Zero Defects

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Zero Defects - short version

A performance standard and method Philip B. Crosby developed; states that if people commit themselves to watching details and avoiding errors, they can move closer to the goal of zero defects. OR the quality concept of zero tolerance for defects.

Zero Defects - long version

Zero Defects is Step 7 of "Philip Crosby's 14 Step Quality Improvement Process". Although applicable to any type of enterprise, it has been primarily adopted within industry supply chains wherever large volumes of components are being purchased (common items such as nuts and bolts are good examples).

The principles of the methodology are four-fold:

1. Quality is conformance to requirements

Every product or service has a requirement: a description of what the customer needs. When a particular product meets that requirement, it has achieved quality, provided that the requirement accurately describes what the enterprise and the customer actually need. This technical sense should not be confused with more common usages that indicate weight or goodness or precious materials or some absolute idealized standard. In common parlance, an inexpensive disposable pen is a lower-quality item than a gold-plated fountain pen. In the technical sense of Zero Defects, the inexpensive disposable pen is a quality product if it meets requirements: it writes, does not skip nor clog under normal use, and lasts the time specified.

2. Defect prevention is preferable to quality inspection and correction

The second principle is based on the observation that it is nearly always less troublesome, more certain and less expensive to prevent defects than to discover and correct them.

3. Zero Defects is the quality standard

The third is based on the normative nature of requirements: if a requirement expresses what is genuinely needed, then any unit that does not meet requirements will not satisfy the need and is no good. If units that do not meet requirements actually do satisfy the need, then the requirement should be changed to reflect reality.

4. Quality is measured in monetary terms – the Price of Nonconformance (PONC)

The fourth principle is key to the methodology. Phil Crosby believes that every defect represents a cost, which is often hidden. These costs include inspection time, rework, wasted material and labor, lost revenue and the cost of customer dissatisfaction. When properly identified and accounted for, the magnitude of these costs can be made apparent, which has three advantages. First, it provides a cost-justification for steps to improve quality. The title of the book, "Quality is free," expresses the belief that improvements in quality will return savings more than equal to the costs. Second, it provides a way to measure progress, which is essential to maintaining management commitment and to rewarding employees. Third, by making the goal measurable, actions can be made concrete and decisions can be made on the basis of relative return.


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