iSixSigma

House of Quality

Definition of House of Quality:

HOQ is a summary diagram that is used as part of a structured approach to transform your voice of customer requirements into actual product specifications. This approach is called Quality Function Deployment (QFD)

This article will discuss how to build the HOQ, present the benefits of the HOQ and some best practices to building and using the HOQ to develop your process or product to meet your customers’ needs and expectations.

Overview: What is House of Quality? 

House of Quality, or HOQ, is a product planning matrix that is used to show how your customer requirements relate directly to the actions you can take to achieve those requirements. 

HOQ diagrams resemble the shape of a house and should be created using direct customer input if applicable. HOQ is considered the primary tool in QFD and serves as the roadmap for describing the journey from initial idea to final product or service specifics. 

Below is the template used for building your house.

A blank template for building a House of Quality (HOQ)

Let’s briefly run through each room, the attic, and the basement to see how you can build this HOQ.

  1. Customer needs: For each critical customer segment, capture customer feedback and VOC input consisting of your customer’s needs and the priority or weight of each need.
  2. Customer critical requirements: The top row of the house contains the critical customer requirements (CCRs), also referred to as critical to customer (CTC).
  3. Interrelationship matrix: Evaluate the relationship between your customer needs and CCRs. Determine the relative importance of each CCR.
  4. Customer rating of your competitors: How does your customer perceive the marketplace and your competition’s ability to meet each of their requirements?
  5. Correlation matrix: Compare CCRs to determine if they are in conflict with each other, leveraging each other, or have no effect on each other.
  6. Performance targets: Determine the necessary performance targets (specs) for each CCR.

Below is an example for developing a new loan product for a bank. Note that the two design areas most important to the customer are reducing customer complaints (121) and minimizing errors in the application (78). It also seems that Bank 3 does a better job at meeting the requirements of the customer, and you should probably benchmark against them.

An example HOQ diagram with information for a new banking product

3 benefits of HOQ 

Although it can be a bit of a pain to develop and build your HOQ, the benefits of having all of the elements in one easy-to-read diagram far outweigh the work and effort required to develop it. 

1. Organize your efforts to satisfy your customers

The HOQ document is structured and the elements are linked. You can’t complete the house without building out each room. 

2. Focus your development  

Your focus is on customer needs and how to meet them using specific and quantifiable targets and metrics. 

3. Understand your customer needs and document their requirements 

The HOQ forces you to drive everything for the purpose of meeting your customer’s needs. By documenting and defining these needs, you will have a written and documented baseline to work towards developing the best design you can. 

Why is HOQ important to understand? 

While the diagram is simple in design, it’s important that you understand the correlation and interrelationships between the rooms.  

Powerful tool

The power of HOQ is in the collaboration of team members, input of the customer, and the deep understanding of how to convert the customer whats to the design hows. 

Correlation 

There are two rooms that require you to understand and correlate relationships between them. You will need to understand what and how to do that and the relevancy of the importance ratings. 

Delivering on the requirements 

It’s one thing to design a process or product to meet your customer’s needs. It’s another to have the ability to produce that product or deliver that service. It will be important to coordinate with the rest of the organization to be sure that they understand how they can make your design tangible. 

An industry example of HOQ 

A large hospital chain decided to create a chain of freestanding clinics for general medical practices to alleviate some of the pressure on their emergency rooms. The CEO, who had some Six Sigma training, decided to use QFD to design the clinic and patient experience. 

They followed the steps and built a HOQ. This required gathering patient feedback, determining processes, assessing the physical attributes of the clinic, correlating them, and setting targets. They also gathered competitive information about other clinics, both privately run and hospital-based. 

In the end, they developed an optimal design that would satisfy their patient requirements and, at the same time, be feasible enough to actually build and manage the physical clinics.

3 best practices when thinking about HOQ 

As I alluded to at the beginning of this article, the HOQ is often referred to as the HOP, or House of Pain. By following some best practices, you may be able to reduce that pain. 

1. Direct and well-defined customer requirements 

Don’t assume that you know what your customer wants or needs. Get that information directly from them, and be sure everyone is in agreement as to what they mean and how they will be measured. 

2. Think quantitative, not just qualitative 

The more things you can measure — and are supported by data — the less you leave to emotion and subjectivity. 

3. Think outside the box, but be realistic 

You may not be able to always design and deliver the world’s next best thing. Keep in mind the capabilities of your organization to actually deliver what you are designing. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about HOQ

1. What is House of Quality? 

The House of Quality (HOQ) is a product and process planning matrix diagram that’s used to show how customer requirements relate directly to how an organization can achieve those requirements. 

2. What is the difference between HOQ and QFD? 

HOQ is part of a larger process called Quality Function Deployment, or QFD. QFD is the process of deploying the design requirements from the HOQ to the functional areas of the organization for execution.  

3. What are some of the advantages of using HOQ? 

Here are a few advantages for using HOQ:

  • Can reduce the time required for the design process
  • Primary focus is on customer needs and requirements
  • Can reduce design changes and revisions
  • Can reduce time to market for your product or service
  • Allows you to prioritize your design parameters

Let’s do a final tour of your House of Quality 

The HOQ combines the various elements of a design process all in one easy-to-understand diagram. It starts with the customer and their requirements and ends with specific design solutions intended to meet those requirements. 

Along the way, you identify targets and priorities and correlate design elements and requirements even to the point of benchmarking against your competitors.

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