Quality Function Deployment (QFD) is a total quality management tool that systematically develops the needs and expectations of customers. Quality Function Deployment was developed by the Mitsubishi Corporation for defining shipbuilding requirements in the late 1960s.
|Definition||Quality Function Deployment (QFD) is a systematic and structured approach to product or service development that focuses on translating customer needs and requirements into specific product or service characteristics. It originated in Japan in the 1960s and is widely used in various industries to ensure that customer expectations are met or exceeded. QFD aims to enhance the quality and customer satisfaction of a product or service by aligning all aspects of its design, production, and delivery with the voice of the customer. It involves cross-functional teams and a set of tools and matrices to prioritize customer requirements, translate them into engineering characteristics, and track their implementation throughout the development process. QFD is a valuable tool for product and service designers and quality assurance professionals to ensure that their offerings meet customer expectations.|
|Key Concepts||– Customer Voice: QFD starts by capturing and understanding the voice of the customer (VOC), which includes their needs, expectations, and desires. – House of Quality: The House of Quality is a central QFD matrix that links customer requirements (Whats) with engineering characteristics (Hows). – Cross-Functional Teams: QFD relies on cross-functional teams that collaborate to integrate customer requirements into design and production processes. – Matrix-Based Approach: It uses matrices and tables to organize and prioritize information. – Continuous Improvement: QFD supports the concept of continuous improvement, where products or services are refined over time to better meet customer needs.|
|Characteristics||– Structured Process: QFD follows a structured step-by-step process, ensuring consistency and thoroughness. – Customer-Centric: It places the customer at the center of product or service development. – Data-Driven: QFD relies on data and information gathered from customer feedback and market research. – Cross-Functional Collaboration: Teams from different departments work together to implement QFD effectively. – Visual Tools: Matrices and graphs are used to visualize and prioritize information.|
|Implications||– Customer Satisfaction: QFD directly impacts customer satisfaction by aligning products or services with customer needs. – Efficiency: It streamlines the development process, reducing wasted resources and effort on non-essential features. – Competitive Advantage: Companies that use QFD effectively can gain a competitive advantage by consistently delivering what customers want. – Innovation: QFD fosters innovation by encouraging teams to find creative solutions to meet customer requirements. – Risk Mitigation: It helps identify potential issues early in the development process, reducing the risk of costly redesigns or recalls.|
|Advantages||– Improved Product Quality: QFD leads to higher product or service quality as it focuses on meeting customer needs. – Customer-Centric Approach: It reinforces a customer-centric approach to product and service development. – Efficiency: QFD streamlines processes, reducing time and resource wastage. – Enhanced Communication: It promotes better communication and collaboration among cross-functional teams. – Data-Driven Decisions: QFD relies on data, ensuring informed decision-making.|
|Drawbacks||– Resource-Intensive: QFD can be resource-intensive in terms of time, personnel, and data collection. – Complexity: The process can be complex, especially for smaller organizations. – Overemphasis on Customer Input: Overemphasizing customer input can lead to a lack of innovation or strategic vision. – Resistance to Change: Implementing QFD may face resistance from employees accustomed to traditional development methods. – Limited to Developed Markets: It may be less applicable in markets with low levels of customer feedback or where customer needs are not well-defined.|
|Applications||– Product Development: QFD is commonly used in designing and developing new products or improving existing ones. – Service Development: It is also applied to the development and improvement of services, such as healthcare or financial services. – Process Improvement: QFD can be used to optimize manufacturing or service delivery processes. – Marketing Strategy: Some companies use QFD to align marketing strategies with customer preferences. – Quality Control: It plays a role in quality control and ensuring consistent product quality.|
|Use Cases||– Automotive Industry: Car manufacturers use QFD to incorporate customer preferences into vehicle design, leading to features that appeal to their target markets. – Consumer Electronics: Companies producing smartphones, laptops, and other electronics use QFD to balance design with functionality and user experience. – Healthcare Services: Hospitals and healthcare providers apply QFD to improve patient care and the overall healthcare experience. – Financial Services: Banks and financial institutions use QFD to enhance the quality of customer service and financial products. – Manufacturing: Manufacturing companies employ QFD to improve production processes and product quality, reducing defects and waste.|
Understanding Quality Function Deployment
Given that ship construction is an enormously expensive process, Mitsubishi realized the importance of building a product to suit customer needs.
These companies were also the first to introduce a customer-centric focus to the car manufacturing industry – moving away from a fixation with the bottom line.
In so doing, domestic vehicle sales increased on the back of greater innovation and customer satisfaction.
Implementing Quality Function Deployment
QFD is a four-phase process describing activities throughout the product development cycle.
Each phase is accompanied by a matrix called the House of Quality. This matrix translates customer needs to the design requirements for each system, sub-system, and component.
With this in mind, here is a list of the four phases:
QFD begins with the business implementing a Voice of the Customer (VoC) methodology to describe customer needs in the context of product specifications.
VoC may include the gathering of information through focus groups, surveys, interviews, or other means. Sometimes, product definition will also incorporate competitor products.
Product development (design)
Here, the product team will take priority product specifications and translate them into assembly characteristics.
They will also define the functional requirements for each.
Based on product and component specifications, manufacturing and assembly processes are designed.
The process flow is developed and important process characteristics are identified.
Process quality control
To ensure that characteristics are met, QFD advocates the development of controls, inspections, and tests.
Using the House of Quality matrix
Prioritising the most important customer needs is an integral part of QFD. This is achieved via the aforementioned House of Quality matrix.
To use the matrix, follow these steps:
Add customer needs (based on research) on the left hand side of the matrix
For a company developing a new smartphone, needs may encompass size, battery life, camera quality, and weight.
Assign customer ratings to each feature conducted through quantitative research using a scale of 1 to 5.
Then, calculate the percentage importance for each feature by dividing the rating by the total of all ratings.
Add design requirements
Along the top of the House of Quality, add a horizontal row of design requirements for each feature.
Examples for a smartphone may include operating system, battery size, and cost of production.
Determine the strength of the relationship between design requirements and customer needs
Strength is rated as either Strong (9), Medium (3), or Weak (1).
For example, a customer preference for long battery life has a strong relationship to weight but a weak relationship to camera resolution.
For each feature, calculate the importance rating by multiplying the percentage importance by the relationship score.
To determine which features the product team should work on first, divide the importance rating of one feature by the sum of all importance ratings.
Add competitor research
This means determining how competitors currently rank for each of the prioritized needs determined in the previous steps.
Using this information, product teams can quickly see features competitors have overlooked or that are being under served.
Note that the competitive assessment does not impact on importance ratings. Rather, they are intended to serve as an additional layer of analysis.
- Quality Function Deployment is a systematic quality management tool that focuses on designing features and products according to customer needs.
- Quality Function Deployment is based on four phases that guide design during the product development cycle: product definition, product development, process development, and process quality control.
- Feature prioritization is integral to Quality Function Deployment. Using quantitative research and competitor analysis, product teams can use the House of Quality matrix to accurately prioritize product features.
- Definition and Purpose: Quality Function Deployment (QFD) is a total quality management tool that systematically identifies and addresses the needs and expectations of customers during product development.
- Origins and Adoption: QFD was initially developed by the Mitsubishi Corporation in the late 1960s for defining shipbuilding requirements. It was later adopted by companies like General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler to streamline design cycles and improve customer-centric focus in the car manufacturing industry.
- Four Phases of QFD: QFD involves four distinct phases that guide product development:
- Product Definition: Gathering customer needs through methodologies like Voice of the Customer (VoC) and competitor analysis.
- Product Development (Design): Translating customer needs into product specifications and functional requirements.
- Process Development: Designing manufacturing and assembly processes based on product and component specifications.
- Process Quality Control: Developing controls, inspections, and tests to ensure process and product characteristics are met.
- House of Quality Matrix: The House of Quality is a matrix used within QFD to prioritize and align customer needs with design requirements. It involves several steps:
- Add customer needs on the left side of the matrix and assign customer ratings (1 to 5) to each.
- Calculate the percentage importance for each need.
- Add design requirements along the top of the matrix.
- Determine the strength of relationships between design requirements and customer needs (Strong, Medium, Weak).
- Calculate importance ratings for each feature.
- Use competitor research to assess where competitors rank in relation to prioritized needs.
- Key Takeaways:
- QFD aims to design products and features based on customer needs.
- The process involves four phases: product definition, product development, process development, and process quality control.
- The House of Quality matrix is a crucial tool in QFD, helping prioritize features and align them with customer expectations.
Connected Agile & Lean Frameworks
- Business Models
- Business Strategy
- Business Development
- Distribution Channels
- Marketing Strategy
- Platform Business Models
- Network Effects
Main Case Studies: