Total Quality Management

September 12, 2008

Cost of Quality

Definition of cost of Quality

It’s a term that’s widely used – and widely misunderstood.

The “cost of quality” isn’t the price of creating a quality product or service. It’s the cost of NOT creating a quality product or service.

Every time work is redone, the cost of quality increases. Obvious examples include:

  • The reworking of a manufactured item.
  • The retesting of an assembly
  • The rebuilding of a tool
  • The correction of a bank statement

The reworking of a service, such as the reprocessing of a loan operation or the replacement of a food order in a restaurant

Historical Views of Quality Gurus about cost of quality

Historically, business managers have assumed that increased quality is accompanied by increased cost; higher quality meant higher cost.

This concept was questioned by quality pioneers like  Juran and Feigenbaum. Juran examined economics of quality and concluded the benefits outweighed the costs. Feigenbaum introduced “total quality control” and developed the principles that quality is everyone’s job, thus expending the notion of quality cost beyond the manufacturing function. In 1979 Crosby introduced the new popular concept that “quality is free”.

Three different views held by the management professionals about Cost of Quality

Today view of quality cost among practitioners seems fall into three categories:

Higher quality means higher cost: Quality attributes such as performance and features cost more in terms of labor, material, design, and other costly resources. The additional benefits from improved quality do not compensate for the additional expenses.

The cost of improving quality is less than the resultant savings: Deming promoted this view, which is still widely accepted in Japan. The savings result from less rework, scrap, and other direct  expenses related to defects. This paved the way of continuous process improvement among Japanese firms.

Quality costs are those incurred in excess of those that would have been incurred if product were built or service performed exactly right the first time: 

This view is held by adherents of the TQM philosophy. Costs include not only those that are direct, but also those resulting from lost customers, lost market share, and many hidden costs and foregone opportunities not identified by modern cost accounting systems.

Categorization of Quality Costs

The cost of quality is generally classified into four categories:

1. External Failure Cost
2. Internal Failure Cost
3. Inspection (appraisal) Cost
4. Prevention Cost

1. External Failure Cost: Cost associated with defects found after the customer receives the product or service. Example: Processing customer complaints, customer returns, warranty claims, product recalls.

2. Internal Failure Cost: Cost associated with defects found before the customer receives the product or service. Example: Scrap, rework, re-inspection, re-testing, material review, material downgrades

3. Inspection (appraisal) Cost: Cost incurred to determine the degree of conformance to quality requirements (measuring, evaluating or auditing).    Example: Inspection, testing, process or service audits, calibration of measuring and test equipment.

4. Prevention Cost: Cost incurred to prevent (keep failure and appraisal cost to a minimum) poor quality.  Example: New product review, quality planning, supplier surveys, process reviews, quality improvement teams, education and training.

Source: Total Quality Management by Joel E. Ross



  1. […] Original ferhansyed […]

    Pingback by Cost of Quality — September 12, 2008 @ 5:25 pm


    Comment by P.KARTHIKEYAN — January 12, 2015 @ 2:11 pm

  3. I agree with this statement. The cost of quality should also includes cost of rebuilding, cost of loosing existing customers as well.

    Comment by Ram Chandra Ojha — January 6, 2018 @ 9:27 am

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