Lean Quality in Construction Project Delivery

A new model and principles


Advances in Project Management Series


By John Oakland and Marton Marosszeky

UK and Australia


Construction Industry Challenges and Solutions

All industries are undergoing rapid change under the pressure of technological innovation and changing client needs. The construction sector is no exception, the past 10 years has seen accelerating globalisation, a demand for larger and more complex projects, and a requirement for them to be delivered in ever shorter timeframes. Meanwhile clients of the industry are increasingly concerned that this sector is not keeping pace with the rates of improvement seen in other sections of the economy. In addition, in this sector, the rate and cost of errors in quality and safety have been too slow to improve.

In today’s construction industry, many among clients, designers and contractors are seeing BIM (Building Information Modelling) as the silver bullet that will transform the industry. We are convinced that this position is misguided. BIM provides the basis for improved communications within the design team and with external stakeholders, and it provides support for solution optimisation in both the design and construction stages of projects. However, it is no more than a very powerful enabling technology. The authors contend that it is the philosophical foundations of lean quality that will underpin the coming transformation of this sector globally, significantly improving productivity and increasing the industry’s potential for value creation for its customers. This viewpoint provides a foundation for organisational excellence across entire supply chains, it offers a powerful new perspective for policy makers, and helps to create the organisational prerequisites necessary for the effective deployment of technologies such as BIM.

Lean quality a new model for improved outcomes in the construction sector

Pressure from clients and governments as well as commercial competitive pressures have continued to force leading organisations in the construction sector to differentiate themselves on the basis of customer focus, overall product & process quality, cost of products and services and value creation for clients.

In response to these pressures, senior management in leading design and construction organisations worldwide are embracing the philosophy and principles of what we have now called Lean Quality. Often approaching the overall task from different perspectives, some adopt frameworks of performance measurement and benchmarking, others use the goal of continuous improvement while others choose to follow the values and concepts of lean construction. We see these as different perspectives through different lenses of the same broad objective, improving performance in all the activities of a business.

Traditionally, in conversations about quality, the building and construction sector has had a natural orientation towards product quality. Given the complexity of its organisational relationships and traditional craft-based processes, most of the construction quality literature reflects this product focus; providing either a guide to compliance with the ISO9001 quality system standards or pragmatic advice on tools for the control of quality. However, lead organisations in every area of the building and construction industry have recognised that the broad focus that Lean Quality brings to all aspects of organising and managing is as relevant to building and construction as it is to the manufacturing and service sectors. Furthermore, teachers and researchers in building and construction have recognised that a traditional product centred paradigm does not provide a sufficiently broad and robust basis for performance improvement within the sector.


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Editor’s note: The Advances in Project Management series includes articles by authors of program and project management books previously published by Gower in UK and now by Routledge worldwide. Information about Routledge project management books can be found here.

How to cite this article: Oakland, J. and Marosszeky, M. (2018). Lean Quality in Construction Project Delivery: A new model and principles, PM World Journal, Volume VII, Issue 6 – June.  Retrieved from https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/pmwj71-Jun2018-Oakland-Marosszeky-lean-quality-in-construction-project-delivery.pdf

About the Authors

Professor John Oakland

Chairman, Oakland Group
Emeritus Professor, Leeds University Business School, UK




Professor John Oakland, PhD, CChem, MRSC, FCQI, FSS, MASQ is Chairman of the Oakland Group and Head of its Research and Education Division, The Oakland Institute. He is also Emeritus Professor of Business Excellence and Quality Management at Leeds University Business School.

For over thirty years he has taught all aspects of quality management, business excellence and performance improvement to literally thousands of organisations. He has directed several large research projects in Europe which have brought him into contact with a diverse range of organisations. His work on the quality management requirements of industry and commerce has been widely acknowledged and published.  Oakland Group is one of Europe’s leading organisations in helping clients to achieve performance improvement through excellence in planning and the management of people and processes, particularly in large complex organisations.

He is author of several books, including the best selling: Total Quality Management; TQM & Operational Excellence; Total Organisational Excellence, Oakland on Quality Management, Total Construction Management – lean quality in construction project delivery; Statistical Process Control and Production and Operations Management. He has written literally hundreds of papers, articles and reports on various topics in these fields.

Professor Oakland is a Fellow of the Chartered Quality Institute and an elected member of its Advisory Council. John is also a Member of the American Society of Quality, Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society and a Chartered Chemist / Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry.


Prof Martin Marosszeky

University of New South Wales (retired)
Sydney, Australia




Marton Marosszeky
is a civil engineer with early experience in road construction, contract supervision and structural design. He retired from the University of New South Wales where he was the Multiplex Professor of Construction Innovation in 2000 and has been working as a consultant in lean process improvement for the past 12 years. While he has been based in Australia, he has also worked in Canada, Russia, Singapore, Malaysia and the USA, helping major project teams and company executives to adopt lean thinking in building construction, infrastructure and the oil and gas sector.

Professors Oakland and Marosszeky are the authors of Total Construction Management: Lean Quality in Construction Project Delivery, published in 2017 by Routledge.  For information about the book, click here.