Defects are the last of the seven sources of waste aka Muda in lean thinking. Defects in manufacturing are errors, damage, mistakes and other situations that do not confirm to standards and processes. Defects and defect elimination is the focus of a range of improvement methodologies and tools from traditional Total Quality Management (TQM) to Six Sigma.
Eliminate the defect and you eliminate the initial waste and rework required to repair the defect.
Defects occur throughout IT and therefore the opportunity to reduce waste and defects occur throughout your operations.
- Defects in service levels occur when people do not follow the process and procedure in providing customer and operational services. Its harsh to say that satisfying a customer by breaking the process is a sign of waste. Implement quality circles or other quality management techniques to manage the performance and improvements of these processes.
- Defects in software occur when the solution does not work as planned from a business, application or technical standard. A managed, tool enabled and personnel capability testing process is key to removing defects. Too many organizations either leave testing to the end of the project or the testing process to the personal preferences of the team and developers. Get a defined testing process and tools and drive them across the enterprise. The V-Model of testing, verification and validation, which was invented more than 30 years ago, is still among the most effective.
- Defects occur in hardware, systems software and other parts of the infrastructure. Failures in these areas, increased breakage, declining technical performance or capacity are all indicators of actual of emerging defects. Invest in upgrades and maintenance based on building resiliency into the infrastructure by raising the performance of each component. Remember redundancy to create resilience is waste! Your goal is simple, extend the mean time between failure (MTB) and minimize the impact of any failures.
- Defects occur in people when they tackle jobs for which they do not have the skills, understanding or authority to handle with a high probability of success. Take the time to put the right people in the right jobs and give them the opportunity to build the skills and experience for success. Beware the habitual hero in favor of capable and motivated people who will do good work.
Defects form the seventh and final source of waste in lean thinking, not because it’s the least important, but because defects are pervasive throughout an organization. Concentrating on this source of waste creates significant leverage for you and your enterprise as defects not only eliminate the error, but also the rework, lost of value, explanation and additional management oversight.
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