Quality function deployment - QFD

QFD is a powerful tool to support product definition and aims to link customer requirements to technical or engineering characteristics. The tool provides a conceptual map for communication across functions and provides a focus for design priorities. QFD promotes cross functional teamwork and negotiation and focuses the mind on 'what you don't know'.

QFD originated in Japan in the late 1960's and is used extensively in the far east to support product development in a range of industries including automotive, consumer electronics, clothing, construction and shipbuilding. Since the 1970's, it has become increasingly adopted in the west and has been credited with supporting the revival of the US automotive industry.


QFD is a tool to help structure product planning and design and aims to ensure that customer needs are focused on throughout a project from concept design through to manufacture. At the heart of QFD is the House of Quality which links predetermined customer attributes to specific technical characteristics.


The House of Quality of built from 6 interrelated matrices:


The customer attributes

Describing what the product must do, a structured list of needs and wants, determined by market research. Represents the Voice of the Customer.


The engineering characteristics

Describing how the product may achieve its required performance in general terms which are not solution specific. Represents the Voice of the Designer.



Between the customer attributes and the engineering characteristics, indicating where there are strong, moderate or weak relationships.


Technical matrix

Indicating the technical priorities based on the relationships between customer requirements and engineering characteristics. Also providing quantitative design targets for each of the engineering characteristics, based on the technical priorities and competitive benchmarking.


Technical Correlations

Recording how the engineering characteristics may be wither mutually supporting or contradictory.


Planning Matrix

Providing quantitative market data for each of the customer attributes. Values can be based on user research, competitive analysis or team assessment




  • Demands a cross functional team, including market, technical and production representation
  • Can be exceedingly complex and time consuming, sometimes tedious
  • Can be too analytical - a numerical answer can be treated as a 'right' answer
  • Requires some training and strong facilitation initially

For more information, please contact:

James Moultrie

E: jm329@cam.ac.uk

T:  +44 1223 764830

Share This