Monday, March 27, 2006

Quality Assurance

This picture from ChCh-Changes caught my eye when it appeared at Kiwiblog, and reminded me of my time as project coordinator on London Underground Projects. (Although I'm a little disturbed to see no one in the picture wearing safety hats. What are they thinking!)

Anyway, the company I was with was installing new fire protection systems to London's underground stations as a response to the disastrous King's Cross fire. (Being a political football, the response had naturally taken several years to happen.) And being a political organisation, all contracts were let with all sorts of expensive requirements, including a then-new example of time- and money-wasting called Quality Assurance. QA.

With a brand new QA system in place it soon became apparent that in one night of work, one door could be replaced by one team of workers. One door. Replacing that one door took one chippy, two labourers, a site manager, a station manager (to sign off the station), an LUL projects manager (to sign off the door), a man with a platform permit (to secure the platform), etc., etc., etc. For an important door, you might also have a 'package manager,' a project coordinator, etc., etc., etc.

The workers could hardly move for people with a tie and a clipboard. And one door would eventually be replaced. You can see why it took so long for the work to be completed. And you can imagine how many truck loads full of paper were produced.

It reminded me of the old Ministry of Works (MoW). Which reminds me of an old MoW joke: The boys showed up to an MoW job back in the good old days, and after a morning drinking tea they eventually headed out to the job, only to discover that there were no shovels to do any digging. After a time spent scratching his nuts, the foremen eventually rang the depot to find out what to do. "No shovels here," he said, "but we have got a few brooms." "Okay," came the response. "We'll have a truck out there shortly. Just lean on the brooms until they get there."

The good old days. Coming back to you courtesy of QA.

LINKS: Are you Herbert? - ChCh-Changes
Herbert - Kiwiblog

TAGS: Nonsense, Economics

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