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How much does 5 minutes cost?

cost of poor quality

What does it cost the people downstream from one another in terms of time, money, productivity, morale, and opportunity costs when an upstream person cannot take five minutes extra to complete a task, activity or deliverable to defined quality standard? In other words, what is the cost of poor quality?

My experience in most of the integration companies I’ve consulted with is a lack of understanding of the effects on the company of good quality and poor quality.

The impact is staggering in its magnitude when:

  • A sales person conducts a shoddy site survey and leaves the Client out of the process, and doesn’t go over the scope of work in terms of assumptions and the change order process (5 minutes), he/she leave the PM and Technicians at risk as to the true scope of the project and an inability to forward a change order for “disputed” items (Cost – several hours – $400.00 – along with frustration).
  • The Lead Technician doesn’t red-line the drawings (5 minutes) so the as-builts don’t reflect reality and the Service Technician has to spend extra time correlating the documented drawings with reality and then ultimately solving the problem under the watchful eye of an unhappy Client (Cost – 3 hours – $300.00 – along with embarrassment and loss of reputation).
  • Sales cuts/pastes old equipment information into the quotation without checking it (5 minutes) causing Procurement to re-look up all of the parts numbers and prices, and then asking Engineering to verify the correct parts – some of which are now unavailable – and so the drawings must be modified (Cost – 2 hours of Procurement’s time spent checking for errors which delayed another project’s equipment order until the next day, 2 hours of Engineering time – $300.00 – which also delayed the estimation of another project and irritated another Client – along with mistrust and loss of confidence between Sales, Procurement and Engineering).

I’ve found when the true costs of poor quality are measured, it helps to show the true value of downstream people – and the ramifications that the mis-use of their time has on other projects and the company as a whole.  So when people say that they’re good – maybe they need to ask the people downstream of them – and when they say they’re too busy do “do it right” – maybe they need to understand the exorbitant “costs” they just pushed onto someone else.

Have you experienced these or similar in your company? What can you and others do differently today?  Need guidance??  Let us know, we’d love to help.


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