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The Waste of Defects

Business Process Management

The first type of waste in our series is defect waste. Defects have occurred any time an end product is inadequate or falls short of customer expectation. This type of waste is a danger to your business because it directly affects the customer experience in addition to being a drain on time, money and resources. Common causes of defects include:

  • Mechanical malfunction
  • Poor quality control processes
  • Misunderstandings of customer expectations
  • Failure to communicate and work to standards
  • Inadequate processes and lack of clear documentation
  • Poor planning and design
  • Uncontrolled or overproduced inventory
  • Poor training processes

What Defect Waste Looks Like

The waste of defects is often one of the easiest types of waste to identify since many defects are obvious. Unfortunately, poor monitoring processes sometimes lead businesses to discover defects too late, which means they only discover the problem when customers begin to complain. Common defects include:

  • Broken or non-working products Incorrect data entry
  • Misprinted or illegible documents
  • Incorrect product sent to customers
  • Surgical errors

Many businesses make the mistake of believing that defects are a normal and acceptable part of doing business. This is a dangerous belief because customers and employees are quick to lose faith in a company that commonly repeats the same errors. In order for a business to grow, it is essential that defects are minimized as much as possible, and that control measures are implemented to handle future defect issues. Defect waste generally results in:

  • Increased customer refunds and return rates
  • Decreased customer satisfaction
  • Increased costs due to correction or replacement
  • Poor customer retention
  • High rework rates

The Solution

It is nearly impossible to completely eliminate defects, but they can be greatly reduced by implementing stringent work standards, creating and following quality control processes, and ensuring that all team members are properly trained. The following suggestions can be adjusted to suit any working environment:

  • Create and use checklists to manage and monitor mechanical repairs, work processes and quality control processes.
  • Create processes for clearly communicating customer expectations and needs.
  • Document work standards, processes and workflows in a way that is easy to understand and follow.
  • Implement training and continuing education programs at every level of the business.

Take an in-depth look at your production processes and how waste may sneak into any industry with the next post in the series The Waste of Over-Production.

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