In times of recession mistakes in a process or a product are going to add cost to your bottom line profits. The aim of the game is to get as much imperfection out of your business as possible. This will enable you to be more competitive, more productive and more profitable. Customer satisfaction on your successful implementation of “Zero Defects” mentality could be enormous and cannot be under estimated. A lot of organisations happily carry on business trying to paper over the cracks of their faults; this is not acceptable in today’s highly competitive, global business environment.
How to achieve a “Zero Defect” ethos
The ultimate objective for your business is to take out all defects from your business. This should be part of your goal for the quality improvement processes you have implemented in your company. In order to achieve this, the first vital piece of the jigsaw is for senior management to have this objective firmly in their sights. It must be ingrained in employees daily thinking and be part of their annual appraisal objectives.
If you have defects put a value on how much they are costing the company, with some analysis you can usually identify the monetary costs of these errors e.g. this error is costing the company £400 every time it occurs.
The management team must ask themselves “can we make any improvements to what we are doing” and how much will it save us to bring it down to as close as possible to a “Zero Defect” level. It maybe after the analysis that the cost to permanently repair the defect is so extortionate that it is not viable, but at least it is identified and where possible a cost effective solution may be found to at least get closer to correcting the fault.
If you are starting out down the “Zero Defect” route you may wish to implement a quality system first, such as ISO9000 which can help create the base line for process improvement.
Identify and Resolve
When you identify an area where these defects are taking place you must first have a method to formally record it. This can be as simple as an employee raising it with their manager, however, it should be formally recorded in order that it can be reviewed by management and put on a priority list to resolve.
Management must then have in place a review process in order to analyse the identified errors and (at a high level) see how it can be corrected, how much it would cost and even more importantly who has the capacity and capability to resolve it. You may find you do not have the correct skill sets in-house and therefore may choose to look at outside consultants to help you. If you do go outside of the organisation ensure that the overall cost benefit returns are far more than the cost of the consultancy. The final part is that you must have a way of measuring the process or product in order to ensure ongoing conformity.
A lot of organisations employ Six Sigma methodology in order to improve their processes to achieve “Zero Defects”. If you can ensure one of your employees are trained in Six Sigma methodology it would be a substantial benefit to your business. The pay back for any such training could be excellent.
A “Zero Defect” mentality from senior management, which is correctly implemented, can save an organisation a huge amount of money whilst significantly increasing customer satisfaction. There is a standard path to follow in order to identify defects , but there could be many ways to achieve the “zero defect” in your organisation as problems can be resolved a number of ways. It is up to management to find the best way forward that give the best return on investment.