The Concept of Zero Defects in Quality Management

The Concept of Zero Defects in Quality Management


Last updated July 31, 2017


Zero Defects – a term coined by Mr. Philip Crosby in his book “Absolutes of Quality Management” has emerged as a trending concept in quality management; Six Sigma adopting it as one of the major theories.  The concept has also faced a lot of criticism. Many say that there cannot be a state of zero defects while others have been trying to prove them wrong. Zero defects in quality management don’t mean so in its literary term but it refers to a state where waste is eliminated and defects are reduced. It means ensuring quality standards and reducing defects to the level of zero in projects.

Zero Defects is not possible; why?

As mentioned above, zero defects cannot be taken in literary terms because in reality, zero defects are not possible. Suppose you are developing a product and want to ensure zero defects in terms of quality. The product might be very good today but tomorrow it will lack feature that the newest development will have. Therefore, you cannot state anything as absolute ‘zero defects’. Zero defects concept is a concept of quest for perfection in order to improve quality. Though perfection might not be achievable but at least the quest will lead towards improvement in quality.

Zero Defects – The Theory and Implementation

Zero defects theory ensures that there is no waste existing in a project. Waste here refers to all unproductive process, tools, employee etc. There is no help in including host of process, tools and employees if the production is not as such. So, anything that is unproductive and do not add value to a project should be eliminated from the project. This is the process of elimination of waste. By doing this, you reduce waste and thus cut down the cost involved in the waste. Besides eliminating waste, there should be a process of improvement. Any scope of improvement that is possible in a project should be experimented. This ensures the movement towards perfection. Zero defects theory also closely connects with “right first time” phrase. This means that every project should be perfect at the very first time itself. Here, again perfect refers to zero defects. Zero defects theory is based on four elements for implementation in real projects.

  1. Quality is a state of assurance to requirements. Therefore, zero defects in project means fulfilling requirement at that point of time.
  2. Right time first. Quality should be taken care of at the very first go rather than solving problems at a later stage.
  3. Quality here is measured in financial terms. One needs to judge waste, production and revenue in terms of money.
  4. Performance should be judged as per zero defects theory, i.e. near to perfection. Just being good is not good enough.

Zero Defects – Few Pros and Cons

Zero defects ensure that all waste existing in a project is eliminated in the very first go itself that leads to cost reduction. Thus, Zero defects leads to waste reduction along with cost cutting. All these process improves services and therefore, there is improvement in quality leading to happy customers.  However, there are certain disadvantages of this theory as well. As there is a quest for perfection and zero defects, more people and process might be involved to find out the defects which will lead to extra cost. Also over strictness might hamper the work culture and production in projects. To overcome the cons, along with following zero defects theory, one needs to ensure continual service improvement as well.

These are some insights on the zero defects theory and its implementation.  To know more about Six Sigma and Six Sigma certification and training, avail Simplilearn’s Certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Training.

Check out our course on Introduction to Certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Training

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About the Author

Chandana is working as a Senior Content Writer in and handles variety of creative writing jobs. She has done M.A. in English Literature from Gauhati University. A PRINCE2 Foundation certified, she has a unique and refreshing style of writing which can engross the readers to devour each sentence of her write-ups.


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