QFD - A Systematic Approach to Product Definition


Thompson, Dianne M.M.; Fallah, M. Hosein   (1989, ASQC)   AT&T Bell Laboratories, Holmdel, NJ

Annual Quality Congress, Toronto, Ontario, Canada    Vol. 43    No. 0
QICID: 3600    May 1989    pp. 428-432
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Article Abstract

At AT&T, we are always working to improve our development process to reduce the cost of rework and improve product quality and customer satisfaction. We are also emphasizing the need to better understand customers' needs up front to define products and services that meet customers' expectations.

One approach that we are finding useful is Quality Function Deployment (QFD). QFD is a systematic approach for identifying and prioritizing customer needs, translating those needs into product/service specifications and tracking those customer needs throughout the product/service realization process. QFD, as an approach to product definition, has become increasingly popular with many US companies. In AT&T, we began exploring the potential of QFD in 1986. Since then, we have studied the concept and applied the first phases of the QFD approach to several projects. The results have been very positive. This paper provides a brief background of QFD in Japan and the US, and focuses on our experience with QFD at AT&T.

We find that QFD helps

  • focus attention on the customers' perspective -- the members of the QFD team charged with defining a product or service focus on the customers' problems, needs, and expectations
  • foster communication among organizations -- in AT&T, a number of internal organizations need to work together to bring a new product ideas to realization. We have found QFD to be extremely effective for these interactions. Each organization can bring its expertise and be heard through the QFD team.
  • structure available information to facilitate its analysis -- in many cases, there is too much information to process mentally. The seven management tools provide efficient mechanisms for organizing data and extracting useful information.
  • provide necessary documentation of what was considered, what was decided and why -- the "house of quality" matrix captures the information in a clear, concise manner and shows what was considered, allowing others to follow the team's thinking.
Other benefits that we have seen include increased customer satisfaction, decreased concept to design cycle time and a reduction in changes to the product or service definition after the requirements are completed.


Software quality

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