1.4 What Is QFD Being Used for Today?
As with any versatile tool, the applications of QFD are limited only by one's imagination. The original intent of QFD was to provide product developers with a systematic method for "deploying" the Voice of the Customer into product design. The requirement to evaluate potential responses against needs is universal, however, and in the United States a wide range of applications sprang up quite rapidly.
Following are some typical QFD applications that do not fit the model of product development.
- Course design: Whats are needs of students for acquiring skills or knowledge in a certain area; Hows are course modules, course teaching style elements. Curriculum design is a natural extension of this application and has also been done using QFD23
- Internal corporate service group strategy: Whats are business needs of individual members of service group's client groups; Hows are elements of the service group's initiatives
- Business group five-year product strategy: Whats are generic needs of the business group's customers; Hows are product offerings planned for the next five years
- Development of an improved telephone response service for an electric utility company: 24 Whats are the needs of the customer; Hows are critical measures of performance of the telephone answering center
In my experience, those who become enthusiastic about QFD are generally very creative in conceiving new applications. Those who dislike the "matrix" approach to planning are generally very creative in producing reasons why QFD doesn't work.
Of course, QFD itself does not "work." Just as we cannot say that hammers "don't work," so also we cannot say that problem-solving tools such as QFD "don't work." A more accurate statement would be: "I can't work it." This book is intended to raise your confidence that, when it comes to QFD, you can say, "I can make it work for me."
1.4.1 QFD Uses within Six Sigma Methods
Any place there are voices to be heard, analyzed, and driven into development activities, QFD can be utilized. In general, there are four broad categories of voices in the Six Sigma community that may be linked to development activities involving QFD:
- Voice of the Customer (VOC): the voices of those who buy or receive the output of a process, clearly an important voice in product and process development
- Voice of the Business (VOB): the voices of funding and sponsoring managers for marketing and development activities
- Voice of the Employee (VOE): the voices of those employees who work in your company and/or develop new products, services, and technologies
- Voice of the Market (VOM): the voices of trendsetting lead-user or early-adopter market segments, or market-defining volume purchasers
Figure 1-15 illustrates how four different Six Sigma methodologies interact with these four broad voice categories. Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) employs both VOC and VOB, so that products are designed to meet and exceed customer and business requirements.
Figure 1-15 Six Sigma Methodologies and Four Voice Categories
Six Sigma Process Design (SSPD) requires VOC and employee voices (VOE), so that any new process meets both customer needs and the needs of the users of the new or redesigned process. Marketing for Six Sigma (MFSS) needs the business requirements and the market requirements to succeed in planning new product and market-segment launches. Finally, Technology for Six Sigma (TFSS) requires the technologist's voices on technology capabilities coupled with market requirements in order to certify and release new technologies to the product designers.