How To Make Efficiency And Quality Go Together For Your Organization
I am a partner and owner of a few consulting businesses. Through one of my businesses, my partners and I get the pleasure of working with and teaching college students. I always enjoy the energy and fresh ideas that youth bring to the work force. Their passion and excitement help me stay excited about going to work every day.
One topic that I often spend time with our interns and junior employees explaining is quality and efficiency. Often times our most junior staff have never really been asked to produce high quality work in a time-constrained environment. My advice to our folks is always to find an established efficient process for a given task. Follow that process every time. The process will help reduce unwanted work and the risk of introducing errors. After several iterations, you will become faster at the process, producing high quality work in less time. That is when your value to your company and your client increases. It sounds simple. It is simple. However, it needs to be taught more often than not. Look at Figure 1.
Generally speaking most people think that an increase in quality will cost us extra time and/or money. As Lean Six Sigma doctrine teaches us, this is not necessarily the case. We also need to think about the cost of bad quality as well. If you don’t have the resources to do the job right, do you have the resources to do it over? Can you afford to lose a customer due to poor quality?
I offer there is another way to look at the issue. That being the ability to introduce processes and tools that increase quality while reducing costs. While there is no panacea that will address every issue, taking time to evaluate an entire process from start to finish before implementation will save time in overall production and reduce or eliminate rework. Figure 2 is included for those more academic in the audience. If you instill standard and repeatable processes with your organization, you will lower your prevention costs. That should also reduce your failure costs because you’re preventing failures before they occur. The resultant is lower total quality costs. As the saying goes, “Take the time to measure twice, so you only have to cut once”. The “Frank Axiom” to that saying goes: “If you measure twice, the same way, every time, you only cut once efficiently”. Your objective should always be to increase quality while driving down production time and costs. That increases your value to your organization and is a differentiator to your customers.
One of the biggest reasons I get called in as a consultant is to re-engineer business processes that have gotten out of control in terms of time and quality. If those organizations had just spent some time upfront before they implemented their business processes, they would have never had to call me in to assist them. The same goes for continuous process improvement. If you constantly evaluate your business processes, you will continue to drive more efficiency and therefore keep your costs and quality under control.
So my advice from 52 year-old Frank to a 22 year-old Frank is to focus on quality through standard, repeatable processes and efficiency. Always strive to reduce or eliminate waste through continuous review of your processes. Doing that will greatly enhance your relationships with your customers and improve your chances of success in the future.