Understand what your customers consider to be good quality before investing in unnecessary costs.

Even the founder of lean principles, Toyota, can falter on quality; thus, anyone can lose their edge – yet it is cornerstone to business success. People and companies have more choices than ever before. If you wish to remain in the race, quality must be more than an assumption; it must become a strategic focus.

  1. View quality from your customer’s perspective – What matters is what your customer expects when agreeing to purchase the product or service. Be vigilant in understanding your customers’ expectations.  Remember to value what they would be willing to pay for.
  2. Over delivery of quality is a problem – Sounds strange but there’s no doubt that over delivering on quality can be a significant problem. Consider the cost that goes into over delivering – eventually your price will have to account for the over delivery of quality in order to make a profit.
  3. Don’t inspect; instead, build quality into the process – Although inspection will avoid customer issues, it will result in significant cost. It isn’t the best plan as inspectors are needed and issues are found after-the-fact!  Why not reverse this losing proposition and build quality into the process upfront?
  4. Track key metrics – What is measured becomes the priority. Is parts per million meaningful? How about customer feedback? Start small and begin tracking what is important.
  5. Quality is increasing in importance to today’s marketplace – Since cash remains king even in the recovery, people and businesses are more particular about how they spend their money and have increased expectations. Quality must be consistently high to just “be in the game” – high quality is no longer a differentiator; it is a requirement.