QFD for product & business development

Know – WHY, Know – WHAT

Know –  WHY, Know – WHAT
Cheshire Puss” she [Alice] began, “would you please tell me which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends on where you want to get,” said the cat.
Lewis Carroll

   The above seems obvious for all companies that put a product or service into the market.

   In general, the “place to be” and the way to get there, are laid down in the Vision and Mission statement of the company and as a follow on, the company is striving to roll out the strategy throughout all layers of the company. This is the foundation for all decision taking.

   The reality however shows a different picture. Failure rate of new products depends on the type of product, but rates of 1 out of 10 products being successful, being profitable and survive the first two years after introduction are not uncommon.

Do you recognize the following symptoms?

  • No product differentiators, me too products.
  • Competing on price only.
  • Extended development process, due to unclear or changing requirements.
  • Market dictated re-designs.
  • Incoherent product portfolio
  • Disconnect between product portfolio and marketing message. No clearly defined (focus) market segments.
  • Efficiency loss through not-aligned company layers
  • Unclear company profile or market positioning.

Among the most important reasons why products fail we find:

  • Products or services fail to meet and exceed the expectations of the customer or of competing products.
  • The positioning and targeting (segmentation analysis) is poorly defined and communicated.
  • Insufficient awareness of the product in the market as a consequence of the disconnect between the development side and the marketing/sales side.
The solution starts with the awareness of the fundamental difference between the Customer Needs and the Product Requirements.
(Draeger DRP Handbook).

Know why, Know what

The “Know Why” section refers to the customer needs. The “Know What” touches the Product specification part

The “Know Why” section refers to the customer needs. The “Know What” touches the Product specification part

   The “Know What” part is in general well covered by Six Sigma or proprietary processes. They are well defined, documented, implemented and trained.

   The customer part however is at best, supported by: sloppy VOC (Voice of Customer), fuzzy front end, “Sales” is saying and my best customer says. Most often the loudest voice wins. It results in scattered, random, subjective, not qualified, and incomplete information. It is missing company focus, budget and qualified methodologies.

   It is still a puzzle why investment in time and money for redesigns is an accepted practice, while companies are hesitating to invest in the quality of the front-end process.
The impact on company image and reputation is apparently accepted as “collateral damage”

   Quality Function Deployment (QFD) offers are structured approach and proven tools to address in an integrated way the key elements in the front end process: VOC, Strategy deployment throughout the company and Product Development.

   QFD includes participation of all layers within the company, ensures alignment and buy in of all disciplines: Marketing, Sales, Engineering and Development aligned, no surprises.
   As such QFD is a valuable addition to the product oriented processes already in place, but essential in designing in the Voice of the Customer and increasing the chance on success in the marketplace.

Written by:
John Smit

John Smit

Program manager Netherlands

   After receiving a Masters degree in Engineering from the Technical University of Delft, John worked for more than 30 years for global companies like AES, Dräger Medical and TYCO Electronics. He started his career as Project Manager for AES, where he introduced one of the first optical scanners into the market. With Dräger Medical, he lead several Product Management and Business Management teams and as Marketing Operations Manager...

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