In the world of business and industry, every organization has customers. Some have only internal customers, some just external customers, and some have both. When you are working to determine what you need to accomplish to satisfy or even delight your customers, then the tool of choice is quality function deployment or QFD.
Quality professionals refer to QFD by many names, including matrix product planning, decision matrices, and customer-driven engineering. Whatever you call it, QFD is a focused methodology for carefully listening to the voice of the customer and then effectively responding to those needs and expectations.
First developed in Japan in the late 1960s as a form of cause-and-effect analysis, QFD was brought to the United States in the early 1980s. It gained its early popularity as a result of numerous successes in the automotive industry.
In QFD, quality is a measure of customer satisfaction with a product or a service. QFD is a structured method that uses the seven management and planning tools to identify and prioritize customers’ expectations quickly and effectively.
Beginning with the initial matrix, commonly termed the house of quality, depicted in Figure 1, the QFD methodology focuses on the most important product or service attributes or qualities. These are composed of customer wows, wants, and musts. (See the Kano model of customer perception versus customer reality.)
Once you have prioritized the attributes and qualities, QFD deploys them to the appropriate organizational function for action, as shown in Figure 2. Thus, QFD is the deployment of customer-driven qualities to the responsible functions of an organization.
Many QFD practitioners claim that using QFD has enabled them to reduce their product and service development cycle times by as much as 75 percent with equally impressive improvements in measured customer satisfaction.
Figure 1 — House of quality template and benefits
Figure 2 — Waterfall relationship of QFD matrices
Excerpted from Jack B. ReVelle’s Quality Essentials: A Reference Guide from A to Z, ASQ Quality Press, 2004, pages 152–155.