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Archive for the 'Advice' Category

Do We Need a Matrix for QFD?

January 21st, 2011 by Dr. Thomas M. Fehlmann

QFD Matrix

During the last years a tendency has been observed to position QFD more towards understanding customer’s needs than doing complex matrix mathemagics with insecure data and producing fuzzy evaluation profiles. It is more important saving (customer’s) time than understanding relationships between process controls and process response.

Customer’s needs can be analyzed by means of Thomas Saaty’s Analytic Hierarchical Process (AHP), prioritized with ratio scales, and assessed for consistency. This seems much quicker and more reliable than assessing the Voice of the Engineers, and then trying to understand how it transforms into something that meets Voice of the Customer’s requirements.

However, this opinion stands in contrast to the Six Sigma approach, used to define, measure, analyze, improve, and control (DMAIC) relationships between process controls and process responses. Such relationship mapping is called Transfer Function. For instance, a transfer function describes how to transform controls used by engineers into response expected by customers. If there are more than one response characteristics, and more than one control impacts the response, the QFD matrix is the natural choice for representing the transfer function.

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Category: House of Quality, Advice, DFSS, Lean Six Sigma, Quality Function Deployment, QFD | 9 Comments »

The Psychology of Notation

January 10th, 2009 by Joseph P. Merts

Symbolic and Numeric RatingsThere has been much debate over which representation is the best to use when filling in the ratings for a House of Quality: symbolic notation or numeric notation. The premise behind the debate is that there is somehow a greater inherent value in using circles, filled circles, and triangles or in using 1’s, 3’s, and 9’s. In actuality, neither format is universally superior to the other. On the contrary, they both serve different purposes and are uniquely suited for working with different groups. Thus, just as it is important to tailor a speech or written argument to the needs of the intended audience, it is important to choose the notation for a QFD that is best suited for its target audience.

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Category: House of Quality, Advice, Quality Function Deployment, QFD | 1 Comment »

Blending the Voices of Disparate Customers

August 27th, 2008 by Joseph P. Merts

Choir singingSeveral months ago I published an article entitled “Who’s Your Daddy” which discussed why it is imperative to listen to the disparate (and sometimes contradictory) voices of different customers. Since that time, I have received several inquiries about the mechanics of exactly how one blends the voices of conflicting business, consumer, and regulatory groups into a single “VOC” for a Quality Function Deployment. The intent of this article is to answer those inquiries by giving an overview of the two primary processes for blending the requirements from these disparate groups, namely: “Percentage Translation” and “House of Quality Folding”.

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Category: House of Quality, Advice, Voice of the Customer, Remodeling the HOQ™, Quality Function Deployment, QFD | 1 Comment »

Saving Time by Voting Blind

May 10th, 2008 by Joseph P. Merts

businessman with his hands over his eyesThe Quality Function Deployment (QFD) process is probably the most effective methodology available for capturing and responding to the “voice of the customer”. Few people dispute the effectiveness of QFD, but many people express concerns about its efficiency. Although the tools of QFD are extremely valuable for prioritizing product and/or service development efforts, they can be arguably cumbersome. In fact, many management teams that implement a QFD process end up abandoning it after a few months due to the time requirements of following such a rigorous methodology. Although the time saved by reducing unnecessary course corrections far outweighs the additional overhead of implementing Quality Function Deployment, there is definitely a significant upfront time investiture associated with the process. However, there are several time saving procedures that QFD teams can utilize to significantly decrease the arduousness associated with the methodology. One particularly beneficial time saver is that of “voting blind”.

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Category: House of Quality, Advice, Voice of the Customer, Quality Function Deployment, QFD | 3 Comments »

Planning for Failure: HOQ vs. FMEA

April 29th, 2008 by Peter Wolfe

Chain about to breakYou’ve probably heard the old adage, “If you fail to plan, then you’re planning to fail.” That sentiment is certainly echoed in the basic principles of the Quality Function Deployment (QFD) methodology. There is another old adage concerning failure that, although not quite as recognized, is just as true: “Fail to mitigate failure and you will succeed in minimizing success.” (Okay, so it isn’t really an old adage. I just made it up. However, you have to admit, it does sound rather catchy, and it does convey the underlying precept fairly well.) This maxim (regardless of how it is worded) is similarly echoed by the tenets of Quality Function Deployment.

So then, the question arises–what is the best tool for prioritizing steps to mitigate potential failures: Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) or the House of Quality (HOQ) tool? Coming from a Quality Function Deployment enthusiast, my answer may surprise you…

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Category: History of QFD, House of Quality, Advice, Voice of the Customer, DFSS, Quality Function Deployment, QFD, CTQ, CTC, FMEA | 18 Comments »

When to Say When

October 9th, 2007 by Joseph P. Merts

A comment was recently submitted to QFD Online regarding the limits that should be imposed on the number of requirements for any given House of Quality. The basic premise of the comment was that the number of requirements should be limited in order to keep the HOQ “maintainable”. While the core principle was accurate (i.e. that it requires care and attention when crafting a QFD in order to make sure that it can be maintained long-term), the idea that there is a one-size-fits-all limit that can be used is misguided. Luckily, however, there are processes and procedures that can be applied on a case-by-case basis to ensure maintainable requirement lists.

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Category: House of Quality, Advice, Agile, Quality Function Deployment, QFD | 2 Comments »

Heading in the Right Direction

September 30th, 2007 by Peter Wolfe

Have you ever watched a team of engineers modifying their secondary requirements (a.k.a. the “quality characteristics hierarchy” or “hows”) on a House of Quality spreadsheet? They remind me of a group of hillbillies staring at a piece of modern art—their heads are usually cocked to the side with grimaced looks on their faces. (It’s quite entertaining actually.) Considering that in a spreadsheet environment secondary requirements are generally edited far more than primary requirements (the primary requirements list or “demanded quality hierarchy” is usually pulled automatically from other Houses of Quality in the QFD), have you ever wondered why it is that the secondary requirements are the ones that are flipped on their sides and run across the top of the HOQ?

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Category: House of Quality, Advice, Remodeling the HOQ™, Quality Function Deployment, QFD | 2 Comments »

Who’s Your Daddy?

July 19th, 2007 by Joseph P. Merts

Most people believe that the first step in creating a successful QFD is to identify the list of customer requirements. Although documenting customer requirements is key to ensuring that the “voice of the customer” is heard, there is actually an even more crucial first step. The very first task to complete when creating a Quality Function Deployment is to identify exactly who your “daddy” (i.e. customer) really is, and that task isn’t as easy as you might think.

Numerous QFDs fail (i.e. cease to be used or to be useful) because too many features are added to the relevant product or service in a manner that bypasses the QFD altogether. These assignments are made in a manner that circumvents the system in order to address “urgent” requirements. Unfortunately, as soon as a window is opened for non-customers to push “urgent” matters to the front of the queue, they stop using methodical processes for prioritization altogether. Soon, every pet project or feature gets identified as “urgent” or “imperative”, and the QFD falls to the wayside with the voice of the customer close behind.

This may seem like an easy problem to fix—all that needs to be done is to make sure that these “urgent” items get added to the QFD like every other feature or requirement. If needed, these items can be evaluated and rated before other requirements, but they won’t be worked on until they merit attention. The problem is that many of these urgent items would never warrant attention, according to the QFD, because the wrong customer was identified in the first place.

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Category: Advice, Voice of the Customer, Quality Function Deployment, QFD | 4 Comments »