Whether it is a new product, service, or ERP system, understanding your customer’s business requirements is critical to a successful design and implementation. The advent of Big Data and increasingly sophisticated analytical techniques are providing critical insights into what is important to customers. The challenge is no longer the identification of what is important; the challenge is to translate that insight into functional requirements for your business processes, IT system, or new products and services. 

The first step is to find the right tool; one that will effectively integrate all requirements and facilitate the complete organization of the detailed process design and action plan. The objective is more efficient and effective deployment planning to reduce the cost of development, and to assure the proper alignment of business processes with internal and external customer needs and wants. This will deliver higher customer satisfaction as well as a smoother and more trouble-free introduction of an IT system, new product, service or process. My design teams have used DFSS to identify and organize customer data and establish that critical link between the Voice of the Customer and the final actual functional design. When customer requirements are translated into “functional Requirements” it is much easier to actually produce the design. 

The basic Quality Functional Deployment (QFD) house of quality and the ancillary tools facilitates the integration of all the aspects of a sound design. The goal is to ensure that requirements are not only understood, but completely integrated so that new product, service, or IT systems works for users the first time. The old saying of “measure twice and cut once” is not just for the carpenter. Failure to integrate all the pieces in the design means higher costs, longer lead times, and lower quality. 

For me, the key differentiator in DFSS is the deployment (flow-down) of high-level requirement variability through capability assessment and prediction. Flow-down is the process of deploying higher level requirements (both targets and specification limits) into the design. Capability assessment is the process of checking the design to determine if the requirements can be met by the actual processes. The design concept is developed through a series of steps which identify the functions required to meet your customers’ needs and to develop and evaluate proper concepts. Functional analysis is then employed to determine what each function has to accomplish. Functional analysis is also used to help generate innovative concepts that meet the design characteristics as well as customer requirements that have been identified.  

In the high level design phase, I believe it essential that the various elements that affect the requirements of the process are detailed. These elements include product/service, process methods, information systems, human systems, facilities, equipment, and materials. All of these elements need to be correlated to the design of the process and fully developed in the next step of DFSS.

As a design moves forward in detail, an evaluation of the capabilities and gaps that are necessary to selecting best-fit designs are measured against statistical analyses of variation-based methods to test it. DFSS enables us to ensure that the capability of your product, service or processes is capable of providing services at a Six Sigma performance level. Worst case analysis, standard deviation analysis, computerized simulation models, and experimental design determines the response of the effect to variation in the component. Capability assessment determines whether the new designs are capable of meeting the developed requirements…and as the design matures, the sophistication of the prediction also increases. The use of analytical tools to analyze processes embedded within each product, service, or IT System to accurately measure, refine and optimize the quality and efficiency of your output is a real differentiator. It is not enough to “fix it” after the go live date; the damage that poor designs and the resultant defects have on a company’s ability to service its customers, directly impacts an organizations reputation, competitiveness, and profitability. DFSS notable takes longer through the detailed design phase; however, in the long run, your return on investment will be higher, implementation timelines will be shorter, and your customers will certainly be more satisfied.