QUALITY & METRICS
Perfect-Order Mentality More Important
Than the Actual Measure
There has been significant debate spanning 20 years about the validity of the “perfect order”
metric, which measures the quality of product delivery. The debate mostly focuses on how the
metric is calculated and if it is a valid measurement of supply chain performance. But, a more
relevant part of the discussion is the mentality that drives organizations toward perfect per-
—Bruce Tompkins, principal, Tompkins Associates and executive director of Tompkins Supply Chain Consortium
he perfect order, whether for a customer or sup-
plier, is commonly considered to be a measure
differentiator between organizations that prosper and those
that do not, especially in the long term. T
• Percentage of on-time delivery;
Practically speaking, a requirement of perfection is folly. The
• Percentage of complete orders;
laws of diminishing returns suggest that, at some point in the jour-
• Percentage of the right quality; and
ney, being less than perfect makes sense. But experience has taught
• Percentage of correct documentation.
that striving for perfect orders will leave organizations better pre-So to be perfect, an order must be delivered on time, pared to meet the expectations of customers and consumers.
complete, with the right product quality, and have all
required documentation—a very difficult task given the
internal and external processes that must function perfectly In 2010, expect to see the debate on perfect order continue. But
for this to occur.
also expect to hear about more and more companies actively
While getting all of these events to occur simultaneously may pursuing perfect order as a performance metric and as a combe a difficult task, does that make it an impossible task?
pany culture. The visionary companies will look beyond the
Organizations that think that “perfect” is possible will push order-delivery process and look for perfection in other supply
to continuously improve, while others will stop to look for chain processes, as well.