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Quality Function Deployment (QFD)

Dec 25, 2007
QFD provides the essential link between customer requirements and the available technology required for developing optimized products and services that best suit customer needs and expectations. By using QFD, businesses can now easily make use of existing technology - or even use a completely new technology - for designing and developing products or services without worrying about the negative fallout that is commonly associated with undertaking technology development and product development initiatives, both at the same time.

QFD has made it easier for businesses to make the benefits of newer technology available to their customers through improvements made in the existing product or service.

Importance Of QFD

QFD is important because it offers multiple benefits such as better conceptualization and implementation, increased production efficiency, and increased customer satisfaction. At the conceptualization stage, the main worry of product designers is whether the available technology can be successfully used or not for satisfying customer needs and expectations. It may look good on paper, but problems may start to surface when actual production starts if proper analysis is not done at the conceptualization stage regarding the compatibility of the available technology with the suggested manufacturing processes.

QFD helps because it effectively maps the complete production cycle, indicating exactly when and where to use the available technology to get the desired results. QFD also points out possible problems that may arise in the near future, which in turn helps managers to devise innovative solutions or backup plans well in advance. This not only helps businesses to satisfy customer needs and expectations through optimized products or services, but also helps them to reduce costs though increased production efficiency.

When To Use QFD

QFD is most effective when it is implemented in the early stages of the design phase. The early stages of the design phase is the time when new features are being incorporated based on customer requirements, making it necessary to implement QFD so as to resolve any critical issues before they transform into major problems and become a threat to the project itself. Implementing QFD after the design phase may not help much, because by then it will be very difficult and costly for the business to revert back to another product design if it has been found that the existing product design does not confirm to customer needs and expectations due to faults in the conceptualization stage.

To derive maximum benefits from QFD, businesses should make it a point to undertake proper analysis of all the related aspects and make the information available to all employees associated with the project. For ensuring the success of QFD initiatives, it is also necessary for businesses to manage the operations through a multidisciplinary team, comprising of members from all functional departments within the organization. This is necessary because no matter how good a plan is, there will always be the need for expert advice and suggestions for solving day-to-day problems that are likely to occur during the course of the project implementation.
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 lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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