The Law of Diminishing Returns
So, you’re considering implementing a sustainable quality-control system for your production processes, but something is eating at you. A frequent objection I hear is: “It takes too long to do a checklist, so I would expect a diminishing return on the time I’ve invested!”
In other words, you’re thinking that the time and money you save by NOT using a Quality-Control Checklist is greater than the cost of errors incurred. OK, let’s think about that!
Many have concluded that, “Errors are just the cost of doing business in our industry.”
I would ask those who raise the cost objection: “Have you ever measured and benchmarked the process of completing a checklist vs. the number and the cost of errors incurred?
If I were asked the same question, my answer would be YES! We HAVE measured the process of completing a checklist against the number and cost of errors incurred—for more than 15 years and for every key process—and we would NEVER go back to the so-called ”normal way of doing business.“
Why is that?
Over the years, our reports have PROVEN that using quality-control systems is NOT a diminishing return on investment; rather, the time and money saved is astounding, and some other benefits have been priceless!
Something that is overlooked by skeptics of quality-control systems is that they have only considered the cost of a job having to be REWORKED. They fail to include other nonconforming errors that happen all day, every day in most businesses.
Data input errors or lack of job specs—Meaning, one department has to call other departments looking for information to complete a job. That’s wasted time, at best; and at worst, the job is spoiled due to lack of information. You get the same old lame excuses: “Nobody told me,” and/or “It wasn’t written on the Job Ticket.”
Other costs skeptics of quality-control systems should consider before concluding they are diminishing returns include:
- Mistakes are demoralizing not only to owners, but all employees.
- Job errors fail to instill confidence in customers and are detrimental to the growth of a business.
- In this economy, errors could mean the very survival of your company.
- Meeting time taken in addressing errors adds up in dollars.
- Peace of mind is forfeited .
There are many more system-busting events that occur daily in business. Most of them are simply swept under the rug, and the company continues to use the same un-systematic approach to fix a problem— fallible human memory (aka “business as usual”).
So, how long DOES it take to complete an average quality-control checklist?
A potential client asked my son Paul, who at that time was pressroom manager, “How long does it take your press operators to complete a Quality-Control Checklist for the average printing job?”
“About 5 to 10 minutes,” Paul told the prospect, who was surprised by the answer. He went on to explain that a checklist is setup in the same order you would normally check a job to catch any potential errors; therefore, the more you get acquainted with the checklist, the more proficient you become. Paul added, “After a while, it’s kind of drilled into your head!”
I would concur with Paul’s answer, and I would add that the only way to drill quality control into the head of everyone on your team is by doing it systematically!
Diminishing returns? Our company has yet to see those, utilizing sustainable quality-control systems.
Did I mention? Great systems work!
Philip Beyer, founder/president of Ebiz Products LLC and founder of Beyer Printing Inc. in Nashville Tenn., is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant. Author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business" and recipient of an InterTech Technology Award for the design and development of System100 business process management software. Beyer speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses. Contact him at (615) 425-2652.