March 31st, 2008 by John Livingston
I have been asked on several occasions what industries Quality Function Deployment (QFD) is useful for. My tongue-in-cheek response to such inquiries is that “QFD is only useful for those industries that have decisions to make and customers to please”. In all seriousness, QFD is about communication and decision making, and its tools can truly be used in any industry. The House of Quality matrix, in particular, is an almost universal tool that can be used for prioritizing anything from a family budget to the complex engineering tasks of an automobile manufacturer.
Speak to Me
The House of Quality matrix is one of the best tools available for clarifying the “voice of the customer”. It is important to note that the customer in question may be a product or service consumer, a corporate executive, or even another department within the same company. In fact, the “customer” in question may even be one’s self–for the HOQ tool is an excellent way to evaluate a complex decision and prioritize one’s own requirements.
Many companies have discovered the importance of asking what their customers’ requirements are. Unfortunately, most companies stop their dialog with their customers at simple requirements gathering. They fail to ask the clarifying questions necessary to truly understand the wants and needs of their customer. The House of Quality tool, on the other hand, helps teams to gather information such as the following:
- Are any of the customer’s requirements more important/critical than their other requirements?
- How much more/less important is any given requirement when compared to the others?
- What are the measurable goals for fulfilling the requested requirements?
- Do any of the goals conflict with each other?
- Does satisfying any particular goal help to satisfy another?
- How difficult will it be to accomplish any given goal?
The House of Quality tool can assist with competitive analysis as well. In short, the HOQ matrix not only helps to capture the voice of the customer, it helps to map an effective and efficient path to satisfying that voice.
What Choice Do I Have?
I mentioned earlier that QFD is only valuable for those groups that have decisions to make and customers to please. I was only half joking when I mentioned those criteria. In order for the House of Quality to be a valuable tool for any team or individual, the people utilizing the tool must be at liberty to influence the decision-making process. Furthermore, teams and/or companies that care little about satisfying the wants and needs of their customers will find little value in the HOQ matrix or the Quality Function Deployment methodology. However, environments that foster micro-management and ignore their customers are generally the product of individual company cultures rather than the attributes of entire industries or disciplines.
The QFD process and the House of Quality tool can be applied in most any industry to increase quality and better meet the needs of its customers. The HOQ matrix can assist in prioritizing the initiatives of anything ranging from computer processor design to hotel management. It facilitates decision making for engineers and sales people, alike. It helps to document the voice of the customer just as easily for healthcare services as for fast food services. In truth, the House of Quality is universally applicable, and probably the only “building” big enough to accommodate all the industries in the world.
This entry was posted on Monday, March 31st, 2008 at 7:00 pm and is filed under House of Quality, Voice of the Customer, Quality Function Deployment, QFD. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can also leave a response.