NCRs, Defects or Snags?

This is puzzling pretty much everyone in construction and it has historically been confusing in contracts, in procedures and even in regular meetings across the industry and even on a project level.

The main reason is that all of them are deemed as extremely negative elements in a project.

I totally understand this to be honest, especially when there is a blaming culture in a company but the main problem is that it’s only by recording, analyzing and monitoring the nonconformances, that improvement becomes reality.

Which one would you trust the most?

Project A: 0 NCRs are raised throughout the project’s lifecycle
Project B: 10000 NCRs are raised, recorded and analyzed during the project’s lifecycle

I can tell you that I am more confident on Project B meeting the Client’s, Design and any other statutory requirements.

At least…someone has been checking compliance in Project B.

The issue with the terminology, though, is not helping either.

From one hand, we have the QSs and the legal teams that have to deal with contract defects and on the other hand we have to comply with the ISO 9001 terminology.

I still haven’t figured out how to deal with this, because there are so many incompatibilities between contracts and ISO 9001 nowadays and the main reason behind this is that Quality stuff are never part of contracts management or creation so the language is completely different.

How are you dealing with this?

That is 100% accurate and I fully agree with you Josh.

Hi there,

You’ve highlighted a critical issue that resonates with many in the construction industry. The dichotomy between contract management and quality assurance can indeed be perplexing.

In my experience, transparency and a proactive approach are key. Here are a few strategies that might help bridge the gap:

  1. Integrate Quality into Contracts: Involve quality assurance teams early in the contract creation process. This ensures that quality requirements and ISO 9001 terminology are embedded into the contract language, reducing future conflicts.
  2. Clear Communication: Foster open communication between QSs, legal teams, and quality assurance personnel. Regular meetings and workshops can help align understanding and expectations across these different functions.
  3. Training and Awareness: Provide training sessions for all stakeholders on the importance of NCRs and their role in continuous improvement. This can help shift the perception of NCRs from negative to constructive.
  4. Standardized Procedures: Develop standardized procedures and documentation that align with both contractual and ISO 9001 requirements. This can create a common language and streamline processes.
  5. Data-Driven Decisions: Use the data from NCRs to inform decision-making and drive improvements. Demonstrating the tangible benefits of addressing NCRs can help change the culture and reduce the blaming mentality.

Ultimately, it’s about creating a culture that values continuous improvement and understands that recording and analyzing NCRs is a vital part of achieving high standards. How are others in your forum addressing this issue? It would be great to hear different perspectives and strategies.


Hi @audrey_mitchell and welcome to our forum! I hope you will find it useful in its early days.

These are excellent points and I have personally found it quite difficult (at least in the UK) to integrate the quality terminology (or the ISO9001 terminology) in the construction contracts as they are usually copied and pasted from previous contracts and there is not much willingness to improve or change as there is a always some fear that a contractor would take advantage or exploit any new clauses.

This comes down to how educated about Quality Management in general people in this industry are. Very little I dare to say…

As soon as a new tender/bid is considered I have also created in the past a scoring table to evaluate the “quality performance” of the companies that bid on a specific package of a project. In many cases, I have even carried out thorough pre-qualification audits which made things even more clear in regards to their systems and their approach to quality.

Sometimes, everything seems perfect on the paperwork but it’s only when you talk to people that you realize things can be pretty bad in terms of quality culture in an organizaiton.