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The Power of Holding Firm to Your Standards

Recently my team and I were exploring a software innovation use case for a customer around product recalls. Our research uncovered numerous instances of product recalls, costing anywhere from $100,000 to over $50 million annually, not just for our customer but also within the industry as a whole. Identifying the root causes became imperative, leading us to question why these quality issues occurred and how we could prevent them.

Turns out, in the age of growth by mergers and acquisitions, there are a lot of challenges around data ingestion. The pressure to complete these complex events quickly often resulted in overlooked details, leading to data quality issues. Insufficient or inaccurate information about raw or semi-finished materials could ultimately lead to compromised product quality. Additionally, the aftermath of COVID-19 created shortages, forcing customers to seek alternative supply sources that may not undergo the same rigorous vetting process. Consequently, product recalls became an unfortunate consequence of these circumstances.

To address the issue at its core, we adopted a three-pronged approach. First, we focused on identifying and rectifying data inconsistencies and anomalies to ensure the accuracy and reliability of information. Secondly, we implemented additional quality checks and supervision during production, particularly when using components from suppliers with a history of quality issues. Lastly, we shifted the focus of quality assurance transactions from the back office to the shop floor, enabling real-time evaluation of the product.

But what if the product in question is not a thing you can buy off the rack but rather a qualified employee you are trying to hire? As a hiring manager, I often face the daunting task of swiftly recruiting highly skilled technology resources to assist our customers. Failure to fill requisitions promptly can lead to staffing shortages, potentially impacting operations for a considerable period. Finding experienced solution and/or development architects with the desired technical, functional, and industry knowledge often feels like searching for unicorns—rare and elusive. But not impossible! We already have a few, which proves they exist. All we need is to find more of them.

The hiring process presents its own set of challenges. Reviewing countless resumes with spelling mistakes, inconsistencies in experience, and a mismatch between expertise and job requirements can be disheartening. Moreover, encountering candidates who fail to show up for scheduled interviews, struggle to express themselves effectively, or lack a fundamental understanding of the subject matter can test one’s patience. In such moments, it is natural to wonder whether compromising on standards or lowering expectations is necessary.

The answer is a resounding NO. Just as compromising on product quality leads to recalls, compromising on hiring standards can result in adverse consequences. A “human recall” in the form of unsuitable hires can lead to substitution requests, loss of billable hours, missed sales opportunities, or even a complete erosion of trust from customers. Either way, the best solution not to experience any of these situations is to never lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.

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