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Is Quality Free?

 
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The other day over dinner, I made the arguement that Quality is Free. Whatever I said, the rest my family seemed to believe I was being a naive idiot. They all seemed to be under the impression that quality is an expense that can and must be cut like any other expenses. The idea of demending that employees have the right mindset or training to do quality work was absurd to them (at least for a run-of-the-mill business -- some people can afford to pay for greater quality control by charging more for services or goods). After all, employees are hard to find and training costs money, right?
I believe that the cost (in time and money) of quality is so low that the increased customer loyalty and satisfaction more than compansates.
Does anyone care to comment?
 
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I think there's an inflection point when looking at quality. Certainly going from no quality to little quality takes extra effort (e.g. think back to kindergarder, it took more effort to stay within th elines while coloring). On the other hand, we also see cases of long term investments; consider medical insurance, it's well established that upfront costs for preventative medicine have long term payoffs.
There are certainly documented cases, and I think Crosby cites some in his book, where a company increased its production quality, and saved money on recalls, support, items pulled off the line, etc.
Heck, even in software itself, we can get a feel for this idea in terms of design. Consider a 2 year project. You show up with requirements on day 1. You spend 2 days designing the architecture (we'll consider a non-XP methodology) and start coding after that. Changes are the design won't be as good, and will have higher change and maintanence costs, then if you have spent a month on design. A better quality design produces lower cost later.
--Mark
 
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Mark Herschberg writes:

Consider a 2 year project. You show up with requirements on day 1. You spend 2 days designing the architecture (we'll consider a non-XP methodology) and start coding after that


You mean, you are supposed to spend more than 2 days on design and architecture?
On some projects, it's seems like we spend 10 minutes in the design process and 10 months in the coding process.
More like 10 minutes desinging, 10 days coding, and 10 months debugging.
John Coxey
(jpcoxey@aol.com)
 
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The quality arguement seems to lose to the CEO's quest for good numbers this fiscal quarter. I suppose he's just responding to a herd of bulls.
Japan's culture with it's sacrafice today and enjoy tomorrow motto looks to me to be in a protracted recession. The Japanese have taken quality very seriously. Does any one have a sense of morale on the island?
 
Mark Herschberg
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Originally posted by Rufus BugleWeed:
Japan's culture with it's sacrafice today and enjoy tomorrow motto looks to me to be in a protracted recession. The Japanese have taken quality very seriously. Does any one have a sense of morale on the island?


Just because they engage in high quality practices does not make them immune from other economic woes. Japan has had banking scandals (like our S&L problem in the late 80s), an overinflated economy, strong ties to the US market, heavy dependence on oil, etc.
--Mark
 
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