Quality Function DeploymentQuality Function Deployment or QFD is a method that transforms qualitative customer’s demands into quantitative parameters that can be incorporated into the design of a product. QFD focuses on listening to the voice of the customer and then effectively responding to those needs and expectations.

This method was developed by Yoji Akao in Japan in 1966 in order to identify what a customer wants and determine how to meet those requirements in an effective way. QFD is based on the work of Yoji Akao in quality assurance and quality control points with function deployment used in value engineering. The automotive industry was the first one to successfully implement it and now it is used in a wide variety of services, consumer products, and even military needs.

The goal of QFD is to deliver a product or service that is exactly what the customer wants instead of one that emphasizes what the company knows how to do. This is achieved by linking the requirements of the end user to subsystems or specific elements of the development process of a product or service (from design and development to engineering, manufacturing and services). In other words, QFD enables organizations to deploy the methods for achieving the desired product or service in order to guarantee customer satisfaction.

The basic QFD methodology involves the use of charts and matrices. It starts with the initial matrix, commonly termed the house of quality, where the most important product or service attributes or qualities are identified, these are composed of customer wows, wants, and musts. Once the attributes and qualities have been prioritized, QFD deploys them to the appropriate organizational function for action.

QFD is also commonly referred to as matrix product planning, decision matrices and customer-driven engineering. Regardless of the name given, many organizations are using this method to:

  • Understand ‘true’ customer needs from the customer’s perspective.
  • Identify what ‘value’ means to the customer, from the customer’s perspective.
  • Decide what features to include in a product.
  • Determine what level of performance to deliver.
  • Prioritize each product or service characteristic.
  • Link the needs of the customer with design, development, engineering, manufacturing, and service functions.

Businesses strive to keep up with the rapid changes that occur on our world today, and in this rush to become more competitive, organizations tend to grow farther away from their customers.  By using QFD, organizations are able to connect with their customer’s need and translate these needs into actions. Actions that will enable them to satisfy their customer’s expectations by designing quality into their products and services.