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Matrix-free Modern QFD & New Tools

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We often receive these questions from our readers and web visitors:

“As a new QFD lead, I am looking for better ways for our company to promote and apply QFD in our product development. Can you give some directions how QFD should be different for today’s business?”

“Our company in Japan has been doing traditional QFD basically the same way since we learned it three decades ago. What are we missing that other global players know about Modern QFD?”

“I am a Six Sigma Black Master Belt. Should I be trained in modern QFD methods even though I already know traditional QFD? ”

"Your article said, 'the same analysis could be done using more agile and easier-to-use tools such as the Maximum Value Table and without building a House of Quality matrix.'  How? I was not aware that QFD analysis can be done without making the House of Quality table."

These are important questions. Let us address them with a short background and comparative facts:

Background

Historically, QFD was created in Japan in the 1960s when lifetime employment afforded Japanese companies abundant human resources to creating multiple wall-sized matrices such as a House of Quality matrix.

Today's lean organizations, however, make it difficult to secure the resources needed to complete such labor-intensive, time-consuming approach from initial project planning through quality assurance and control activities. Many practitioners, expressing that they would like to do more QFD than they have time for, resolve the issue by quitting in the middle.

Modern QFD was developed by QFD Institute to address the Four S's of today's lean business environment: Speedy; Smart; Slim; Sustainable.

Modern QFD offers the following advantages:

  1. Traditional QFD was extracted from Japanese Comprehensive QFD by the U.S. auto industry in the 1980s for build-to-OEM-print applications. Companies that do their own design work — including part suppliers today, end product manufacturers, service, software, food and chemical products, etc. — have found that the Traditional 4-House approach does not integrate well into their new product development process and is too time-consuming.

    Modern QFD is custom-tailored to identify the minimum QFD effort required with the optimum tools and sequence, making QFD more efficient and sustainable in today’s lean business environment.
  2. Traditional QFD required much time to make a series of complex charts. This was fine decades ago when global competition was not anywhere near today’s level and in Japan where lifetime employment practice allowed companies to dedicate abundant manpower to create comprehensive matrices. Today’s businesses, however, face limited resources and faster time-to-market pressures from both customers and competitors.

    Modern QFD is based on the Blitz QFD® method, which replaces large, complex tools such as the House of Quality (HOQ) with smaller, faster ones that deliver the major benefits with better focus on critical customer needs—all the way from the initial marketing plan to design and development to build and delivery. Our courses also teach the correct way to do a House of Quality matrix (HOQ), in case the use of this traditional tool becomes necessary in your project . For today’s practitioner, however, the important thing is to know when HOQ is appropriate and when it is too much team effort for the value it delivers.
  3. Traditional QFD did not go deep enough into the Voice of Customer analysis, since the OEM engineers were responsible for design and there was no need to go beyond the stated customer requirement.

    Modern QFD has a set of rigorous front-end tools to refine the Voice of the Customer into both spoken and unspoken customer needs. As a result, customer needs are now more precisely defined to lead to more innovative solutions—which is what today’s businesses seek.
  4. Traditional QFD does not achieve the statistical rigor that Six Sigma demands. It uses ordinal scale numbers improperly for math. For example, if you use a customer rating or sales point of “5” on the 5-point rating system to compute your Customer Importance and Competitive Assessments in your Quality Planning Table or House of Quality matrix, your results would be mathematically invalid; your downstream QFD deployments are also suspect. These ordinal scale numbers tell us in what order the items are but nothing about how intervals are related. For example, if a customer rates something a “4” on the 5-point scale, does that mean it is twice as important as an item rated as a “2”? The answer is, we cannot tell.

    Modern QFD has corrected this by using ratio scale math. This also allows customers to measure their satisfaction in whatever way they find appropriate, and still allow us to convert these to product measures necessary for design.
  5. Modern QFD includes psychological and lifestyle needs, not just functional needs. In some product segments, consumers are making the purchase decision more and more on emotional needs and images. Lifestyle QFD integrates Kansei Engineering and connects consumers’ needs for psychological and lifestyle-enhancing solutions with your product development and branding. Modern QFD further seeks out "unexpected exciting quality" in New Product Development, using New Kano Model approach.
  6. Modern QFD includes project schedule reduction methods. Traditional QFD ignores bottlenecks caused by availability of certain experts. It assumed that experts were always available or would work overtime to finish projects. Modern QFD uses Schedule Deployment and Project Deployment based on Critical Chain Project Management to improve allocation of constrained resources and finish more projects on time.
  7. Custom-tailored Modern QFD process is fully Integratable with other innovation methods such as TRIZ, Stage-Gate, Kansei Engineering, Hoshin and other innovation methods. Because it is custom-tailored, it is easier to fit into your existing development process.

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