Thursday, November 1, 2012

Quality: How Far is Too Far?

Producing a “Quality Product” is an idea that can be debated for hours.  A company can spend endless amounts of money to ensure a quality product; knowing what extents to go to ensure that quality is the million dollar question though.  To me, quality is something that needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis; one cannot assume every product requires the same level of quality.

For example, imagine you are a company producing medical beds for hospitals.  Parts of the bed, like the legs, need particular care in terms of quality.  They must have a tight tolerance in terms of length, so a patient won’t roll out because of a slant.  They also need to be strong enough to hold even the heaviest of patients.  A failure in that regard could be fatal.  Extensive testing quality checking is vital to ensure that these parts are of the highest quality possible.

Now consider a logger chopping firewood.  What exactly is a quality piece of wood? From experience, I can say that for the most part if it burns, it is a quality piece of firewood.  The money and effort spent on quality should be exponentially less than that of the hospital beds.  Is it necessary to have an employee measure the length and circumference of every piece of firewood down to the thousandth of an inch? Absolutely not.

What I’m getting at is, the customer/intended use of the product is what really gauges the level of quality system needed by the producer.  People commonly talk of the negatives of under-monitoring the quality of a product.  What isn’t often mentioned is that over-spending on quality is expensive and can sink a company.  Finding that happy medium is what’s important if a successful, long-lasting business is desired.

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