Deutsch: Ausfall / Español: Fallo / Português: Falha / Français: Défaillance / Italiano: Fallimento

Failure in the quality management context refers to the non-fulfillment of intended usage requirements or expectations. This could involve a product, service, or process that does not meet established standards or specifications and may result in customer dissatisfaction, safety hazards, or product recalls.


In quality management, the term "failure" is broadly used to describe any instance where a product or process does not achieve the desired level of quality. This can include defects in products, errors in service delivery, or inefficiencies in processes that lead to adverse outcomes such as product malfunctions, health risks, or regulatory non-compliance.

Application Areas

Failure in quality management is critical to understand in various operational contexts:

  • Manufacturing and Production: Where failures might involve defective products that fail to perform as expected due to quality shortcomings.
  • Software Development: Failures can occur as bugs or glitches that prevent software from functioning correctly.
  • Service Industry: Service failures might include any situation where customer service does not meet the expected standards of excellence, potentially leading to customer dissatisfaction.
  • Healthcare: In this critical field, failure to meet quality standards can result in serious health implications, making quality management vitally important.

Well-Known Examples

  • Toyota’s Recall in 2009-2011: A significant example of product failure, where vehicles were recalled due to a sticky pedal issue leading to unintended acceleration.
  • The Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster: A tragic example of process and product failure where flaws in the O-ring seals used in the shuttle’s rocket boosters caused a catastrophic failure, leading to the loss of the spacecraft and all crew members.

Treatment and Risks

Addressing failures in quality management involves several key strategies:

  • Root Cause Analysis (RCA): A method used to identify the underlying reasons for failure, which helps in preventing future occurrences.
  • Corrective Actions: Developing plans to correct the identified problem and monitoring the effectiveness of these corrections.
  • Preventive Measures: Implementing changes to processes or products to prevent the occurrence of similar failures in the future.
  • Continuous Monitoring and Auditing: Regularly reviewing systems and processes to detect signs of potential failures early.

Similar Terms

  • Defect: Often used interchangeably with failure, though it specifically refers to non-conformance to the requirements within quality management.
  • Risk Management: Identifying and managing the risks that could lead to failure, aiming to prevent failure before it occurs.



In the quality management context, failure is a key concept that denotes any instance where a product, service, or process does not meet the required standards. Effective management of failures involves identifying causes, rectifying issues, and implementing preventive measures to enhance quality and safety. Understanding and addressing these failures are crucial for maintaining high standards of quality, ensuring customer satisfaction, and complying with regulatory requirements.

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