Critical to quality is another quality communication method to improve the understanding of your customer ’ s needs and wants. Determining what the customer really needs and wants is a step above most companies ’ involvement in obtaining information and using it to increase their business growth. CTQ represents the key measurable characteristics of a product or process whose performance standards or specifi cation limits must be met to satisfy the customer ’ s (internal or external) wants.

They combine design and manufacturing improvement efforts with customer requirements. They may include the product ’ s attributes or specifi cation limits plus any other factors related to the product. A CTQ is often interpreted from a customer qualitative statement to an action and a quantitative business need or specifi cation. CTQs align improvement or design efforts with customer requirements.
CTQ products are what the customer expects of a product through its communicated needs with a supplier. The customer should list and express its needs in plain  language, and it is up to the supplier to convert them to measurable terms using quality methods such as design failure mode and effects analysis (DFMEA). The CTQ methods use a lean enterprise force to make the conscious decisions of which customer strategies to champion and provide process and product improvement with 100 percent buy – in.

CTQ information can be obtained using the QFD method by asking the questions you believe are critical to the customer. By asking each customer
contact in different areas of interest, you can determine the specifi c area of criticalness that individual is concerned about.

Examples include a product specifi cation that may have the following questions asked for it as:
1. Listed
2. Realistic
3. Required

4. Needed
5. Customer desired
6. Cost inhibited
Requirements are other specifi c questions that must be answered to determine the true needs of the product for the market. In fact, when talking with several people in the customer ’ s company, there will be as many different CTQ answers as people interviewed, and each will have their own idea of what is critical for the product, such as price, cost, function, method of manufacture, and so on. It is now up to the supplier to get the customer to reduce its want list into a need list to determine how the new product will meet the many specifi ed requirements of its customer.

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