QFD known as Quality Function Deployment is a system used for designing products and service processes that involves key members of the organization. In simple words QFD can be can be defined as:
• Quality – Meeting Customer Requirements
• Function – What Must Be Done to meet customer requirements and focusing the attention
• Deployment – How and who will do it and when
The main purpose of the QFD is to try to ensure that the final design of a product or service actually meets the needs of its customer. Customers may not have been considered explicitly since the concept generation stage, and therefore it is appropriate to check that what is being produced for the design of a product or service will meet their needs. It is technique that was developed in Japan at Mitsubishi’s Kobe Shipyard and used extensively by Toyota and many organizations. The expected results by leveraging the QFD technique are mentioned below:
• Better understanding of customer needs
• Improved organisation on development projects
• Improved introduction to production
• Fewer design changes late in development
• Fewer manufacturing start-up problems
• Reputation for being serious about quality
• Increased business
• Documented product definition based on customer requirements
QFD is also known as the ‘house of quality’ because of its shape and the voice of the customer because of its purpose. The technique tries to capture what the customer needs and how it might be achieved. The matrix is a formal articulation of how the company sees the relationship between the requirements of the customers (the whats) and the design characteristics of the new product or service. The House of Quality Matrix translates customer requirements, based on internal expertise, marketing research and benchmarking data, into an appropriate number of targets to be met by a new product or service design. In reality, there are many ways in which the House of Quality is practiced within different companies and industries, which makes it a reliable system to be use.
The matrix contains various sections as explained below and shown in Figure 1:
· The Whats, The Voice of Customer or the customer requirements: It is the list of competitive factors which customers find significant. Their relative importance is scored in this case on a 10-point scale, with accurate scoring the highest. The collection and use of the customer requirements is the cornerstone of QFD. The initial steps in forming the House of Quality include clarifying and organizing the customers’ needs. It is imperative to translate the customer’s needs of each customer into something tangible and which can be translated to product or service specifications. Moroever, the customer requirements are organized in categories or groups and three primary reasons behind doing this are:
1. To simplify using the QFD charts at a later stage by creating categories of associated customer inputs
2. The process of organising the data allows the QFD team to reach a common understanding of customer wants
3. Finally, as per the customer research methods and the nature of the sampling may not highlight all the customer needs. Therefore, the process of organizing provides an opportunity to teams to surface focus areas and requirements which the customers has not explicitly expressed.
· The competitive scores indicate the relative performance relative performance of the product, in this case on a 1 to 5 scale. Also, indicated are the performance of two competitor’s products.
· The hows, or the design characteristics of the product, are the various dimensions of the design which will operationalize customer requirements within the product or service.
· The central matrix (sometimes called the ‘relationship matrix’) represents a view of the interrelationship between the whats and the hows. This is often based on value judgements made by the design engineers. The symbols indicate the strength of the strength of the relationship – for example the relationship between the ability to link remotely to the system and the intranet compatibility of the product is strong. All relationships are studied but where the cell of the matrix is blank, there is none found.
· The bottom box of the matrix is a technical assessment of the product. This contains the absolute importance of each design characteristics. For example, the design characteristics ‘interfaces’ has a relative importance of (9*5 + 1*9 =54). This is also translated into a ranked relative importance. In addition, the degree of technical difficulty to achieve high levels of performance in each design characteristics is indicated on a 1 to 5 scale.
· The triangular roof of the house captures any information the team has about the correlations (positive or negative) between the various design characteristics.
Although the details of QFD may vary between its different variants, the principle is generally common, namely to identify the customer requirements for a product or service – together with their relative importance – and to relate them to the design characteristics which translate those requirements into practice. In fact, this principle can be continued by making the hows from one stage to become the whats of the next as shown in Figure 2.
The House of Quality functions as a living document and a source of ready reference for related products or service and future upgrades. QFD serves as a vehicle for processes to strengthen horizontal and vertical communications in organizations. Through customer needs and competitive analysis, the House of Quality helps to identify the critical technical components that require change. Issues are addressed that may never have surfaced before. The net effect of all of this is that the items that drive the company’s actions are driven by the customer’s requirements. There is an increased focus on the customer and an increased awareness of their wants. Because of this focus, the process leads to improved customer understanding and the ultimate outcome – a satisfied customer.