UK & Ireland Featured Project: FT Pipeline Systems - Integrated Management System (1254)

QEM Solutions used their understanding of the water industry to develop a management system that satisfied the requirements of ISO 9001:2008, ISO 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:2007. QEM Solutions continue to manage and improve the organisations processes both on a corporate and project specific level.

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Overseas Featured Project: Capita Symonds - Valve Inspections

QEM Solutions were contracted to carry 3rd party inspection and witnessing activities on a series of valves fabricated in Germany for a series of SGN contracts throughout Scotland.

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We are QEM Solutions We are QEM Solutions

We are problem solvers. We are organisers. From the project start-up to the very final evaluations and analysis, we can bring enthusiasm to each and every part of your project.

We are problem solvers. We are organisers. From the project start-up to the very final evaluations and analysis, we can bring enthusiasm to each and every part of your project.

News Spotlight How long is a piece of string? Competence in the workplace

‘Competence’ is a hazy concept. Many engineering firms now require that all contractors – on top of providing training and qualification records – evaluate the competency of all their staff. That’s a big ask, when competency seems like such a subjective asset. But, if done well, identifying required competencies for every role your people do can give employees a clear road-map of what’s expected of them, and an understanding of which of their talents are most valued.



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28 Oct 2016

What is knowledge? Knowledge management on short term projects

The Oxford dictionary defines knowledge as ‘facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education’. 

The key word in that definition is ‘experience’. You can’t gain knowledge through education alone. You have to muck in and get your hands dirty to find stuff out. You’ve got to ‘do’ before you ‘know’. 

And that’s the rub. That’s why Managing Directors fret about knowledge management on short term projects. Good people arrive, dump their belongings in a locker for a month and bring years of experience to the job. They have the knack for doing stuff well. They have a feel for what to do in a fix because they’ve fixed something like it before. They deliver the project, pick up their last payslip, and they’re off. Taking all of that knowledge with them. And, quite possibly, a small company’s only competitive edge. 



The thing about knowledge is that there are two types.

There’s the stuff that’s been acquired over time by the industry and written down in data, guidelines, qualifications, safety standards and operations manuals. That’s explicit knowledge – it’s proven, validated, and out there for everyone to study. Fine. But the other knowledge – the one that’s so difficult to manage – is tacit. It’s inside and unsaid. The knowledge gained from years of experience that sits quietly in people’s heads. And annoyingly, it’s almost impossible to get it out. 

So how to get at this knowledge when it’s locked up inside someone else’s grey matter?

And, moreover, when you’ve deadlines to meet? You can’t ask anyone to write down what they know – there simply isn’t time. On the contrary, it’s likely the first step is to get your people talking. A staff canteen and properly observed breaks might just become a vital place for information exchange. Heck, we all love a story over a mug of tea and biscuit. Audio diaries may also have a place if you’ve a handful of key workers willing to brain-dump into a smartphone while they scratch their heads over a problem. But perhaps the fastest and most effective way to gather knowledge and keep it, is de-briefing. Put simply, that’s getting your people into a room to talk about what just happened, whether it be good or bad. No finger-pointing, no back-slapping (unless things have gone brilliantly). Just thinking about what worked, what didn’t, and why. At all management levels of a project. Put together all these individual experiences, and you’re building stable project knowledge that won’t all disappear when your best guys leave. 

Whatever you choose to do, keep talking – to everyone on site. Take a tea break or two. And listen. A packet of chocolate biscuits may be the soundest investment you’ll ever make.