Customer-Driven Product Development Through Quality Function Deployment in the U.S. and Japan
John J. Cristiano, Jeffrey K. Liker, and Chelsea C. White, III

Quality Function Deployment is a tool for bringing the voice of the customer into the product development process from conceptual design through to manufacturing. It begins with a matrix that links customer desires to product engineering requirements, along with competitive benchmarking information, and further matrices can be used to ultimately link this to design of the manufacturing system. Unlike other methods originally developed in the U.S. and transferred to Japan, the QFD methodology was born out of Total Quality Control (TQC) activities in Japan during the 1960s and has been transferred to companies in the U.S. This article reports on the results of a 1995 survey of more than 400 companies in the U.S. and Japan using QFD. The research questions investigated in this study were developed both inductively from QFD case studies in the U.S. and Japan and deductively from the literature. The reported results are in part counterintuitive. The U.S. companies reported a higher degree of usage, management support, cross-functional involvement, use of QFD driven data sources, and perceived benefits from using QFD. For the most part, the main uses of QFD in the U.S. were restricted to the first matrix (“House of Quality”) that links customer requirements to product engineering requirements and rarely was this carried forward to later matrices. U.S. companies were more apt to use newly collected customer data sources (e.g., focus groups) and methods for analyzing customer requirements. Japanese companies reported using existing product data (e.g., warranty) and a broader set of matrices to a greater extent. The use of analytical techniques in conjunction with QFD (e.g., simulation, design of experiments, regression, mathematical target setting, and analytic hierarchy process) was not wide spread in either country. U.S. companies were more likely to report benefits of QFD in improving cross-functional integration and better decision-making processes compared to Japanese companies. Possible reasons for these crossnational differences as well as their implications are discussed. © 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.

Address correspondence to Jeffrey K. Liker, Industrial & Ops Engineering Department, University of Michigan, Room 210, 1205 Beal Avenue, Ann Arbor, NY 48109-2117, USA. J PROD INNOV MANAG 2000;17:286 –308 © 2000 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved. 655 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10010 0737-6782/00/$–see front matter PII S0737-6782(00)00047-3


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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES Dr. John J. Cristiano received his Ph.D. in Industrial and Operations Engineering in 1998. He currently is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in that department and teaches courses on economic decision making, engineering modeling, and project management. He also works as a consultant and seminar leader for Management Resources International. He conducts seminars on quality function deployment, failure modes and effects analysis, and project management. Dr. Cristiano has published in Sloan Management Review and IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management. Dr. Jeffrey K. Liker is Director of the Japan Technology Management Program and Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering at The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His research has focused on Japanese design and manufacturing methods since 1982, particularly focusing on concurrent engineering and lean manufacturing. Dr. Liker has authored or co-authored 60 journal articles and book chapters and four books. In 1995 an article on supplier involvement in product development by Kamath and Liker won a Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing Research (“A Second Look at Japanese Product Development,” Harvard Business Review, Nov.-Dec, 1994). Since then he has won three more Shingo Prizes for books and articles including for his 1997 book Becoming Lean: Inside Stories of U.S. Manufacturers, Productivity Press. His latest edited volume (with Paul Adler and Mark Fruin) is Remade in America: Transplanting and transforming Japanese Management Systems, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. He also co-authored with Mitchell Fleischer: Concurrent Engineering Effectiveness: Integrating product development across organizations, Hanser–Gardner, 1997. Dr. Liker is Chair of the Technology and Innovation Management Division of the Academy of Management and Chair of the Technology Management Section of INFORMS. Dr. Chelsea C. White III received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1974 in Computer, Information, and Control Engineering. He is Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering and of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UM. While at the UM, he has served as Chair of IOE, the College’s Senior Associate Dean, and the founding CoE Co-Director of what is now the Tauber Manufacturing Institute. He currently serves as Director of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Research Center, Co-Director of the University of Michigan Trucking Industry Program, a program jointly sponsored by CoE and the School of Business, and interim-chair of IOE. He is the editor of the IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part A, and is the founding editor of the forthcoming IEEE Transactions on ITS. His former involvement within the IEEE includes serving as President of the Systems, Man, and Cybernetics (SMC) Society from 1992 through 1993. He has published primarily in the areas of the control of finite stochastic systems and knowledge-based decision support systems with application to transportation, health care, strategic planning, design, and military decision-making. He is co-author (with A.P. Sage) of the second edition of Optimum Systems Control (Prentice–Hall, 1977) and co-editor (with D.E. Brown) of Operations Research and Artificial Intelligence: Integration of Problem Solving Strategies (Kluwer, 1990).


ver the past two decades, the emergence of a global economy characterized by intense international competition, fragmented markets of discriminating customers, and rapid technological change has provoked a new industrial revolution [9]. This revolution has been in large part been driven by the superior quality management practices of Japanese companies discovered by Americans in the 1980s [11]. Although the early quality initiatives focused on reducing process variability in manufacturing, later efforts focused on re-engineering the upstream activities of product design and development, where the opportunity to influence the cost and lead time of new products is greatest [15]. This process re-engineering is particularly evident as U.S. companies have shifted to a more concurrent engineering approach to reduce the influence of strong functional organizations of the mass production era [20,58]. The typical characteristics of the American concurrent engineering paradigm include cross-functional teams dedicated to the project to facilitate the necessary communication [58,63,64]. Adopting this approach has led to increased efficiencies in processes and fewer downstream changes [9,20]. Although concurrent engineering facilitates time-based competition, it is a strategy for failure without a critical link to customer requirements [65]. The ability to combine time-based competition and customer orientation can be extremely profitable. For example, in 1994 the Toyota Lexus contributed one third of the company’s total operating profits, whereas representing only 2% of the unit volume. This success was the result of Toyota’s ability to link their manufacturing prowess and time-based capabilities to a careful analysis of the American market and well thought out product positioning [65]. One Japanese design and development methodology that helps enable quality planning throughout the concurrent engineering process is Quality Function Deployment (QFD) [10,55,68]. Unlike other quality methods originally developed in the U.S., the QFD methodology was born out of Total Quality Control (TQC) activities in Japan during the 1960s. Development was motivated by two issues [1]: how to design a new product that meets customer needs, and [2] the desire to provide QC process charts (control plan) to manufacturing before initial production [3,55]. The QFD methodology provides a structured framework for concurrent engineering that propagates the “voice

. QFD was first brought to the attention of U. 1 which shows that QFD is . Figure 1. companies by an article by Akao and Kogure in Quality Progress in October of 1983 entitled “Quality Function Deployment and Company-wide Quality Control in Japan” [39]. QFD continues to be a popular tool and has been referred to as “one of the most useful techniques in total quality management” ([71].S. This process is summarized in Fig.17:286 –308 J. CRISTIANO ET AL.69].J. In the U. the typical approach to QFD centers around the Four-Phase Process popularized by the American Supplier Institute (ASI) [10.288 J PROD INNOV MANAG 2000. 421).S. Four-Phase Model of Quality Function Deployment. p. of the customer” through all phases of product development [26].

We conclude with a discussion of the key results and their implications. 3) improved product quality [14.S. The implementation of QFD reportedly results in many significant improvements in the product design and development process [13. the primary paradigm of QFD is Dr.17:286 –308 289 a set of matrices that relate inputs to outputs.54. practitioners have consistently reported improvements in both the products and the processes [24. Akao’s Comprehensive Model of QFD that broadly defined addresses both the quality of the product as well as the quality of the process [4]. the reported results have not been uniformly positive. The goal of Phase 3 is to identify the manufacturing operations that control the component target value and variation and correlate component specifications with process target values and specifications.S. and Japan. The research methods used for the survey are then described followed by the survey results. the project team has the ability to tailor the set of relationships they examine to their specific QFD problem. and Cost Deployment.35. and 4) increased customer satisfaction [25]. This article is organized as follows: In the next section we summarize major themes identified from the interviews and related literature.37]. the key manufacturing processes and associated parameters are translated into work instructions. depth and effectiveness of QFD usage and served as the foundation for the development of the written survey. qualitative customer requirements are translated into design independent.24. In the first phase Product Planning Matrix of QFD. but also included companies using QFD for other purposes such as software development. The starting point for the design of the survey was a series of interviews that were conducted in both the U. In Japan. The result of Phase 3 is a prioritization of manufacturing processes and specifications for key process parameters that are deployed to the fourth and final phase. has been limited primarily to case studies and surveys within country boundaries. 2) reduction of problem “spikes” during production start-up [55. particularly in the “fuzzy front end” [36]. and training requirements necessary to ensure that the quality of key parts and processes is maintained. Reliability Deployment. with varying degrees of success. The quality characteristics are prioritized from the customer’s perspective and target values (or preliminary specifications) for the desired level of performance are selected based on competitive benchmarking.61]. These include Technology Deployment. Phase 2 examines the relationship between the quality characteristics and the various components or parts of the design.34]. measurable. In the following sections we provide a brief summary of that literature starting with empirical studies in Japanese sources. There is considerable evidence that bringing market information into product design is critical for success [8. With this QFD toolbox. including: 1) reduced product development time [13. and Japan in 1993 with companies from a variety of industries that use QFD as part of their design and development processes.25. control and reaction plans.70]. In Phase 4.66]. then discussing .66]. Literature Review and Case Study Observations Quality function deployment has been widely embraced by a variety of industries around the world [55. starting with customer requirements and how these relate to engineering characteristics.66]. There are a variety of approaches to QFD that have been implemented in the U. These discussions centered on the breadth. often referred to as the House of Quality [32. however. But the full use of all phases of QFD can impact product development in many ways. Due to the wide variety of known applications of QFD and our desire to broadly understand the uses of QFD. This inconsistency in reported benefits motivated this survey to explore the similarities and differences in the application of QFD between the U.17. Although the benefits identified appear to follow logically from the QFD methodology.S. This paradigm provides the project team alternate sets of relationships to consider beyond Quality Deployment. the sample population was not limited to companies manufacturing physical goods.38]. quality characteristics of the product. The study of best practice. The result of Phase 2 is a prioritization of the component parts of the design in terms of their ability to meet the desired quality characteristic performance level. whereas in Japan. After the selection of a design concept or alternative. service and process improvement [50.38]. Ideally. these four phases combined provide a traceable link from the shop floor back to customer requirements that provides workers insight into how their job function impacts customer satisfaction.PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT THROUGH QFD J PROD INNOV MANAG 2000. The important few components or parts are then deployed to Phase 3 that explores the relationship between the part and the manufacturing processes utilized in the production of the part.

In a study of 35 QFD projects at nine American firms from 1987 through 1989. For example. In addition to these primers on the methodology there are a number of case studies of actual application of QFD written by practioners in companies describ- ing the experience [14. with the design.10. Few of the case studies presented illustrate having progressed past the first phase (House of Quality). has focused on educating potential users of QFD either through introductory materials or case studies indicating best practice and lessons learned. qualitative issues facing cross-functional teams [27]. These subjective measures included providing a structured decision making process across functional areas. The House of Quality was identified as the most frequently employed matrix. shortcomings and desired improvement in new product models in Fortune 500 companies. CRISTIANO ET AL.16. Unfortunately. QFD was most often performed using cross-functional teams. Another common theme is the need for management support of the QFD activity [17. Almost all indicated a need for strong cross-functional involvement on the QFD project team [14. Only about 25% of the projects reported experiencing the benefits of QFD on the current project. The major barriers to implementation were identified as the ability to capture. chosen from among the supporting members of the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE).28] found that the success of QFD in American corporations is mixed.26. engineering and quality control functions being involved most frequently. the study focuses on descriptions of use and does not report any information about the effectiveness of QFD. Griffin [27. The major reason given for usage of QFD was to improve the success rate of new product introductions. Dika summarizes seven years of experience with QFD at Chrysler [17] documenting successes as well as implementation lessons learned.51].17. consistent with observations from field interviews. with most of the reported improvements being product-related as opposed to manufacturing process-related improvements often reported by Japanese QFD users [24].49]. understand and organize customer needs and the large size of the matrices. those in American sources.51. There are some common themes that emerge from a review of the cases. the American Supplier Institute (ASI) and GOAL/QPC [10. Empirical Literature in Japanese Sources The most comprehensive study of QFD usage was performed in Japan in 1986 by the quality research section of the Japan Quality Control Association [2.) Eighty-two percent of the product development teams did credit the QFD process with having a long-term strategic benefit and a positive impact on the intangible. The most prominent training materials are those from the two largest QFD training organizations.290 J PROD INNOV MANAG 2000. In 1991. rather than the downstream activities.59]. with 66% of the teams reported to be 10 people or less. The 30% who responded indicated that QFD was widely utilized on a number of different products within their organizations.31. But there have been a large number of books and articles beyond these that attempt to teach the methodology [6. Key factors in the success of QFD in the companies studied were management commitment to QFD and viewing QFD as an investment in the product and the team. Mahajan and Wind [45] surveyed strategic business units (SBU) to investigate the practice. Griffin also noted that the way QFD was implemented may impact a company’s ability to observe any measurable benefit [28]. A majority of the cases are based upon the ASI four phase model of QFD. The survey found that only 9% of the 78 responding SBUs considered QFD as a frequently used model or method.J. (This is consistent with Ettlie and Johnson’s [18] assertion that QFD product development teams have difficulty addressing both product and process improvements simultaneously. team building and the dissemination of key information to users. The major shortcomings iden- .17:286 –308 J. Other interesting observations include a high degree of management involvement in the process. Empirical Literature in U. The reported size of the teams varied. with most cases concerned with and focused on customer definition (voice).67].69]. planning.69]. A mail survey was conducted of over 400 companies.31. Sources The bulk of the literature in the U.S. yet only 43% of responding companies felt a high level of satisfaction with QFD.29. This is not intended to be a tutorial on the QFD methodology but an overview of the literature related to QFD use and implementation. then describing literature about the QFD methodology itself. and finishing with observations from case studies we conducted. The responding companies reported that QFD required a significant amount of time (6 years) to penetrate throughout the organization and two years to systematize.S.

In fact.48] have advocated the use of the Voice of the Customer table as a means for the collection and analysis of customer information. the techniques that have been used to enhance QFD can be quite elaborate and some would argue estoric. Japanese automotive suppliers also reported using QFD on fewer design projects (35%) than their U.75]. In both the U. but rather in understanding the degree to which these elaborations of the methodology are used in practice. In addition.17:286 –308 291 tified were the inaccuracy of the marketing forecast and the long implementation time.S. Case Study Observations We expected from the literature to find QFD ingrained in the overall company wide quality control activities of Japanese companies and a small number of company visits supported our expectations. [41]. suggesting that the Japanese are more selective in their application of the methodology. Similar approaches to the integration of Taguchi methods and QFD has been discussed by other researchers [56. and Japanese automotive suppliers by Liker et al. we identified companies we understood used QFD extensively and visited General Motors. In 1993. it showed that Japanese automotive suppliers had been utilizing QFD a significantly longer time than their U. though Wang et al. fuzzy sets [76] have been used by Wasserman [73] and Zhou [77] to model the imprecision inherent in the QFD process.S. Fuji Univance. In sum. The Japanese companies visited included Tokyo Electric and Power Company (TEPCO). Chrysler. except comparisons are limited to a 3-point scale. counterparts and that it was part of their own product development process as opposed to a customer requirement. counterparts (51%). Selection of these targets will result in a design that is insensitive to variation in customer requirements. Franceschini and Rossetto [22] provide a way to deal with the problem of the unwieldy size of the matrix. a small scale investigation into QFD usage was included as part of a supplemental questionnaire sent to U.S. In the U. [71] show conditions in which a simple prioritization matrix may be more useful. Mazur and Nakui [47. Results confirmed the central role customer input plays in quality improvement efforts of firms but also indicate that product development teams have a tendency to separate the goals of process improvement and customer focus. The companies visited were some of the “star students” of Dr.77]. They also concluded that the benefits of QFD in terms of customer focus and process improvement are more pronounced in smaller firms than in larger firms. Ettlie and Johnson [18] examined the potential tradeoff companies face between external customer focus and internal process improvement in applications of QFD in a 1992 survey of 33 firms with experience using QFD. The problem associated with the dynamic nature of customer requirements has been addressed by ReVelle [57] through the integration of Taguchi methods and QFD. Taguchi experiments are used to select targets that are robust to variation in customer requirements [21]. QFD Methodology Literature A focus in Japan has been on the development of new technical methods to enhance QFD for new product development (such as starting with technology seeds or with product images) [52]. Not surprisingly. Kim et al. For example.S. Akao.68. Richard Allen.S. This procedure is similar to the method of assessment used in the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) [71]. and . For purposes of this article we are not interested in describing all the variants of QFD methods. Another method that has been proposed by Gustafsson and Gustafsson [30] is the use of conjoint analysis for the determination of the relative importance of customer requirements. there is ongoing research into more robust models of QFD for cost deployment [53] and a focus on the development of an integrated approach toward the capture and analysis of customer data. They examined the effects of benchmarking competitors’ products and processes and the size of the organization on customer focus and process improvement (the two goals of QFD). and Japan the focus of many of the proposed extensions to QFD have been centered on methods for ensuring proper collection and analysis of customer information and ways to integrate it with downstream characteristics [44. NEC.PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT THROUGH QFD J PROD INNOV MANAG 2000. Analysis of these data provides for a greater opportunity for identifying exciting customer needs as described by Kano [34]. the integration of the Analytic Hierarchy Process into the determination of trade-off weights for customer requirements has been proposed by Zultner [78]. This methodology employs pairwise comparisons of customer requirements to determine importance. so this was far from a random sample. Toyoda Gosei and Aishin Seiki. present a knowledge-based approach to deal with the proliferation of large numbers of House of Quality matrices by classifying and reusing them [37].

This was achieved by developing the respondent population from a database of companies that had either received QFD training or attended a QFD symposium or research meeting. more so in Japan than in the U. Changing the corporate culture in the U. Research Questions The examination of the QFD literature and exploratory case studies in the U. etc. QFD appeared to be a core element in the overall company TQC efforts. . we in effect oversampled strategic business units (SBU) or divisions within companies that were predisposed to using QFD. QFD was viewed and used much more as a tool for organizational learning. The salient points of the interviews are summarized below. focus on breakthrough product development as opposed to incremental improvements? .S. but the decision making and the cross-functional component of the process was accomplished at the Kacho (management) level. The QFD effort in the Japanese companies visited seemed rooted in their overall TQC effort. team building.S.g. . with the appropriate Kachos participating at various points in the process. and a centralized functional group. .)? . the main factor in the success of the methodology was in the support of top management. and Japan was the manner in which the QFD decision making process was structured.)? Research Methods The Sample In the U. scope and type of product? . . Although the companies visited in Japan had not been using QFD for much longer than the U.g. . . because of the negative image of the complexity of a full QFD analysis. customer satisfaction. companies in each country employed various methods for institutionalizing QFD. QFD seemed to be more ingrained in the corporate culture. including internal champions. . quality levels. . Fugi Univance used cost deployment to bring economic considerations into QFD.. product improvements (e. . we made cross-national comparisons to address the following questions: How and why is QFD used in terms of. In the Japanese “star” cases.S. Organizational characteristics. . goals in using QFD? How is QFD implemented in terms of. . .S. This was in contrast to the U. where the emphasis was placed primarily on the product planning (House of Quality) phase. . decision making and cross-functional component of the QFD process were typically performed by working engineers representing a variety of functional areas. cases. we suspected that the percentage of companies adopting QFD as a serious part of their development process was low. etc. . . In each instance. design process improvements (e. with a stronger emphasis on the use of a broad set of QFD tools. The use of QFD in this manner can quickly transfer product knowledge to the novice engineer.. . . Other companies visited in Japan connected the product requirements to process requirements through QFD. in the U. . Integration of analytic techniques. . . In contrast. and Japan gave rise to the question of how QFD is implemented similarly and differently across companies in these two different contexts. The model represents a common decision making approach within Japanese organizations that is based on bottom-up data collection and input with the final decisions made by a higher level group. In the interviews conducted.S. cross-functional teams. degree of cross-functional involvement in QFD projects? . to embrace a methodology like QFD is often more difficult because of the many “fads” that companies have pursued as quick fixes to complex problems.J. Individuals from these companies had at least been exposed to QFD and were . . . the groundwork. In Japan.S.. however.S. .S. . In our interview with a quality manager at Chrysler who was responsible for implementing QFD he explained they disguised QFD. focusing only on prioritizing customer requirements. Hayworth. CRISTIANO ET AL. levels of management support? . most of the ground work was done by the engineers in the functional areas.17:286 –308 J. Previously completed studies were used as the basis for training new engineers and the starting point for new QFD studies. use of analytic techniques? What are the reported benefits of using QFD across countries in terms of. making them more effective in a shorter period of time. For example. design-manufacturing integration. For this reason. This is generally more consistent with the contemporary U. . . Another difference observed in the usage of QFD between the U.292 J PROD INNOV MANAG 2000. use of customer data sources? .S. companies. model of cross-functional decision making that is based on team autonomy. . More specifically.

S. both in terms of the division reporting (means of 564 vs. The performance impacts of the Project X QFD study were measured along two dimensions of success: product improvement and process improvement.S..S. One hundred percentage of this population was surveyed in 1995. we present this as our first finding.S. Questionnaire and Measures The survey was based on a self-administered questionnaire that asked respondents to identify a recent QFD study that is representative of the QFD activity at their company. a subassembly. In addition. equivalency of constructs and to eliminate any ambiguities. Because there is no reason to suspect differential nonrespondent biases across countries. The remainder of the survey was used to collect data about general usage of QFD in their business unit beyond the single Project X.S. the Japa- . the database included all attendees and presenters from each of the six QFD symposiums that had been held in the U. 53.S. coincidentally totaling 400 potential respondents. The development of the sample in Japan followed the same process of identifying the potential respondent population based on the membership of JUSE who have attended QFD training or who attended or presented at the annual Japanese QFD symposium. as well as a difference in the apparent objectives for using QFD.8% in the U.17:286 –308 293 potential users. totaling 417 potential respondents. a line of similar products. and randomly selecting a respondent from each strategic business unit. 2562 employees) as well as the company overall (2968 vs. nonrespondents were sent a second survey. for eliminating consultants and academics. This is because only 33% in Japan reported using QFD (47 SBUs) compared to 69% in the U. The companies responding to the survey were significantly smaller in Japan. this was accomplished with the assistance of the QFD Institute that provided access to a database of all persons who had attended training classes provided by the American Supplier Institute (ASI) and by GOAL/QPC from 1988 through June 1994. Although the response rates were almost identical. As a final step to ensure proper content. or Japan. As we discuss later.000 employees). The product associated with Project X could be an individual component. through June 1994. The Japanese sample was then developed by narrowing the potential respondent population according to the same procedure employed in the U. where any discrepancies were resolved. Yogi Akao of Tamagawa University. (147 SBUs).S. Shigeru Mizuno) of the QFD methodology. This population was reduced through the elimination of consultants and academics.S. population was surveyed in 1995. cofounder (with Dr. As a result of sampling individuals who had attended QFD training courses we caution the reader that this is not a random sample of the population of companies in the U. To improve the response rates. or a service. the population was reduced by randomly selecting a single respondent. companies in the sample. The survey was initially translated into Japanese by a Japanese MBA student at the University of Michigan. These response rates are as good as could be expected considering the cold mailing of a lengthy survey (12 pages) and the rates were comparable between the two countries.S. Where multiple entries existed for a given SBU.PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT THROUGH QFD J PROD INNOV MANAG 2000. resulting in a respondent population comprised of industry practitioners who have demonstrated an interest in QFD by attending a class or symposium. A second MBA student (American) translated the survey back into English. it does represent two broad company samples selected in comparable ways across countries. A comparable sample was identified in Japan under the direction of Dr. Respondents to the survey were to some degree at higher levels in the Japanese companies than in the U. the sample available for analysis is much smaller in Japan. In the U. The final response rate was 37. with 56% of Japanese respondents either executives or managers versus 44% in the U. Changes were made to the questionnaire based on pretests in the U. One hundred percent of this U.5% in Japan (150 SBUs) and 36. This study was referred to throughout the questionnaire as Project X. The translation of the survey was accomplished in three steps to ensure accuracy.S. However. the discrepancy in usage seems to stem from both the general trend in the U. The respondent’s experiences with Project X became the focal point of the questionnaire that probed for an understanding of the organizational factors and QFD methodology that played a role in the effectiveness of the QFD study. and one counter to our expectations—the rate of reported QFD usage was considerably lower among the Japanese companies exposed to QFD compared to the U.S. of adapting Japanese tools and methodologies. In both countries the respondent was most likely to be from the Quality Engineering department within the organization. conducted with companies using QFD and instructors of the methodology.S. (101 SBUs).

S. American companies focused most heavily on the first “product planning phase” that relates customer desires to product requirements.S. mean responses are presented and analyzed for both the U.S. a 2 was a major change. As for project characteristics. a higher percentage (83%) of the QFD projects were focused on the development of a physical good. This seemingly broader application of QFD may partly account for the higher reported QFD usage in the U. QFD Application and Use A summary of the characteristics of the QFD projects and the degree of use is shown in Fig. and 4 was a “breakthrough design. Although the majority of the U.5%) there was a higher percentage of reported users of QFD in the U. and Japan rather than the sample size for each individual item. compared to only 20% of Japanese projects. The cross-national differences were evaluated by using a t test for comparing mean differences in the descriptive statistics. The sample size for analysis varied somewhat due to unanswered questions.S.S. Akao and Mr. than in the Japanese cases. A bit more than one-third of American companies used the part deployment phase that relates product requirements to detailed engineering specifications.). As expected American companies were more apt to use the “phases of quality deployment” popularized by the American Supplier Institute [10. A majority of Japanese SBUs (72. Subsystem and component projects accounted for approximately one quarter of the overall studies each. there was a significant difference across countries (t test. nese version of the survey was reviewed by Dr. with almost half of the QFD studies in both countries directed at an overall system. process improvement (12%) and software development (11%). SBUs who report predominately increased use (60. The measures themselves are described in the figures and text as we proceed through the Results section. For most items the maximum possible sample size was the number of respondents who at least made some use of QFD—101 SBUs in the U.294 J PROD INNOV MANAG 2000. projects were also directed at physical goods (63%). In particular. Japanese companies used a broader array of matrices than did American companies. 3 was a new design. To set the context respondents were asked how much the product had changed from the previous version—the magnitude of change. there is a broader use of QFD in the U.0001) in how respondents evaluated the frequency of use of QFD in their company at the time of the survey as compared to three years earlier.0%). Although the survey response rates were comparable between the U.S.7%) reported the same or decreased usage of QFD whereas the opposite trend was reported by the majority of U. The actual QFD matrices used are summarized into two categories. and 46 SBUs in Japan. sample noted earlier. This major difference is in line with differences in the goals and use of QFD as discussed later in the article. projects were more likely to be new products or breakthroughs. 2. in particular technology deployment and/or reliability deployment. We show for each table the maximum and minimum sample size for the U. “Comprehensive QFD” that originated with Akao [4] was more often used by Japanese companies.S. sample for service (14%). Methods of Analysis For the purpose of this article. In addition. In a few cases ␹2 was used when there were multiple categories for a variable. CRISTIANO ET AL. and Japan. p ϭ . In Japan. Few American companies used the later phases relating product to process requirements.S.S.S. the scope of the QFD projects in terms of product complexity were very comparable between the two countries.S.17:286 –308 J. A score of 1 was a minor incremental change over the previous version. 54%. (36. . Results The results presented in this section include both a brief description of the statistical results as well as some discussion of the implications and relationship to case study observations. Glenn Mazur. Akao’s written works and functioned as his translator when teaching in the U. Fig. (69%) than in Japan (33%). Mazur has been a primary translator of Dr. In addition.” As shown. Executive Director of the QFD Institute (Mr. the percentage of companies falling into each category or which scored 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale are shown in a bar chart to visually display the distribution of responses. with a small percentage directed at material development. 3 gives more detail about the actual applications of QFD on these projects. Overall. the U.J.8%) and Japan (37.69].

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT THROUGH QFD J PROD INNOV MANAG 2000.17:286 –308 295 Figure 2. QFD Application and Use. .

296 J PROD INNOV MANAG 2000. CRISTIANO ET AL.J. Project Magnitude and QFD Matrices Used.17:286 –308 J. . Figure 3.

Reasons for Use and Management Support for QFD. .17:286 –308 297 Figure 4.PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT THROUGH QFD J PROD INNOV MANAG 2000.

31). Individual interviews and focus group discussions are two primary tools used in the collection of new customer requirements. a greater number of functions and people were involved in U. As shown in Fig.62]. Akao et al. product clinics.17:286 –308 J. sample. Reasons for Use and Degree of Organizational Support Fig.28).S.28 vs.80 vs.S. the allocation of sufficient resources (3. 3. (84%) and Japan (93%) were motivated to use QFD was because there was a desire for better designs. time allocated for collecting customer requirements (3.J.S.S. The definition of what was meant by a better design however. Data Sources Used in QFD Studies The ability to understand and address customer needs is key to the success of any product development effort.S.26].51 vs.S. The information used as input to the QFD process can be derived from a number of sources that are available both in the daily operations of an organization and that are collected specifically for a revision or new product development. (83%) than in Japan (53%). and Japanese samples is consistent with other comparative studies [42. Four reasons (originally identified in the literature review) for using QFD were: desire to improve designs. and top management support of QFD. and reduce product development cycle time. One of the strengths of the QFD methodology is that it provides a systematic or structured roadmap for concurrent engineering and a tool to get different functions focused on common objectives [26].S. Japanese companies already had strong teamwork and relatively fast lead times.S.S. 6 summarizes the data sources utilized for the QFD studies by the U. companies as they have made the transition from strong functional organizations to cross-functional project teams.S [20. There was a significant difference between the U. [2.51).S. This stands in contrast to the emphasis the Japanese companies reported placing on the second category of market input— existing product data sources. appears to differ across samples. CRISTIANO ET AL. This difference between U. 4 summarizes the reasons for use and the degree of management support for QFD in the SBUs surveyed. respondents who reported to a greater degree they had adequate management support in terms of money allocated to the QFD study (mean difference 3. By contrast.S. time for collecting customer requirements and performing the QFD study. and Japanese respondents separated into two groups. and listening at shows as sources of information for the QFD study. Cross-Functional Involvement in QFD The use of cross-functional teams is a common feature of concurrent engineering and process improvement in the U. The case studies suggested greater management support for QFD in Japan.S. 3.-Japan differences in the use of customer visits and surveys. There are not significant U. 2. 4. (46%) and Japan (15%). improve cross-functional communication. These are sources of customer data that companies actively seek to proactively meet the needs of customers. 4 that one of the primary reasons companies in both the U. There was clearly a greater emphasis on using a cross-functional team structure for QFD in the U. QFD studies than in Japan. Fig. the focus of creating a better design was closely tied to identifying new or current customer needs and meeting these needs. the perception of the level of overall resources provided. and Japan. Seventeen percent of the reported QFD study failures reported by Ettlie and Johnson [18] were due to poor market data.S. 5 summarizes the degree of cross-functional involvement in QFD projects in the U. Al- . In addition.. This has been valuable to many U. It is clear from the results in Fig. Fig. 2. (89%) and Japan (72%) in their motivation for using QFD to improve customer satisfaction. QFD was more likely to be viewed as a valuable tool for reducing product development time and improving cross-functional communication compared to the Japanese companies.S. The degree of organizational support for QFD was characterized by the resources made available by management for the Project X QFD study in terms of the availability of financial resources.77 vs.49] reported a high degree of cross-functional involvement in Japanese QFD studies (77%). especially in an environment of time-based competition [65]. There are however large and significant differences between the use of individual interviews in the U. and general support provided by top management (3. In the U.43. (66%) versus Japan (37%) and focus group discussions in the U.298 J PROD INNOV MANAG 2000. and Japan. there were significant differences between the U. The first looks at the use of newly collected customer data. In the U. improve customer satisfaction.30). however it was the U.S.

Fig.17:286 –308 299 Figure 5.PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT THROUGH QFD J PROD INNOV MANAG 2000.1 out of 5). Product Improvement as a Result of QFD Fig. design of experiments. Although the results in terms of the impact that QFD had on the product were in general favorable in both countries.78]. 35%) and warranty data (34% vs. U. The more extensive use of these tools is consistent with the results from Fig. particularly in the Product Planning matrix.S.5%).S. 7). Japanese companies focused their efforts more on learning from customer complaint information (67% vs.S. 42%).S. 7%). As the QFD methodology became more popular and mature. are all less than 20% of the respondents (mean less than 2. The first portion of the figure illustrates the extent to which these customer information analysis tools are utilized in the U. 7 summarizes the techniques used in conjunction with QFD. The companies reporting using simulation.S. regression.S. in particular in the use of voice of the customer tables (61% vs. companies reported a greater im- . mathematical target setting and AHP a great deal.7% and 56. and Japan. and in Japan [68. Cross-Functional Involvement in QFD..S.S. In the U.7%) reported that QFD had a positive impact on the resulting product. Data Analysis Techniques Used in QFD The use of newly developed techniques for analyzing and translating customer information into customer requirements has become popular both in the U. though both companies reported making use of existing marketing data. research publications both in the U.4%) and Japanese companies (72. The vast majority of U. 8 summarizes the self-reported impact that QFD had on product improvement for Project X in both U. and Japanese companies. 6 comparing the sources of data for the QFD study and illustrates the open-ended customer requirements that characterize a QFD study in the U. companies (85. Companies in both countries reported that the use of QFD resulted in better designs (66. We will return to this finding in the discussion section. 20%). and context analysis (20% vs. The survey results show that these relatively complex analytical techniques are used very little by companies in either country (see Fig.S. affinity diagrams (52% vs. there is a greater emphasis on the use of these tools. and Japan shifted their focus to the integration of analytical tools into the QFD methodology. 18%) than the U.

J. CRISTIANO ET AL. . Figure 6. Data Sources Used in QFD Studies.17:286 –308 J.300 J PROD INNOV MANAG 2000.

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT THROUGH QFD J PROD INNOV MANAG 2000. . Analysis Tools Used in QFD Studies.17:286 –308 301 Figure 7.

17:286 –308 J. companies were placing on addressing customer needs at the time of the survey. One of the criticisms of QFD is that the use of the methodology limits a team’s ability to innovate as part of the product development process.J.S. though others argue it can enhance innovation [13]. In our survey.302 J PROD INNOV MANAG 2000. This perception is consistent with the renewed emphasis U. Reported Product Impacts of QFD. . Figure 8. CRISTIANO ET AL. pact on the final product than Japanese companies.

Over 400 companies were surveyed in each country with the research goal of understanding the cultural differences in how QFD is applied and the . which we then take up in the Conclusion section. and Japanese companies Have Different Goals for the Use of QFD? Companies in both the U. This is true for the forging of long-term cross-functional relationships (57. U. 36. The more recent emphasis in the U. with the majority of QFD applications being at the overall systems level. The results reported in both the U.S. and Japanese samples had a desire to use QFD to improve the designs of their products. Process Improvement as a Result of QFD From the results shown in Fig.S.5%) reported that the use of QFD increased the number of design alternatives considered. Despite the fact that we began with a list of companies that had sent employees to training in QFD and were thus exposed to it. facilitating rational decisions (76% vs.S.6% for U. The first. This is particularly surprising because QFD was invented in Japan and is generally portrayed as a key quality tool in Japan [2. improving corporate memory (73.2%). and Japan tend to indicate that respondents in both countries were split in their opinion in terms of QFD aiding innovation in the developments of products. vs. The detailed discussion of results that follows will suggest some reasons for this. and in Japan. 53. and improving communication between marketing and design (62.S. there were more diverse application of the methodology in the U.S. companies (46. in terms of improving team building and decision making in the organization.3]. To What Degree is QFD Applied Differently in the U. creating unity among team members (67% vs.S. companies report QFD having a significantly higher impact than the Japanese. In the discussion of the literature and case study results. companies versus Japanese companies. Fig. only 33% of the Japanese companies used QFD at all upon returning home compared to 69% of the American companies. 8 also summarizes the reported results for customer acceptance of the product that was the subject of the Project X QFD study. we posed a number of research questions. Nearly half of U. perceived benefits of using the methodology.S. 47. Respondents were selected in comparable ways across countries—all had attended training courses on QFD.9%).PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT THROUGH QFD J PROD INNOV MANAG 2000. In the U.S. there were also many unexpected results.1% vs. and Japan management approaches. In the case of each measure.S. whereas both U. Those questions are now revisited. companies also reported that QFD increased customer satisfaction with their product (82. companies however were significantly more likely to use QFD with the goal of achieving other benefits measured. The result is nearly identical when we examine the reported increased ability to innovate as a result of using QFD.3%). but still significant difference in reported impacts on the visibility of the product in the marketplace (52. Than in Japan in Terms of the Scope and Type of Product? The survey results show that the application of QFD in the two countries was remarkably similar in terms of the scope of the QFD project. but more than half of the companies disagreed.7%). The U.S. Do U. the benefit of QFD has been in facilitating organizational change.17:286 –308 303 two specific issues were addressed: the number of design alternatives considered and increased ability to innovate as a result of using QFD. and Japan. There is a smaller. on meeting or exceeding customer Discussion In this article. we have presented the results of a cross-sectional survey of QFD usage in the U.6% vs.S.S.2%). 37. 9 it is clear that QFD plays a very different role in U.7%) and Japanese companies (40.. was that the American companies were much more likely to use QFD on an actual project. U.S. The respondents were all participants in some type of training course on QFD and therefore do not represent a random sample of companies in the U. in light of the survey results. QFD was more likely to be applied to service. process improvement.S.S.S.S.6%).7%) significantly more than the Japanese companies reporting (42.8% for Japan). and software than in Japan. In terms of the type of product QFD is applied to. 54. and Japanese companies reported that QFD had a modest impact on the internal measure of decreasing initial quality problems. It appears clear that in the U. Although some findings were not surprising in light of common understandings of U.7% vs. 26. more so than in Japan. than in Japan.S. and perhaps most significant.

. CRISTIANO ET AL. Figure 9. Reported Process Impacts of QFD.17:286 –308 J.304 J PROD INNOV MANAG 2000.J.

warranty data) significantly more than U. U. Voice of the customer tables.PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT THROUGH QFD J PROD INNOV MANAG 2000.S. The U.S. In contrast. This was clear from the motivation for using QFD.S. however when we consider the differences in how QFD was viewed in the U.S.S. Are U. there was a focus on collecting new information about customers by U. Addressing the needs identified often results in significant changes to the product.S. than in Japan.S. On the surface this seems surprising. U. and Japanese Companies? No. companies. although there has been a number of articles published on incorporating tools such as regression. affinity diagrams.S. involve more functions in the process.17:286 –308 305 needs. Companies More Focused on Collecting and Analyzing Customer Information Targeted Toward Breakthrough Product Development. context analysis were all used more significantly in the U. In contrast. companies as was just discussed. focus group discussions were all important sources of customer information for the U. but not as expected.S. As a result. and Japanese Companies Receive Different Levels of Management Support for Their QFD Projects? Yes. organizations. reactive product data sources (complaint information. management allocated more resources to the task. As a result of this focus. Rather it was considered core to the operations. These tools are valuable in gaining an understanding of customer requirements and therefore targeted toward new product development versus incremental improvement in existing products. a tendency to focus on complaint and warranty information in QFD studies implies a basic understanding of customer needs and is consistent with a continuous improvement strategy for product development –fixing problems with the current product and incrementally improving. companies were more likely to use a cross-functional team structure. The reported benefits of QFD are all consistent with the pressures U. Continuous Improvement Approach by Japanese Companies? Yes. the results indicated that individual users of QFD in Japanese companies were not satisfied with the management support they received compared to reports by users in U. To What Degree Do U. There may Do U. There are two possible explanations for this: 1) Because QFD was relatively new to the U. this result is consistent. design of experiments. Do U. companies were more likely to collect new data on customer needs. as Opposed to an Incremental. individual interviews. and/or 2) Japanese management viewed QFD as an institutionalized part of their operation that did not require additional resources. and Japanese Companies Utilize Different Data Sources as a Part of Their QFD Projects? The results of the survey indicate that the U. companies and the promise of the benefits of QFD were in line with company pressures. cross-functional organizations and the pressure of time-based competition seemed to motivate the use of QFD.S. Japanese companies used existing. QFD studies. but participants in the QFD studies disagreed. and involve more people in the QFD study. and Japan. . and AHP into the QFD methodology. companies for their QFD studies.S.S.S. The emphasis on newly collected customer data indicates a need and desire to better understand the customer. and Japanese Companies Use Different Levels of Cross-Functional Involvement in QFD Projects? The answer is yes.S. Are Analytical Techniques Broadly Used as a Part of QFD in Both U. The perception from the literature and case studies was that QFD was ingrained in the day to day operations of Japanese companies and was therefore not viewed as requiring additional overhead. companies have been facing over the last two decades. companies made extensive use of the “preprocessing” tools for the identification of customer requirements for use in the QFD study. the results reported indicate that the use of these tools is not wide spread in industry. companies viewed QFD not only as a tool for incorporating the voice of the customer into the design of the product.S. Customer visits. However.S.S. QFD became a vehicle for developing cross-functional involvement in the U. The same emphasis on these tools was not reported by Japanese companies.S. but also as a tool for organizational change. The Japanese motivation for using QFD seems to be focused more on the improvement of the product not the organizational change factors of improving cross-functionality and reducing cycle time.

The discussion above suggests that part of the reason for the lower rate of adoption of QFD in the Japanese companies may be due to the greater expectations of U. companies.S. U.S. QFD served a dual purpose of not only a structured method for ensuring that customer requirements are met. U. companies. and two measures of product acceptance (particularly customer satisfaction) are significantly higher than Japanese companies report. companies report in the area of team building and decision making compared to Japanese companies.S.S. and Improved Decision Making? There are no significant differences in improved design and manufacturing communication across the two countries. The incorporation of many of these analytical techniques can potentially take the tool out of the hands of those directly involved in product development due to the complexity. For example. and the use of tools and methodologies need to also adjust. U. Again this is consistent with the different goals of the U. strategies need to adjust. CRISTIANO ET AL. Also. in fact. Are U.S.S.S. companies used QFD to a greater extent and reported deriving more significant product and process improvements.17:286 –308 J. U. and Japanese QFD and the implication for product development strategies. Of course this customer input must be considered in light of a carefully developed product strategy.S. it is possible to set all of the target levels for QFD equal to those of competitors and therefore not differentiate the product from competitors. U. bringing in customer requirements in a systematic way may be a higher priority. for the U. but also as a tool for facilitating organizational change.S. Management support and cross-functional involvement were also higher in the U. be many reasons for this. companies in using QFD. and Japan companies for the QFD studies.S. One is that QFD was born out of an industry need for a tool to ensure the quality of design.S.306 J PROD INNOV MANAG 2000. companies in the 1980s had the reputation for being poor listeners to customer needs compared to their Japanese counterparts. For American companies.S. There may be a number of reasons for this difference. a low priority for Japanese companies that presumably felt they had sufficient communication across functions. companies emphasis on understanding new customer needs would likely translate to a more significant impact on the final product and an increase in customer satisfaction. The results contradicted these expectations. there is significant differences in the benefits that U. Therefore. Japanese companies were more likely to incrementally improve products and data from customer complaints and warranty were already a strong source of data on what to change—QFD may have been overkill for this purpose. We have discussed the difference in focus between U. The U. Conclusion We had expected QFD to be more widely and effectively used in Japanese companies than in the U. In the dynamic world of product development. Companies Realizing the same Reported Benefits of Design Process Improvement from Using QFD as Japanese Companies in Terms of Design and Manufacturing Communication. companies and have a higher degree of management support and cross-functional involvement in the Japanese cases. However. companies reported significantly better results than Japanese companies on a number of different dimensions. the most common use was to clarify customer requirements and be sure they are considered in the product engineering requirements. Team Building. Although in theory QFD enables the product development team to drive the voice of the customer through to the manufacturing process. The relatively low reported benefits in this area may reflect the lack of emphasis both countries place on the Process Planning and Production Planning matrices.S. Companies Realizing the Same Reported Benefits of Using QFD as Japanese Companies? Yes and in fact.S. Two of the measures of the perceived impact that QFD has had on products in the U. A further update of this 1995 QFD survey could help us understand how the use of this important methodology is adapting to the Are U. companies expected to use QFD as an aid to improving cross-functional communication. This could mean driving a poor product strategy through to product and process development. more likely to start from scratch in developing new products. practical decision aid that is based upon the experience and judgement of the team. .J. companies report significantly greater benefits in the areas of forging longterm cross-functional relationships. facilitation of rational decisions. Moreover. and creating unity among team members.S.S. The result was a simple.

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