Define: Zero Defects

UK Accounting Glossary

Definition: Zero Defects

Quick Summary of Zero Defects

Zero defects is a Total Quality Management (TQM) philosophy that reinforces the notion that mistakes are not acceptable and aims to change workers’ attitudes to quality by stressing the importance of error-free performance.

What is the dictionary definition of Zero Defects?

Dictionary Definition

Zero Defects is a component of total quality management (TQM) that aims to change workers’ attitudes to quality by stressing the importance of error-free performance.

In practice however, error-free performance is neither economic or practically feasible.

Experience suggests that, whilst short-term improvements may be achieved using this approach, performance usually returns to it’s previous levels within the medium to long term.


Full Definition of Zero Defects

Zero Defects is a management tool aimed at the reduction of defects through prevention. It is directed at motivating people to prevent mistakes by developing a constant, conscious desire to do their job right the first time.


Examples of Zero Defects in a sentence

Quality Assurance strives for zero defects in the manufacture of goods.
Over a long enough timescale zero defects is not an achievable goal.
The desire for zero defects can be particularly unsettling in a customer service setting due to it’s wildly unpredictable nature.
A technical manager’s role calls for the ability to test large software projects and “execute them on time, within budget and ideally with zero defects”

Zero Defects FAQ's

Is Zero Defects possible?

Literally zero defects corresponds to a defect level of infinity sigma, which most practitioners will admit is not possible. “There is no such thing as a benign defect.” “If we can get rid of the defects, then we can get rid of the testing.”

How did Crosby define Zero Defects?

Zero Defects, a term coined by Mr. Philip Crosby in his book “Absolutes of Quality Management” has emerged as a popular and highly-regarded concept in quality management – so much so that Six Sigma is adopting it as one of it’s major theories.

It means ensuring the highest quality standards in projects.

Unfortunately, the concept has also faced a fair degree of criticism, with some arguing that a state of zero defects simply cannot exist.

“zero defects” in quality management isn’t usually understood to mean literal perfection, but rather refers to a state where waste is eliminated and defects are reduced.

It may be considered as an attempt to try and to ensure the highest quality standards in projects.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Zero Defects. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. November 17, 2019
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Zero Defects. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: November 17, 2019).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Zero Defects. Retrieved November 17, 2019, from website:

Definition Sources

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This glossary post was last updated: 4th May 2019.