Almost every town, city and country in the world has to deal with the frustrations of roadworks at some point or another, but if the same quality management principles that we use in business improvement could be used for road infrastructure, we may find that those annoying roadworks could become a thing of the past. Traffic jams, road closures, flag wavers and what seems to be endless construction on our busy roads become a daily part of a typical commute to work. Even in the most developed of nations, roadwork appears to be something that is just about impossible to avoid. All too often, droves of commuters end up being late for work, due to some sort of problems that arise when roads are being serviced. Companies all over the world have seen huge successes when using systems such as quality management to help improve operations, processes and protocols – wouldn’t it be wonderful if those same systems could work some magic on our road infrastructure, too?
How a Good Quality Management System Could Improve Road Infrastructure
If any given department of roadworks were to be told to adhere to the ISO9001 quality management standards, there would certainly be more than a few gaps in quality. Some of the ways that a typical state run road system differs from a well-run business that adheres to quality standards include the following:
1. Customer complaints management. Needless to say, putting up with road work is something that every motorist has to do… no matter how much of an inconvenience it is to the thousands of people who have to drive at a snail’s pace through a road that is being serviced. In a corporate environment, tools such as customer complaints management software allows for far more communication, and in the long run, a far better level of customer service. Sadly, when roads are due for repair or expansion, the project’s primary goals is to get things done on budget and on time and the effect it has on road users is generally the least important thing for government departments to think about.
2. CAPA and non-compliance management. Sometimes, there are traffic officers or police patrols to be seen while roads are being repairs or expanded. All too often however, road workers are left to do their thing – whether or not they adhere to conformance guidelines. This means that mistakes can (and do) happen. Road markings are placed incorrectly, warning signs are not set out properly, roads are not closed correctly (or they are left closed indefinitely) and corrective or preventative actions are seldom put into motion in the event of anything like non-compliance happening. In a typical company setting however, there tend to be more controls in place to ensure that things go smoothly without compliance gaps. CAPA software certainly helps in this regard.
3. Audit management. Of course, it is possible that post-roadwork audits are done behind the scenes. But wouldn’t it be great if there were ways to review past and current road projects to find out how things could be done more effectively? Just imagine… that slow trickle as cars are let through the barrier one by one could be replaced by a system that allowed a better flow of traffic. Or work could be scheduled at off-peak hours instead of rush hour. There could be many areas for improvement that remain unspotted forever onwards… all of which could be identified with the help of a good audit management software tool. If it works so well for companies who wish to improve internal operations, it stands to reason that it would help on a larger public work scale, too! It goes without saying that, much like forces of nature such as storms, floods and earthquakes, some things are beyond our control. Road construction often seems like one of these things. While we can’t always do much about road repairs besides get through them as best we can, we can however take comfort in knowing that quality management is far easier to control in the business world.