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This chapter will attempt to present the framework adopted for collecting and analysing the data for this research. Therefore, the sections in this chapter will explain how the questionnaire was designed, and how a pilot prior to the research was carried out to identify any errors or weaknesses, which led to subsequent amendments. Further sections will explain the information letter that accompanied the questionnaire for clarification and assurance of confidentiality, as well as explaining how the survey population was determined. Finally, the responses to the questionnaires are analysed, and the findings are presented graphically, such as pie charts and bar charts.
5.1 Questionnaire design
The questionnaire was designed with 17 questions, and these were divided into four different sections, and the first section intended to discover the background details of the respondents. In the second section, the questions were intended to discover the level of awareness of how their organisation had implemented quality management. The third section intended to examine quality management more deeply by asking the respondents to explain the rationale for quality management presented by their organisation. In the final section, the respondents were asked for their perceptions of the responsibilities and roles of the main stakeholders in a construction project, as well as seeking opinions regarding the relationship of quality management and project failure.
Therefore, this questionnaire was designed with the following objectives:
To discover the participants' awareness of quality management procedures in their own organisations,
To examine quality management implementation in Saudi construction organisations more deeply by identifying the participants' understanding of its rationale,
To discover what techniques and tools for quality management are currently being used in the construction industry in Saudi Arabia, and
To find out the responsibilities and roles of those involved in construction projects, and how these contribute to quality management.
5.2 Ethics and confidentiality
The questionnaire was distributed with a covering letter that explained to the respondents that they were not required to complete the questionnaire, but that the responses would contribute to valuable research into quality management in the construction industry. The letter also explained that the responses would be confidential and anonymous, and that these would only be used for academic purposes for this research study. Moreover, the letter explained the intention of the questionnaire and how to complete this. I also included my contact details, if any participants needed to ask questions.
5.3 Pilot Study
According to Naoum (2007), a questionnaire should not be distributed until a pilot study has been carried out, so that the wording of the questions can be tested for clarity, questions that imply ambiguity are amended and that the technique for gathering the data is also tested for reliability.
Therefore, by adopting the findings of literature on data collection, this study used a pilot study to check the reliability of the questionnaire prior to its distribution by arranging interviews with some managers of organisations who are responsible for implementing quality management. In addition, I discussed the design of the questionnaire and its framework structure with my supervisor prior to its distribution to Saudi construction companies.
5.4 Questionnaire amendments
The pilot study produced valuable feedback on the questions and design of the questionnaire, and these comments helped me to make amendments to the questions to avoid misunderstandings and any unintentional bias of the researcher. Therefore, all the questions focused on the objectives listed earlier in this chapter. When revised, the questionnaire was sent by post and email with a covering letter that explained the research purposes of this study to various construction organisations in Saudi Arabia.
5.5 The survey population
The researcher selected construction organisations in Saudi Arabia that would be included in this survey, and 100 questionnaires were distributed by email and by post. After a sufficient time period for completion, 20 questionnaires were returned, which were considered sufficient for analysis for this research. Nevertheless, a higher response rate of 30% had been anticipated, but the completed questionnaires represented a 20% response rate, which, although low, remains valid for this study.
Figure (11) Completed questionnaires
5.6 Questionnaire data analysis
5.6.1 Question 1: Describe your job position.
This question intended to discover the management level of the respondents in their organisations
Figure (12) Participants' level of management
This pie chart (figure 12) illustrates the respondents' job positions with 43% representing upper management, such as senior project managers or general managers, and 57% representing middle management, such as project managers.
5.6.2 Question 2: Identify your professional qualifications and education level.
This question aimed to discover the educational background of the respondents.
Figure (13) Percentage of respondents' educational background
Figure 13 provides information on the respondents' education background, and this shows that 60% held a Bachelor degree, which demonstrates the largest percentage of the respondents. This was followed by 35% of respondents that held a post-graduate degree, and 5% of respondents held a relevant professional qualification.
These responses demonstrate that most managers have an educational level of bachelor degree; however, the successful implementation of quality management would normally require project managers or quality managers to have achieved a post graduate degree level. Therefore, this suggests that most respondents lack a sufficiently high educational background, but would have overcome this weakness by developing professional experience in this industry. Nevertheless, this is unlikely to be sufficient for the successful implementation of quality management processes in the majority of Saudi construction organisations, and these findings suggest that most managers are insufficiently qualified for quality management overall.
5.6.3 Question 3: What length of time have you worked in the construction industry?
The intention of this question was to determine the respondents' level of experience in the construction industry.
Figure (14) Respondents' work experience
Figure 14 illustrates that 50% of respondents had worked in the construction industry for over 10 years, and 20% of respondents had 5 - 10 years experience in construction. However, around 30% of respondents demonstrated significantly less experience of working fewer than 5 years.
5.6.4 Question 4 : Describe the average size of your organisation's projects.
The intention of this question was to determine the size of the respondents' organisation by estimating their annual turnover.
Figure 15 Average project size
The results showed that 55% of the respondents' organisations were involved with projects valued over 20 million SR, which demonstrates the majority in this survey. 25% of respondents' organisations were involved with projects valued between 5 - 10 million SR, as the second largest value sector. The results also showed that 5% of respondents had an average size of project of 10 - 20 million SR and 10% of respondents had an average size of project of less than 5 million SR. High value average projects were only represented by 5% of the respondents.
This survey was intended to examine a broad range of construction organisations with regard to quality management processes, rather than one value sector, but this may be considered a limitation for this research, as the results may differ with a focus on one value sector.
5.6.5 Question 5: Has a quality management policy been implemented in your organisation?
This question intended to discover the respondents' awareness of the significance of quality management in their organisation.
Figure 16 Organizations that have implemented a quality management policy.
These results demonstrate that more that half the respondents' organisations (55%) had not implemented a policy for quality management; however, 45% of the participants' organisations had already implemented a policy.
The conclusions drawn from these results are that most organisations demonstrate insufficient awareness of quality management, or the potential benefits that can be achieved by implementing strategies for quality management.
5.6.6 Question 6: Do you consider that quality management could be improved if your organisation had a more effective quality management policy?
This question intended to discover the respondents' awareness and opinion of a policy for quality management.
Figure 17 Opinions regarding a policy for quality management
The results from this question demonstrate a positive opinion regarding the need for an effective policy for quality management, as 25% of respondents strongly agreed and 75% agreed for the need for an effective policy. This represents 100% of participants were in agreement for the need for a quality management policy; therefore, no respondents disagreed with this.
Thus, it may be concluded that all respondents are aware of the opportunities and have sufficient knowledge of the benefits of a quality management policy. This also suggests that respondents recognise the need for performance improvements in all process stages by managing processes to achieve excellence, such as teamwork, measurement indicators for performance and managing processes for customers, suppliers and deployment. Moreover, the definition of quality within the concept of construction management is currently considered as total quality management; therefore, this implies all aspects of an organisation need to manage their levels of quality, and seek to improve all these aspects.
Moreover, the results from this survey support the findings from the literature review that identifies that in the construction industry, a critical success factor is effective quality management. The processes of construction require significant investment to complete a project successfully, and need to reduce the possibility for errors to a minimum level; therefore, implementing quality management tools and techniques effectively are likely to contribute to improving performance standards.
5.6.7 Question 7: Describe your quality management approach.
This question was intended to discover the respondents' approach to quality management in their organisation.
Figure 18 Quality management approaches
These results showed that 60% of respondents approached quality management in a systematic approach; however, in contrast, 30% of respondents had no set procedures to achieve quality management. Furthermore, 10% of respondents indicated that their approach was based on experience or rule of thumb.
Therefore, most respondents support the findings of the literature on this subject, which emphasises the importance of a systematic approach to achieve effective quality management. Nevertheless, the findings from this survey suggest that in construction projects, it may not always be practically possible to follow a systematic approach due to the differing nature of projects. As a result, project managers often have to use their knowledge and experience to ensure quality standards are achieved in construction projects by using their background knowledge of specific projects.
5.6.8 Question 8: Who has the responsibility for implementing quality management in your organisation?
The intention of this question is to discover the individual responsible for quality management in organisations.
Figure 19 Responsibility for quality management
The results for responsibility for quality management indicate that in 55% of organisations the project manager is responsible for quality management, but in 25% of organisations there is a manager specifically appointed to manage quality. However, other respondents indicated that quality management was the responsibility of different professionals, such as a grand manager (10%), a quantity surveyor (5%) and the director (5%).
The international standards for quality established by ISO 9000 states that organisations need to have a quality manager to manage quality within an organisation overall. Nevertheless, project managers in construction projects are usually responsible for maintaining quality standards, as they also have a responsibility for the project overall. Moreover, the findings from this survey indicated that organisations that were small or medium in size were less likely to have a quality manager, as the project manager was expected to adopt this role. In contrast, larger organisations tended to have a quality manager as well as a project manager, who was responsible for the completion of the project overall.
5.6.9 Question 9: Is ISO 9000 used as a standard of quality in your organisation?
This question was intended to discover if participants' organisations were attempting to deliver quality standards described in ISO 9000.
Figure 20 Organizations attempting to achieve ISO 9000 standards
The responses indicated that most organisations (65%) are attempting to adopt the standards required by ISO 9000 or similar quality standards. However, although a significant percentage of responses (35%) indicated that their organisations did not seek to achieve these standards, these respondents worked in small or medium sized organisations. Therefore, this suggests that an organisation's size may be a critical factor in determining whether IOS 9000 standards are likely to be attempted. Furthermore, these results cannot imply that the organisations represented in the 35% responses that answered negatively had poor quality standards.
5.6.10 Question 10 & 11: Do you contribute to decision-making regarding techniques and tools that could be adopted for quality management in your organisation? What techniques and tools for quality management do you use?
This question aims to discover what techniques and tools are used for controlling quality in construction organisations, and whether organisations seek the opinions of their managers for quality management processes. (Objectives 2 and 3)
Figure 21 Tools used for quality control
The responses from the questionnaire demonstrated that all were consulted and were involved in decision-making regarding techniques and tools of quality management that could be adopted. Furthermore, the responses showed that respondents used a range of techniques for quality control, such as check sheets (90%), graphs (55%), pareto analysis (35%), force field analyses (30%), scatter diagrams (20%) and tally charts and histograms (10%). Therefore, figure 21 demonstrates that organisations use a range of techniques to control quality standards.
Overall, the quality manager or project manager could select a wide range of techniques or tools to control quality in a construction project, and although these might be selected due to individual preferences or based on previous experience, most project managers would select techniques or tools that would be most appropriate according to the size of the project and the size of the organisation. Despite the answers to this question, the limited responses for this survey overall mean that no conclusions can be drawn regarding the tools and techniques currently adopted in the Saudi construction industry, as this may depend on the size of the project and organisation, as well as the expertise and experience of the project manager. Nevertheless, these findings do indicate that organisations do appear to use a variety of techniques and tools, and are likely to adopt those that are easy to use and understand, such as check sheets.
5.6.11 Question 12: Do you use any of these quality management tools?
This intends to discover what tools are currently used for quality management in construction organisations. (Objectives 2 and 3)
Figure 22 Quality management tools currently used
The responses from this question indicated the range of tools for quality management being currently used in construction organisations, such as tree diagrams (52.6%), matrix data and analysis method (26.3%), affinity diagram methods (21.1%), arrow diagrams (15.8%) and relational diagrams (5.3%). However, no respondents claimed to use the matrix diagram method for quality control.
Therefore, these results provide an indication of quality management tools currently being used in Saudi Arabia, but the selection of tools is likely to depend on the preferences and expertise of the project manager or quality manager, as well as being appropriate for the size of the project and the size of the organisation. However, although the tree diagram is shown to be the most commonly used quality management tool, this should not be interpreted as representing the best tool for quality management. Moreover, as project managers and quality managers have access to a wide range of techniques and tools, it is likely that they would use a variety of these that match the requirements of the construction project.
5.6.12 Question 13: What benefits may be gained by adopting quality management processes?
This question aimed to discover what benefits respondents perceived could be gained from implementing quality management processes. (Objective 1)
Figure 23 Perceived benefits of quality management processes
These results demonstrated that 65% of respondents agreed that costs are reduced as a result of quality management, but 20% disagreed that this led to cost reductions. However, all respondents (100%) agreed that job satisfaction was achieved through quality management, and 95% of respondents agreed that decision-making was improved by quality management, and no respondents disagreed with this. In addition, all respondents (100%) agreed that product and service quality and customer satisfaction were improved by quality management.
However, some of these findings may be challenged, as although most respondents agreed that costs were reduced by adopting quality management, additional costs are incurred by quality management processes, so that this perception may be incorrect. Therefore, the cost benefits need to be greater than the additional costs required for quality management; for example, a completed construction project may demonstrate very high levels of quality, but as a result is expensive and then is difficult to sell for a profit, which may be described as a project failure.
Furthermore, the findings from this survey indicate full agreement that quality management is responsible for job satisfaction, as finished products that demonstrate good quality create a feeling of satisfaction for workers. Therefore, workers' contribution to creating quality products or services leads to their improved motivation and belief in quality standards. Moreover, this belief, motivation and job satisfaction of workers gives organisations a competitive edge and contributes to improving performance overall, as well as achieving strategic targets.
Therefore, whilst construction organisations may decide to adopt quality management to achieve benefits of improved performance suggested in these survey findings, the role of the project manager or quality manager is to balance these benefits against increased costs of implementation to ensure there is benefit overall to the construction project and to the organisation.
5.6.13 Question 14: What activities are adopted by your organisation to control quality in design and construction phases?
The intention of this question is to discover what activities are currently used to control quality in Saudi construction organisations.
Figure 24 Current quality management activities
The results from this question provide a valuable indication of the range of activities currently being used by construction organisations in Saudi Arabia. Therefore, the activities most commonly used (over 75%) include:
Review and approval of documents,
Control of changes to documents,
Control of procurement documents,
Positive material identification,
Materials and equipment retrieval,
Review of work regulations,
Verification of equipment,
Qualifications and testing of employees,
Calculation checks of design drawings,
Review of clients and designers comments, and
However, all respondents used the activities of control and distribution of documents and planning for construction.
Nevertheless, activities that were not adopted (over 25%) include:
Establishment of checklists,
Initiation of a safety programme, and
Compliance with insurance requirements.
However, over half the respondents indicated that their organisation did not adopt the activities of laboratory testing of materials, procedures related to compliance with accepted criteria or responsibilities for performing quality verification actions.
Furthermore, the survey results demonstrate that only large-sized organisations adopt all these activities for quality management.
5.6.14 Question 15: Has your organisation offered you training for quality management?
The intention of this question is to discover whether respondents have received training from their organisation for quality management.
Figure 25 Respondents who have received training for quality management
These results show only a small percentage of respondents (15.8%) have received training from their organisation in quality management; however, respondents commented that quality management would be more effective if more training opportunities were available. Therefore, these results have implications for organisations, as their quality standards are likely to be raised further if they improve the training opportunities for their project managers and quality managers.
5.6.15 Question 16: What are the main duties and roles for quality management in your organisation for designer, contractor, sub-contractor and consultant?
This question intended to discover the respondents' perceptions of duties and roles of four principal professionals in their organisation. (Objective 4)
The respondents included the following perceptions of these professionals' duties and roles:
Designer - designing the project to meet the requirements of the client, including quality, improving design performance, lowering costs, understanding what clients need and meeting regularly with the client.
Contractor - follow ISO requirements for quality, attempt early completion of projects, saving costs without reducing quality, ensure everything is provided for the project, and to design, construct, monitor and complete the project.
Sub-contractor - carries out construction activities, carries out similar types of work activities, complies with contractor's requirements, supports the work of the contractor and understands what the contractor needs.
Consultant - offers consultation advice, controls and manages the project's quality, mainly responsible for quality issues, and checks that requirements for quality control and design needs are met.
Therefore, these perceptions of the main duties and roles for quality management suggest that the respondents have insufficient understanding of these professionals' duties in contributing to quality management.
5.6.16 Question 17: Why do you think some construction organisations do not implement quality management in Saudi Arabia?
The intention of this question is to enable the respondents to express their views and opinions regarding reasons for the failure of some Saudi organisations to implement quality management.
The reasons for failing to adopt quality management was perceived by the respondents to include the following:
No one has responsibility for carrying out quality verification,
Organisations do not offer training for quality management,
If quality is raised, then the timescale and costs will increase,
Inconsistent quality of materials supplied,
Construction organisations have little experience of quality management,
Insufficient planning periods,
Ineffective management leading to insufficient focus on quality, and
Some organisations have insufficient understanding of the importance of quality management.
5.7 Findings and discussion
Most of the respondents of this survey have had over five years experience working in the construction industry, which is illustrated in figure 14, and as a result of this experience, the analysis of the findings and responses is based on data that may be described as reliable and valid for this research study.
Moreover, the results from the survey demonstrated many factors that influence effective quality management in Saudi Arabian construction organisations. These findings may be summarised as follows:
No objectives or vision have been established,
Senior managers do not support quality management implementation sufficiently,
Profit has a higher organisational focus than quality services,
Procedures and written policies for quality management do not exist in some organisations,
Clients' requirements and needs lack systems for feeding back information,
Quality management lacks sufficient written information that is easily understandable by construction organisations,
Employees fail to understand the concept of quality management,
Limited knowledge and experience levels for those responsible for improving quality,
Senior management lack conviction for total quality management or for accepting change,
Organisations seeking to win a specific award by applying total quality management without sufficient focus on core functions,
Problems need to be overcome before implementing new processes,
Increasing the speed of production without recognising developmental or standard stages,
Organisations attempt to motivate employees to implement quality management by threats and negative actions,
Activities to improve quality controls and administrative and technical controls become confused,
Some managers are ineffective and inefficient as they appoint relatives to their teams who are unqualified and inexperienced, which weakens the organisation's quality management, and
The Saudi Arabian government has introduced systems and sanctions to raise standards of quality management, but these lack follow-up action.
The findings from this survey have made a valuable contribution to this research study, and the objectives of the questionnaire that was distributed to a representative sample in the construction industry in Saudi Arabia produced some very interesting data. A review of the literature indicated that little research has been undertaken into the implementation of quality management processes in construction organisations in Saudi Arabia, and this study intended to fill this gap in knowledge.
The findings from this survey indicate that professionals' perceptions of quality is a system of correcting errors or weaknesses, and that for workers to apply quality, they need training, guidance and help to improve work performances. Moreover, they perceive that improving standards of quality management processes requires organisations to adopt procedures that are standardised and opportunities for training and higher education to raise the levels of qualification and expertise.
This chapter has explained how the data for this research was collected, by describing how the questionnaire was designed and subsequently amended after the pilot study was completed. The revised questionnaire was issued to a variety of construction organisations in Saudi Arabia, and a small percentage of responses were returned, but were sufficient to validate this research. This chapter has analysed and discussed the data that was gathered, and the objectives of the questionnaire were successfully achieved in gaining perceptions and awareness of quality management in Saudi Arabia, as well as examining more deeply the respondents' understanding of the rationale of quality management, and to discover what tools and techniques are currently used to control quality standards in the country. However, the perceptions, understanding and implementation of quality management in Saudi Arabia appears to depend strongly on the size of the construction organisation, as respondents from large organisations demonstrated better knowledge and experience of quality management than those from smaller organisations.
Conclusions and Recommendations
This chapter intends to explain the conclusions for this study that are based on the review of the literature into quality management implementation, particularly in Saudi Arabia and the findings from the survey of professionals in Saudi construction organisations. In addition, recommendations will be suggested for raising quality standards in construction projects based on the findings from this survey. Furthermore, this research was unable to examine all aspects of quality management; therefore, this chapter will also make recommendations for further research pathways for this subject.
This study has attempted to examine and define the elements of quality management in design and construction phases of construction projects in Saudi Arabia, as well as discussing the obligations, duties and roles of those involved in construction projects, and how they may contribute towards and influence quality management. To meet this aim, the following objectives were established:
To define the activities of quality management in the design phase,
To define the activities of quality management in the construction phase, and
To consider all those who may influence and contribute to quality management, particularly their obligations, duties and roles.
The literature studied that focused on quality management influences on design and construction in the construction industry in Saudi Arabia revealed that this area has been insufficiently studied, but the limited studies with this specific focus and research into quality management in general contributed valuable opinions and information. Moreover, this literature review helped to define quality in design and construction, particularly in attempting to interpret terminology that often appears to be the same. However, the definition of quality has also been extended in this study to include its relevance to construction and design processes, as well as management activities. As a result, this enabled the information of quality management to be subjected to analysis, and then the achievement of quality was discussed by using different activities and processes.
Furthermore, this study has explained how the obligations, duties and roles of professionals in the construction industry can affect the levels of quality management, and the work of consultants, contractors, sub-contractors, project manager and quality manager, as well as the obligations, duties and roles of the organisation and client. As a result of the literature review, the traditional obligations, duties and roles of stakeholders in construction projects have been changed by the introduction of quality management processes, and this study has explained that there is a joint responsibility for standards of quality for all stakeholders, some of which now have added responsibilities. One significant change in construction projects is that a quality manager is often appointed, particularly in larger organisations, and clients have a much greater involvement in the design and construction phases, particularly for monitoring quality and feeding back information. Therefore, this study has found that quality management will only be successful in construction projects if all stakeholders contribute to this concept's processes and goals.
Larger organisations have recognised the importance of quality management, but some construction organisations in Saudi Arabia demonstrate less understanding of its value. Findings also indicated that whilst larger construction organisations attempt to comply with ISO 9000 standards, these standards are often perceived to be difficult for small or medium organisations in Saudi Arabia.
Nevertheless, the size of the organisation is likely to determine the role of each stakeholder's obligations, duties and roles, as normally quality managers are only likely to be appointed in larger organisations, and quality management is often the responsibility of project managers or other professionals in medium and small construction organisations in Saudi Arabia.
Therefore, from the results of the survey undertaken for this study, respondents indicated a wide range of tools and techniques are used for quality management processes, but the most common quality control tool appeared to be check sheets, and the most common quality management tool appeared to be tree diagrams. Overall, the findings from the survey suggest that large organisations use a variety of quality management tools and techniques, but that these are used less by medium and small organisations for quality control. However, it should not be concluded that medium and small organisations produce poorer quality construction products, but rather that they appear to rely on experience instead of using standard measures of quality.
Therefore, to achieve quality standards within construction projects, project managers or quality managers have the authority and responsibility to address quality issues and complete the project successfully, but this depends on whether the project manager's contribution to quality management is effective and efficient, and this is likely to be dependent on their experience, expertise, training, higher education and qualifications.
The focus for this research has been to examine the implementation of quality management in Saudi Arabia, and to discover why some organisations have failed to recognise the benefits and value of this concept in the country. As a result, the findings from the survey have provided an indication of some of the reasons for this failure, which need to be addressed so that performance in the construction industry in Saudi Arabia may be improved through quality management processes, and that weaknesses and failure can be overcome.
Therefore, this research study has successfully achieved its main aim by meeting all the objectives established and has presented perspectives on the activities of quality management for the design and construction phases of projects in Saudi Arabia, the contribution of quality management to improving performance and the importance of the duties and roles of professionals, such as the project manager, contractor and consultant, as well as the client and organisation.
This research has undertaken a comprehensive review of the literature on the subject of quality management, and its methodology adopted a survey approach to gather data that would justify the findings and conclusion; therefore these recommendations are based on these.
To raise standards of quality in the design phase of construction projects in Saudi Arabia, consulting firms are recommended to address the following factors that influence quality management:
Employees' level of education,
Checks of design calculations,
Checks of drawings,
Clarity of design documentation,
Effective systems for communication,
The design team should be technically qualified,
Projects need realistic cost estimates,
Progress reports should be submitted regularly,
Plans and specifications need to be uniform, concise and clear,
Accessibility to facilities of the office library, and
Arrangements for project peer and organisational reviews.
To raise standards of quality in the construction phase of construction projects in Saudi Arabia, consulting firms are recommended to address the following factors that influence quality management:
Inspection of items that have been purchased,
Retrieval of equipment and materials,
Workers need to be appropriately qualified,
Equipment and procedures need verification,
Maintain quality records,
Establish an incentive system,
Encourage employees to extend their education,
Evaluate the work of sub-contractors,
Test materials in situ,
Undertake laboratory tests of materials,
Effective planning for construction,
Effective systems for communication,
Effective systems for reporting,
Establish safety programmes, and
Create checklists for quality.
6.3 Recommendations for further studies
This research, its methodology and its findings were subject to limitations of time for completion to meet the course deadlines; however, further studies into quality management implementation in the construction industry in Saudi Arabia would provide further valuable knowledge and the following research pathways are suggested:
The value of cost coding systems in relation to activities of quality management, as well as corrective reworking, which could be integrated,
Whether a work breakdown structure (WBS) could contribute to improving quality by tracking work package costs for design and construction phases, and
To consider whether performance can be improved through implementing quality cost tracking in start up, procurement and pre-planning activities.