty, good QAQC remains as important as ever—if not more so. With a little creativity, collaboration, and teamwork, we at Mead & Hunt are committed to prioritizing our QAQC processes. We know the success of our clients, and therefore our communities, depend on it.

Miro Kurka is the water resources group leader at Mead & Hunt and chair of ACEC's Federal Agencies Procurement Advocacy Committee.


All comments to blog posts will be moderated by ACEC staff.

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