A Million-Dollar Mistake

A few weeks ago, I was facilitating an online demonstration of our systems for the systems analyst/manager of a giant oil and gas company. The manager was intrigued with our browser-based, iPad-compatible Quality Control System, and told me his company needed to do something immediately to STOP the errors—particularly the late deliveries of petroleum products and other system-busting events.

Now, I’m used to dealing with companies from five to several hundred employees, but this was a multibillion-dollar company with offices spread across several countries! However, one thing I’ve learned from more than two decades of working with business owners and managers is that a great many businesses operate without trackable Quality Control Systems—or at best, with poor ones.

I was surprised when the systems manager of this company told me it had incurred several million-dollar errors and fines due to simple mistakes. It’s inconceivable that a company of that size would lack substantial quality controls over some of the very processes that caused the errors.

Given that knowledge of his company, when the manager and I got around to discussing the cost of implementing our system, I can tell you I was a bit embarrassed about our low price. Fact is, if we saved his company just ONE of those costly errors, that would pay for it using our system for about 166 years. It was the manager’s turn to be surprised, as I guess the organization was accustomed to paying huge bucks for lesser fixes.

QUESTION: Why don’t smaller companies implement Quality Control Systems that would help them track, measure and find the root causes of their errors and eliminate them PERMANENTLY?

It CAN be done! We’ve done it…for our companies and many others!

It’s often true that businesses with the most recurring errors are the very ones that lack good systems—and BALK at investing in them.

They’ll tell you…

  • They cost too much.
  • We can’t get anyone to use them.
  • They take too long to use.
  • We tried them, and they just don’t work.
  • Some of my best employees said they would quit if I implemented control systems.
  • We have too many family members working here; they will not cooperate.
  • I don’t see the value in checklist systems.
  • Well, we don’t make THAT many errors, as I have good people!

Hard as I try to give simple reasons for why and how good business systems work, it seems some folks will only make a change when the pain and stress of their costly errors reach critical mass. But, those are actually the “folks” I love to work with, because—when they finally get it, and they have an epiphany of how easy it is to install Quality Control Systems and other control systems—they are never the same. They would likely tell you now, that NOT having such systems is self-defeating to quality production and good customer service—a “million-dollar mistake” for any size business.

Philip Beyer, founder/president of Beyer Printing and Ebiz Products LLC in Nashville, TN, is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant, author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business," and an InterTech Award recipient for the design and development of System100™ business process management software. Philip speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses.
Related Content
  • Ralph Folino

    Failure to implement systems is failure of management. To move from a small entrepreneurial business to a well managed business you must have systems in place. Our company implemented our "new" system over 8 years ago, looking back it had its challenges, but the rewards are of far more value.

    As for the non-believers, they are no longer part of our corporation.