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Quality Function Deployment for Competitive Advantage

Jul 13, 2008
The understanding of the voice of the customer - internal as well as external - is key to implementing business strategies for a Six Sigma company. VOC data is useful to ensure that the data collated is real and factual and relevant to the goals of the business.

A useful and structured tool that helps to understand the requirements of the customers and translate them into business deliverables is the Quality Function Deployment (QFD) tool.

The QFD tool focuses on the positive qualities that lead to customer delight. It finds objects that may delight the customer and improves upon them. QFD is useful when the business is aware of the customer's requirements, but is unable to have internal measurements comparative to the requirements.

It is useful when a large investment is needed for a new product. When there is no agreement on delivering customer requirements and there is stiff competition in the market segment, QFD can be of great assistance.

How Does QFD Work?

The basic idea of QFD is to create a link between the attributes that the customers voice and design them based on parameters from which the specific contributing actions and responsibilities of functions can be identified. The structure is organized and is often termed as the House of Quality. It is useful when there is involvement of cross-functional teams.

The structure of House of Quality is built in four steps:

First house of quality - Customer's House

The first house is the customer's house. In this house, the goal is to transform the voice of the customer into simple, clear language. Companies have to understand the metrics on which the customer decides whether their requirements are met, and then develop its internal metrics that determine customer requirements.

The key elements of the first house are customers' needs, measurable characteristics of the needs, relationship in between the needs and the characters measured in high, medium or low, comparison with competitors, competitive benchmarking and preliminary targets meeting the customer's requirements.

Once these elements are identified, a relationship to the measurable customer's needs and their strengths are determined. Finally, the analysis to establish the improvements is done.

Second House Of Quality - Company's House

The second house is the company's house. The goal of this house is to decide on the actions that are to be taken to satisfy customer needs. This house is generally constructed in the measure and analyze phase.

Third House of Quality - Process House

This house is the house of the process and constructed in the analyze phase. An analysis is done to find which processes should be implemented to meet the customer's requirements.

A new process may even be developed if the need is felt.

Fourth House of Quality - Process Control House

This is the house of process control and constructed in the control phase. Its aim is to find the control variables used to satisfy customer needs.

It may not be necessary to construct all four houses of QFD. It should be used to meet customer requirements from the development stage to the delivery stage and it should agree on the measurement systems and performance specifications to improve the company's strategic competitiveness.

By including the steps to improve on both spoken and unspoken requirements, it helps gain a competitive advantage.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for six sigma professionals including, lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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