Zero Defects and Its Relevance in Modern Industries

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Zero Defects is a theory propounded by Philip Crosby through which he celebrated a new business practice that reduces the numbers of erroneous attempts by doing things right in the first go. The ultimate aim is to make the best use of time and efficiency of the resources and continue with the process of better productivity. The major purpose of this business process is to eliminate all possible factors that may lead to error in the production process.

What is Zero Defects?

What actually is ‘zero defects’? How do you define it?

Without getting to the technical definition of zero defects, this business practice can be elaborated as the commitment to complete a task within the time period decided while the agreement was done and all the required resources or should be kept ready so that the goal is attained. However, the final target is to doing or executing the business practices right at the first time. Consequently, the necessary planning, plan of action and other components should be kept ready to achieve this goal successfully.

Zero Defects Quality-Control

The main purposes of zero defects are:

  • Directly influencing profit expansion by reducing errors
  • Making product development more cost effective and manageable by removing erroneous operations, which lessens workload from the testing team
  • Proper channelization of product developers’ input, reducing magnitude of their efforts while manufacturing

Combining these three purposes, the ultimate objective that an organization wishes to attain through zero defects is profit maximization along with the best quality productivity.

The Rational behind Implementing Zero Defects:

Zero Defects is considered as one of the simplest and most efficient ideas that probably is the simplest, most effective, and quality management concept ever into practice. Once this practice is adopted by a leader, he needs to find the means to remove all possibilities of erroneous practices. He should also take no tolerance attitude towards erroneous results.

At the same time, it is important to remember that Zero Defects doesn’t necessarily mean perfection, provided you haven’t selected perfection as a parameter for the standard of production. Precisely, the concept of Zero Defects implies that quality of the work reach the extent of required standard of quality, as it was determined before commencement of the project. Zero defect or the ultimate product is free of flaws – that is the ultimate quality this particular business practice emphasizes. The question, however, is – Will the errors occur? There is no way that a stoppage is put on errors during the production procedure but with this method they won’t be tolerated and the leader or higher management of an organization should take the necessary measures to stop such errors from becoming recurrent. The methodology adopted by leaders to prevent defects will inspire employees to match the standard of performance that their leader expects.

The secret ingredient of Zero Defects, thus, relies a lot over invoking the natural realization from employees regarding the standard that their leaders have determined. At the same time, it is important that they are adequately informed about details of the standard. Owing to this, they will understand the standard and will try to perform as per the requirement.

There is a strong argument on behalf of the possibility about error free production. Instances are not rare where organizations have committed themselves to error free production for some time. So, the argument that error free production is impossible can be countered. Ensuring defect free work throughout needs certain amendments in the overall organizational infrastructure and mentality of workers as well. However, there is actually no hope for those who don’t know how to make production error free. The problem in such cases is that they would be compelled to spend too much of time, solving the problems that may bar production without any defect. Indulgence in the process of problem solving is actually a trap. Once you are in, it is very difficult to get out from there.

Working without any defect is not as difficult as it is generally assumed. Surprisingly, it is a far more difficult and time consuming to explain a problem to another person. Expect wasting time and energy in this explanation and assumptions, if the resources are correctly invested in the Zero Defects practice; it is actually possible to achieve what is apparently impossible.

So here is why we should implement Zero Defects:

  • Implementing Zero Defects policy delivers a stronger and more prominent message to employees in terms of understanding their job responsibilities and standard of operation that needs to be followed, keeping in mind the goal of convenience for customers.
  • Apart from lessening the numbers of errors in the production, Zero Defects also helps with channeling product developers’ efforts more productively, lessening the numbers of erroneous efforts made.
  • Zero Defects ensures regular improvement and updating of a business process, scrutinizes the defects and helps in keeping it free of flaws to the best possible manner.
  • Zero Defects makes it possible to reduce successive repetitive attempts by reducing the numbers of existing defects or by reducing the possibility of such defects being injected further to the system.
  • Hidden or untraced defects in a system may prove to be quite costly for any organization. Implementation of Zero Defects not only removes these problems but also play important role in making the output process cost effective and ensures excellence in the product development process by cutting costs and shortening the development cycle.
  • One of the most supports provided to client confidence and satisfaction.
  • Guaranteed improvement in the overall Return on Investment (ROI).
  • The brand value of an organization improves significant as its employees and products become nearly flawless.

It’s not perfection that helps your business grow and increase profit but adoption of the practice changes your perspective and that’s the key to the top. Zero Defects compels your organization to do the following:

  • Prompt acknowledgement of extra expenditure, leading to high price tag along with quality issues
  • Finding the possible flaws in the system that could have been given way to injecting defects
  • Taking proactive measures in addressing the areas of defects and figuring out the correct path that will stop these problems from recurring

Check out the following graph to get an overview of the high cost and quality management issues:

The Convenience about Implementing Zero Defects:

The best advantage of Zero Defects is that it is easy to perceive and implement. The leader is the one who should determine the performance standard and quality parameter of Zero Defects. However, success of this practice is possible only when employees adhere to the performance standard wholeheartedly. Unlike other quality management models, such as, TQM, Six Sigma etc, this model applies to all class of job in an organizational structure and not just the product. Whether employees hail from engineering department, product development, quality management, accounts or any other variant of job responsibility, quality of their production will come under purview of this model. More leader will opt for this business practice greater will be the chance of completing projects with minimum quality issues along with freedom from reworking.

The Best Time to Implement Zero Defects:

  • Before the project starts
  • At the initial phase of an organization’s conception
  • At any time of product development life cycle

Planning Before Implementing Zero Defects:

If you are expecting a foolproof formula or a carefully structured approach for implementing Zero Defects in your organization and expecting an astounding results, there is no such magic trick that c can help you out. You have to personalize your own plan of action, based on a few guidelines. Alongside, it is quite important to figure out the right time when the organization is ready to embrace this model.

While the best part about Zero Defects is that is it easy to adopt and possible for applying at any stage on product or organizational development, on the other hand, the greatest challenge lies with creating the right condition for implementing and executing this model successfully. Unless the required facilities are created, it will not be possible for managers or evaluators to attain the desired benefits of Zero Defects.

The process needs to be designed as per customers’ expectation from an organization or the products he users. It is important to remember that you are trying to produce the Zero Defects goods so that your customers receive the best service. Accordingly, you should implement the necessary steps that will not only manage quality but also convince your employees about long term benefit of applying this method for overall organizational prosperity.

The requisites of implementing Zero Defects are:

  • Management of an organization, at the first place, should commit to the principles of zero defects. Without the requisite level of support from the management, it is not possible for employees to deliver results as per the required quality parameters.
  • Zero Defects change as people will change their attitude towards work and it needs to be implemented as per the natural way of change management, not forcefully.
  • It is important to decorate and design the entire system in a customer-oriented manner but one needs to be careful about not overdoing it in the effort.
  • The goal should be doing things correct on the first go.
  • To make the production error free, it is important to be proactive rather than taking the necessary measures once the mistake is done.
  • Teach your employees about poka – yoke (POH-kay YOH-kay), which means designing the production system in a manner that makes it almost impossible for defects to occur. In case, there are a few flaws, they can be cited and deleted easily.
  • Constant monitoring of progress is an important part of the Zero Defects implementation process. Based on the results of monitoring, the management should provide to-the-point feedback to employees. Alongside, they should train employees to address any error at the earliest and solve it quickly.
  • It is important to measure the effort in terms of quality and not entirely in terms of quantitative output.
  • The leader should be motivating the entire team for successfully materializing the goal of zero defects within the production process.
  • It is important to cultivate team’s expertise only to ensure that the goal of zero defects is achieved constantly, irrespective of the change in circumstances.

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Monika Ardianto

Quality Management Consultant and Auditor at Monika Nonce Ardianto
Monika Ardianto is a Certified Quality/Operational Management Consultant with over 20 years of experience in improving quality management systems of large businesses. She is an award winning author of "Winning the Audit".

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