e-Newsletter – 12/05/2002
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Poor Quality Products Imply A Poor Quality Company
Tom Dennis – President, Effective Engineering [email@example.com]
A Company’s reputation is based on many things – the
experience of the senior management team, the company’s financial
performance, its stock price, product innovation, delivery on commitments,
etc. The quality of its products
stands high on the list as one of the major determinants of a company’s
reputation. Positive reputations
are hard to achieve, and take a lot of time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears
to build. However, positive
reputations are easy to destroy. For
example, miss your financial commitments and your company and its stock price
gets hammered. Deliver products
late to market and you damage not only your company’s reputation, but also
the reputations of some of your customers who depend on your timely delivery
on your commitments (see eN-112102 – Late Delivery Kills
Poor product quality can destroy the reputation of your company’s
products, but in most cases has an even more serious impact – when people
see a company put out poor quality products, they strongly associate those
poor quality products as coming from a poor quality company.
You are what you make!
A reputation as a poor quality company is well deserved if company releases
poor quality products. What kind
of company would knowingly release poor quality products?
What kind of people must a company employ who are content to release
poor quality products? What kinds of poor development processes must exist for poor
quality products to get released? What
kinds of quality assurance and quality control processes allow poor quality
products to make it out the door? If
a company can’t control the quality of its products, which are what enable
the company to generate revenues, then why should people have any faith in
other aspects of the company – its financial reporting, its marketing plans,
its sales projections, etc.
Poor quality products not only have a direct impact on the reputation of the
company, as discussed above, but also have a direct impact on the financials
of the company as well. They directly impact both the company’s top line (revenues)
and its bottom line (profits). A
look at the graph at www.effectiveeng.com/the_problem.htm
(also shown here) shows graphically the business impact of poor product
quality. The blue portions of
this graph show the triple impact that occurs when a company develops and
delivers poor quality products.
(1) During development,
poor quality causes late delivery, in added test time, in added development
time to correct problems found, and in additional people being added to try to
overcome the problems encountered. This adds significantly to development costs, reducing the bottom
(2) Once poor quality products
are released to the field, word of that poor quality quickly spreads, and
results in reduced sales, from some who will return product they are not
satisfied with, and from others who will never buy the poor quality product in
the first place. This reduces
ongoing revenues, often significantly, thus impacting both the top and bottom
(3) With poor quality product in the field, customer support issues
will quickly grow, and this will in turn require additional engineering
support people to be assigned. These
added support and engineering costs will add to development costs, often for
prolonged periods of time, further reducing the bottom line.
What needs to be done to be able to deliver superior quality products?
Quality must be designed in – it cannot be tested in.
Critical to Quality by Design is:
► Excellent up-front requirements, so
you know you are building what your customers really want.
► Highly motivated people working together effectively as a team with the
right people assigned to the right tasks.
► Effective development methodologies and processes that ensure good quality
practices are being properly followed, without being overburdening.
► Superior test / quality assurance methodologies and processes that test
products from a wide variety of perspectives.
► Project management methodologies and processes that enable successful
project planning and tracking.
► Release engineering methodologies and processes so that the proper criteria
are set to ensure the products are truly ready to be released.
These and more elements of effective engineering will be addressed in more
detail in subsequent e-Newsletters.
The key thing to remember is that it is not just the reputation of your
products that is on the line. It is your individual reputation and the reputation of your
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