Understanding Customer Needs
In order to really understand what to deliver from your FMEA analysis, you need a deep understanding of what your “customers” need from it. Along these lines, we can take note of the recent passing of Dr. Akao, the founding father of Quality Function Deployment (QFD) and its true impact on our quality of life today, I am reminded of how QFD has influenced how I develop FMEAs that deliver high value to its customers and stakeholders. In my study, application, and Black-Belt certification of the QFD method the teachings of a true master and direct disciple of Dr. Akao, Glenn Mazur of the QFD Institute (www.QFDI.com), I’m guided to know the importance and means of finding the true voice of the customer…to seek to understand what the customer needs and wants. We must actively seek out the underlying customer needs to understand what is spoken (and unspoken) and where the priorities lie. When done effectively, we can hear the product or process speak to us and tell us where the risk is and if we’ve addressed that risk appropriately.
As we build our FMEAs, we must maintain a keen focus on its true purpose; to deliver to the customers and stakeholders (both internal and external), a value-adding risk assessment, prioritization, and mitigation plan through a careful, thorough, timely, and efficient analysis of the product and/or process. Whew! That’s a mouthful. What does it mean? It means that in order to really understand what to deliver from your FMEA analysis, you need a deep understanding of what your “customers” need from it. To be clear, this isn’t as simple as just taking a casual survey because you’ll just get superficial, boilerplate responses. What you need is a careful, deep look into things like, “where is the real value add from the FMEA and what isn’t?” and “what does a high-calibre FMEA analysis deliver?”