Some further studies on improving QFD methodology and analysis

Dissertatie 1 (Onderzoek Tu/E / Promotie Tu/E)

Raharjo, H. (2010). Some further studies on improving QFD methodology and analysis. Eindhoven: Technische Universiteit Eindhoven. ((Co-)promot.: Aarnout Brombacher & M. Xie).

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Abstract

 

Quality Function Deployment (QFD) starts and ends with the customer. In other words, how it ends may depend largely on how it starts. Any QFD practitioners will start with collecting the voice of the customer that reflects customer’s needs as to make sure that the products will eventually sell or the service may satisfy the customer. On the basis of those needs, a product or service creation process is initiated. It always takes a certain period of time for the product or service to be ready for the customer. The question here is whether those customer-needs may remain exactly the same during the product or service creation process. The answer would be very likely to be a ‘no’, especially in today’s rapidly changing environment due to increased competition and globalization.

The focus of this thesis is placed on dealing with the change of relative importance of the customer’s needs during product or service creation process. In other words, the assumption is that there is no new need discovered along the time or an old one becomes outdated; only the relative importance change of the existing needs is dealt with. Considering the latest development of QFD research, especially the increasingly extensive use of Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) in QFD, this thesis aims to enhance the current QFD methodology and analysis, with respect to the change during product or service creation process, as to continually meet or exceed the needs of the customer. The entire research works are divided into three main parts, namely, the further use of AHP in QFD, the incorporation of AHP-based priorities’ dynamics in QFD, and decision making analysis with respect to the dynamics.

The first part focuses on the question "In what ways does AHP, considering its strength and weakness, contribute to an improved QFD analysis?" The usefulness of AHP in QFD is demonstrated through a case study in improving higher education quality of an education institution. Furthermore, a generalized model of using AHP in QFD is also proposed. The generalized model not only provides an alternative way to construct the house of quality (HoQ), but also creates the possibility to include other relevant factors into QFD analysis, such as new product development risks.

The second part addresses the question "How to use the AHP in QFD in dealing with the dynamics of priorities?" A novel quantitative method to model the dynamics of AHP-based priorities in the HoQ is proposed. The method is simple and time-efficient. It is especially useful when the historical data is limited, which is the case in a highly dynamic environment. As to further improve QFD analysis, the modeling method is applied into two areas. The first area is to enhance the use of Kano’s model in QFD by considering its dynamics. It not only extends the use of Kano’s model in QFD, but also advances the academic literature on modeling the life cycle of quality attributes quantitatively. The second area is to enhance the benchmarking part of QFD by including the dynamics of competitors’ performance in addition to the dynamics of customer’s needs.

The third part deals with the question "How to make decision in a QFD analysis with respect to the dynamics in the house of quality?" Two decision making approaches are proposed to prioritize and/or optimize the technical attributes with respect to the modeling results. Considering the fact that almost all QFD translation process employs the relationship matrix, a guideline for QFD practitioners to decide whether the relationship matrix should be normalized is developed. Furthermore, a practical implication of the research work towards the possible use of QFD in helping a company develop more innovative products is also discussed.

In brief, the main contribution of this thesis is in providing some novel methods and/or approaches to enhance the QFD’s use with respect to the change during product or service creation process. For scientific community, this means that the existing QFD research has been considerably improved, especially with the use of AHP in QFD. For engineering practice, a better way of doing QFD analysis, as a customer-driven engineering design tool, has been proposed. It is hoped that the research work may provide a first step into a better customer-driven product or service design process, and eventually increase the possibility to create more innovative and competitive products or services over time.