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Lin Chih Cheng, Bruno Augusto Pfeilsticker, Flávio de Aguiar Araújo

An Application of QFD Method to Strengthen Product Development System of a Small Initiating Firm in Internet Mobile Technology

Track: C3

The market for internet mobile services in Brazil is recent, but growing rapidly, demanding constant monitoring and review of product development strategy and products offered by the telecommunication operators. This article aims to show how QFD method is applied to structure and improve product development system (PDS) of a small initiating firm which develops internet mobile services for these operators. By the fact of being an initiating firm, its PDS may be regarded as ill-structured and the process ill-defined.

At the diagnosis stage of the intervention process, five deficiencies were identified: (1) lack of a formal procedure for measuring the system performance; (2) lack of a structured means which correlates customer demands to factors; (3) difficulty in defining products requirements due to absence of a mechanism which captures the clients demands (telecommunication operators and final users); (4) lack of a formal mechanism for monitoring projects being developed; (5) lack of a clear definition of roles and responsibilities of functional areas of Marketing and Development.

Three consecutive actions were carried out through action research mode of engagement. The first action was carried out aiming at deficiency 2 and peripherally on 3. It consisted of developing a derivative service based on an existing platform. QD was used to evaluate if the platform would attend one specific telecommunication operator's demand. It helped in adapting the existing platform features to client's demands. The second action was carried out aiming to deal with deficiencies 2 and 5 and peripherally on 4. QD and narrowly-defined QFD were used since the beginning of this action. It consisted in developing a new platform, which would be offered as a derivative product, to several telecommunication operators. A conceptual model and a product development management procedure (PDMP) were developed. The conceptual model helped in structuring and correlating effects and causes. The PDMP procedure contributed greatly to the definition of responsibilities and tasks to be conducted in development process. This second action had more participation from the functional areas, and allowed a better exchange of information throughout the development process. Finally, the third action was carried out aiming to reduce the number of design changes due to absence of a mechanism which captures the clients demands (telecommunication operators and final users) and the need to generate derivatives, which is the deficiency 3.

Two main conclusions were obtained: 1- QFD method can also be important in structuring and improving product development system of small initiating firm but need special adaptation within this type of context; 2- there are many similarities by the way QFD method is applied for automobile development and software development.

Dr. Lin Chih Cheng is an Associate Professor at the Department of Production Engineering for more than 20 years. He holds a Bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering, two Master degrees, one in Production Engineering and the other in Systems in Management, and a Ph. D. in Systems in Management from Lancaster University in 1990. He has held administrative posts as Head of Department and Director of Graduate Program in Production Engineering. He was the founder and the first President of QFD & PDM Institute - Brazil (1999-2001). Currently, he is on sabbatical leave as Visiting Scholar at Maclean Hunter, Chair of Entrepreneurship, HEC, Montreal, Canada

Bruno Augusto Pfeilsticker and Flávio de Aguiar Araújo are both graduated in Mechanical Engineering and hold Master degree in Production Engineering, UFMG. They are currently engaged in research projects as research assistants at Centre of Quality Technology and Innovation of UFMG. They are also owners of a small starting firm, DM&P, which provides consulting services on Product Development to organisations.

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