Is Delivery now more important than Quality?

Quality First?

There was a time not that long ago where the way to the think about product and services (beyond commodity items) was Quality then Delivery then Cost.

It’s often raised in the project management context where you can have:

  • Quality and Lower Cost but it will take longer to Deliver
  • Quality and Delivery but it will Cost extra

…. and so on. You can see the picture here.

It was always drilled into me from the companies that I worked for that the quality was always Number 1. And very close behind, ensure that customers get it when they want it. For that, they won’t mind paying a bit more.

Convenience and Immediacy

What I see today is that delivery (i.e. how quickly you get it) has become more important than quality. Socially, we are living in an on-demand world with immediate gratification.

You may not be actively thinking it but, subconsciously, anything that takes a bit longer than imagined somehow doesn’t quite meet your expectations. This is very subjective but look out for it in your thinking, I’m sure the feeling will surface sooner or later.

It’s also driven by our rapid and constantly changing world. The pace of change is accelerating and now time has the greatest correlation to changing expectations and needs.

What a customer wants today may not be what they need in 6 months time. For example, many people upgrade their mobile phones every 1-2 years. What they wanted from their device last year is not on their list of wants this year as innovations in the market have evolved.

Even project management methodologies have changed to adapt to this. Now we’re encouraged to create Minimum Viable Products to iterate and test rather than spend too long defining the best quality product which, by then, no longer meets customers changing needs. Here its all about Delivery first and check for Quality second (and repeatedly) as you enhance your product.

I’d encourage you to read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries to learn more about this concept.

I accept that this doesn’t apply to all people in all circumstances, but I believe it’s broadly true. For some “cost is king” and therefore compromises elsewhere will always be acceptable. In a world where the supply chain will constantly improve to push commodity items easily into customers hands, perhaps delivery and quality is your differentiator.

You don’t need to be making products for this to apply to you. This thinking can be applied to your day to day activities.

Think about how you can deliver promptly and check for quality then. Don’t expect to get it right first time, so act with urgency and iterate towards a great outcome.

Good Luck.


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