Five essential tools to look for in a defect management system

30 October 2019

All of us working in the construction industry have dealt with a defect, at some point, that has set the project back in time and money.

It seems obvious that project managers would have a plan in place when it comes to defect management. However, you'll be surprised at how many companies are still managing defects the same way they have been for the last 10 years; with a pen on paper or on excel.

Projects that have moved to using automated systems over manual systems can demonstrate an increased quality and efficiency of defect close-outs. It is human nature to take short cuts and let the smaller defects slide by - automated systems provide greater transparency in projects as the defects can’t be forgotten about or skipped and the management process becomes a lot smoother.

There is now a vast range of defect management software out there designed to streamline the process. It will pay off to invest some time into researching the various solutions and seeing what works best for your company by taking advantage of free trials and demos.

After testing different methods of defects management, the following is a list of tools that I’ve considered necessary for an effective defect management system:

  1. Unchangeable due date
    It is important to be able to input a due date that can’t be edited. This allows you to keep track of slippage when the actual close-out date varies.

  2. Detailed location
    Being able to assign a defect to a precise location helps speed up the contractor's work. It makes the process of identification and close-out a lot faster and smoother with less back-and-forth between the project manager and contractor. The most efficient way of logging a defect is to be able to pin-point it on an architectural layout.

  3. A 'comments' section allocated to each individual defect that cannot be deleted
    This improves transparency and provides a track record. This tool can be used to provide daily/weekly updates as well as providing efficient feedback and clarity where there is confusion between the parties.

  4. Notification system that notifies higher parties when defects become overdue
    One of the most effective tools that drive the closing out of defects is the ability to notify the directors of all companies involved once a defect becomes overdue. No one likes to be exposed.

  5. Diverse reporting structure
    It is imperative to have a reporting structure that is concise and easy to read, containing only the information that is relevant to the receiver. If the client is reading it, all he/she needs to see is how many defects are outstanding, when they will be closed-out and what is being done about the ones that are overdue. Whereas, if it is the contractor receiving the report, it would need to contain a lot more detail.

It is crucial that all defects, due dates and comments cannot be deleted. This is so that if a defect is resolved and resurfaces somewhere down the line, you have access to a full track record of when and why the issue was previously closed-out.

The following table is a basic comparison between a few of the defects management software on offer in NSW, based on the above mentioned criteria:

CriteriaAconex FieldSnagRTenderfieldOnsite - iionACCEDE
Unchangeable due date
Detailed location
Floor plans
Comments section
Photo evidence
Automated notification system
Simple reporting structure
Range of reporting options (summaries/charts) ✓
Definable categories 

The primary objective when using one of these software is to reduce time and money spent on defect rectification by making the process more efficient. It is therefore important to choose a system that suits the magnitude and complexity of your project.

As project managers, as long as you have a solid defects management plan in place and use the technology that everyone has glued to their hands, you can dramatically reduce your project's risk and increase the quality outcome that you promise your clients.

Article written by Catherine Atkinson
Junior Project Manager, Cerno