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Competitive Benchmarking and QFD


The American Society for Quality (ASQ) has asked QFD Institute to update its "Learn About Quality" content on QFD.

Some of their current materials are nearly 40 years out-of-date! So we are happy to contribute updated content to make the materials more consistent with the new ISO 16355 standard for QFD. The initial effort will be featured as an ASQ Member Gift webcast on "Competitive Benchmarking and QFD." It went live November 1, 2019 in honor of Quality Month .

Those who have taken the QFD Green/Black Belt® training know that competitive benchmarking plays an important role in the design and development of new products. After all, why would a customer buy something new unless the new product offered superior benefits over what they use now (which could be your current offering, a competitive product in the same category, or something completely different).

Benchmarking competitors can be employed at different QFD phases to help the team identify opportunities where both the producer and the customer get the "biggest bang for the buck." Please see below on how to access the ASQ webcast and a summary of the content.

How To Access ASQ Webcast

ASQ webcast

It should be noted that QFD Institute does not receive any monetary compensation from ASQ. For successful QFD benchmarking, we recommend the QFD Green Belt© course or QFD Black Belt© course.



ASQ Webcast Preview "Competitive Benchmarking and QFD "

The ASQ webcast on QFD will review several benchmarking applications from the QFD Black Belt ® training and ISO 16355 standard. It will include case studies and examples.

  1. Competitive Benchmarking can begin as early as the strategic planning phase, or Hoshin Kanri, that will define the QFD business, program, and project goals. In determining which hoshin or strategic policies to pursue, a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis includes benchmarking stronger competitors (our weaknesses, their threats) and weaker competitors (our strengths create opportunities). Porter's Five Force Competitive Analysis and other tools are also suggested. Detailed guidance can be found in chapter 4 of the QFD Black Belt ® training and ISO 16355-2:2017, 9.1.2.3 through 9.1.2.5.
  2. The competitive landscape can be further quantified and tactical responses identified using the New Lanchester Strategies. These specify certain competitive market structures based on number of competitors and relative market shares. Our position within these markets determines whether we are in attack mode or defend mode (or both), and which competitors are within shooting range. Competitors we wish to attack which are within shooting range should be pursued, while those outside our shooting range require a different tactical plan. Detailed guidance can be found in chapter 5 of the QFD Black Belt ® training and ISO 16355-2:2017, 9.1.2.6.
  3. Technology benchmarking is addressed several ways in Modern QFD. First, we can identify new markets and applications where are existing technology offers superior functions and performance to technologies currently used in these targets markets and applications. A well-known case study by Nippon Carbon used a Y-matrix to learn that their carbon fiber was superior to steel in weight and flex characteristics important to the sporting goods industry. Another tool, the TRIZ Patterns of Technology Evolution, can be applied to competitors to take action to protect future products. Detailed guidance can be found in chapter 5 of the QFD Black Belt ® training and ISO 16355-5:2017, 10.4.3.5.1.1.
  4. After identifying key competitors, it is important to better understand the customers who prefer their products and why. Whys can include function, performance, price, availability, support, security, robustness, quality, etc. Their key applications can be defined in the Customer Segments Table and detailed guidance can be found in both the QFD Green Belt® and in chapter 10 of the QFD Black Belt ® training, as well as ISO 16355-2:2017, 9.2.2.2.
  5. Customer visits, or gemba visits, can be planned to both interview and witness key customers and their key applications to learn why the competitor's products are preferred and what unfulfilled customer needs still exist, which create opportunities for us. Things-gone-right with competitive products (which we must match) and things-gone-wrong with competitive products (which we must beat) are identified in the Customer Process Model and Gemba Visit Table, which can also specify how customers measure the right or wrong in their life or work, as well as what thresholds must be crossed in order for our new product to be successful. Failing to cross the threshold means that while our new product may offer superior function or performance, it is insufficient to trigger a sale or switch due to other "costs" such as training, consumables, time, etc. Over performance or function can also mean over-engineered and thus costly, complex, or high failure rates. Detailed guidance can be found in both the QFD Green Belt ® and in chapters 11-12 of the QFD Black Belt ® training, as well as ISO 16355-2:2017, 9.2.5.2.3 and 9.2.5.2.4.
  6. Additional competitive benchmarking methods and tools such as Analysis of Beliefs, Lead User Analysis, Focus Groups, Social Media, Net Promoter System, Ethnographies and Kansei Engineering , Design Thinking, and Continuous and Collaborative QFD, Fuzzy Set Theory, and Repertory Grid Technique. Detailed guidance can be found in chapters 15 and 26 of the QFD Black Belt ® training and ISO 16355-2:2017, 9.2.5.5 through 9.2.5.18, ISO 16355-3:2019, 9.7 and 9.15.
  7. Competitive Benchmarking of customer needs is done in the Quality Planning Table . This may include additional informational factors such as relative importance of the customer needs to the key customers (for which AHP is recommended), measurement and degree of satisfaction with current product (ours, competitors, alternatives), hoped-for or planned target level of and degree of satisfaction, selling point, and other factors. The Quality Planning Table may be only informational or may be weighted using AHP-derived weights, as ordinal scale weighting is not recommended due to its mathematical limitations. Detailed guidance can be found in both the QFD Green Belt ® and in chapter 21 of the QFD Black Belt ® training, as well as ISO 16355-4:2017, 12.2.
  8. Competitive Technical Benchmarking of product functional requirements is done in the Design Planning Table . This may include additional informational factors such as relative importance of the functional requirements based on their relationships to the customer needs, actual performance levels of current product and competitors' products, target specifications and method of measurement, degree of difficulty in achieving the target, competitive advantage of achieving the target, and survey results using the New Kano Model for different performance levels. The Design Planning Table may be only informational or may be weighted using AHP-derived weights, as ordinal scale weighting is not recommended due to its mathematical limitations. Detailed guidance can be found in both the QFD Green Belt ® and in chapters 20 and 24 of the QFD Black Belt ® training, as well as ISO 16355-5:2017, 10.3.4.1.

Modern QFD uses Competitive and Technical Benchmarking in several places during new product development. This creates confidence that the customer's process of choosing what products to buy is well understood and that efforts have been made to focus on what matters most to the customer. For the next QFD Green Belt® and QFD Black Belt® training: Please see the Calendar or contact us.

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Information and order of ISO 16355: Please visit https://www.iso.org/committee/585031/x/catalogue/

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