Quality must be designed into the product, not inspected into it. Quality can be defined as meeting customer needs and providing superior value. This focus on satisfying the customer’s needs places an emphasis on techniques such as Quality Function Deployment (QFD) to help understand those needs and plan a product that does indeed provide superior value.
QFD is a structured approach to defining customer needs or requirements and translating them into specific plans to produce products to meet those needs. “Voice of the customer” is the term commonly used to describe stated and unstated customer needs or requirements. The voice of the customer is captured in a variety of ways: direct discussion or interviews, surveys, focus groups, customer specifications, observation, warranty data, field reports, etc. This understanding of customer needs is then summarized in a product planning matrix or “house of quality.” These matrices are used to translate higher level “whats” (or needs) into lower level “hows,” which are the product requirements or technical characteristics that satisfy those needs.
QFD was invented by Yoji Akao in Japan in 1966 and first implemented in Mitsubishi’s Kobe shipyard in 1972. Later it was adopted and developed by other Japanese companies, notably Toyota and its suppliers. In the United States, the first serious exponents of QFD were the ‘big three’ automotive manufacturers in the 1980s and a few leading companies in other sectors such as electronics. However, the uptake of QFD in the Western world appears to have been fairly slow. There is also some reluctance among users of QFD to publish and share information (much more so than with other quality-related methodologies). This may be because the data captured and the decisions made using QFD usually relate to future product plans, and are therefore sensitive, proprietary, and valuable to competitors.
QSG can assist your organization by developing a QFD program aimed at satisfying the customer throughout the whole business process from product/service development to delivery. Our QFD approach is designed to help identify measurement systems and performance specifications that will meet customer requirements and improve your company’s strategic competitiveness.