Quality Management Systems (QMS)

July 2, 2011


A Quality Management System or QMS refers to what an organization does to manage its processes, or activities, so that its products or services meet the objectives it has set itself or the requirements and standards set by other groups or standards. ISO9001 is an international standard used by all industrial sectors including construction. This focuses on the customer, leadership, involvement of people, processes, systems approaches, continual improvement, factual decision making and supplier relationships. The aim is to build on consistency and communication.

The NAHB Research Center has two QMS programs tailored for our industry. The National Certified Trade Contractor Certification Program is based on ISO9001 and focuses on driving quality assurance to the home builder’s contractor companies who represent the core of the residential construction industry as they provide nearly all of the skilled labor used to construct the homes.  This program is strongly supported by builders with some paying for over 12 hours of training and manual reviews usually conducted at the builders offices to support the contractors in adopting the systems and becoming certified.  The emphasis has been to ensure that a complete chain of quality processes is achieved with all partners.  Trade contractor certification has resulted in significant business results including up to 25% reduction in cycle time per home and significant reductions in callbacks.

The National Builder Certification Program is the home builder’s version.  This covers production, warranty and sales operations and includes Quality and Safety Management.  Both of these programs involve annual third party audits by the NAHBRC.  The aim is to focus on the critical issues of continual improvement, corrective and preventive actions. Sections exist for scheduling of work or project management, job ready conditions to ensure that each trade is working effective with each other to ensure an effective hand over from one to the other, and the requirement that Builders integrate their programs with those of their trade contractors.  This also requires the Builder to actively support the establishment of quality initiatives procedures with all its trade contractors.

To find out more follow these links to the NAHBRCs certification websites.



Denis Leonard has a degree in construction engineering an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in quality management. Denis is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality, a Certified Quality Manager, Auditor, and Six Sigma Black Belt. He has been an Examiner for the Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners a Judge on the International Team Excellence Competition and a Lead Judge on the National Housing Quality Award. A former Professor of Quality at the University of Wisconsin, he has experience as a quality manager in the home building industry as well as construction engineer, site manager, and in training, auditing, and consulting with expertise in strategic and operational quality improvement initiatives. His work has achieved national quality, environmental, and safety management awards for clients. 

Denis is co-author of The Executive Guide to Understanding and Implementing the Baldrige Criteria: Improve Revenue and Create Organizational Excellence.