A defect exists when a product, material, process, document or service fails to meet a specification and / or above all, a customer’s requirement. In that, something is lacking or isn’t right. In all but the most minor instance*, form, fit or function is impaired impacting perceived utility and value. Defect is an assessment of quality.

There are three levels of severity customarily addressed for defects:

  • Critical defects are immediately noticeable by all, render products or services unusable and may present proximate harm to others. These are often subject to urgent supplier reaction and restitution.
  • Major defects are perceived by users, represent a serious excursion from specifications and impact performance. These are likely to require a replacement or exchange to compel a remedy.
  • Minor* defects might not be noticed by the user right off, don’t significantly impact form, fit or function, and are liable to be tolerated by buyers. These are opportunities for supplier improvement.

Such flaws or shortcomings are one of the seven types of waste. They can be quite a burdensome and costly matter to rectify (think Hubble Space Telescope, Takata Airbag Recall or the Exxon Valdez oil spill).

To examine approaches of managing defects out of the picture, refer herein to Zero Defects.

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