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  • Writer's pictureJ Ross

What is Critical to Quality (CTQ), and How do CTQ Trees Work?

In today’s competitive market, it’s not enough to make a product that just works; customers want a product or service that closely matches their needs and wants. Successful businesses often put significant time and effort into identifying the customer needs that genuinely matter and transforming them into measurable product and process requirements using CTQ.

Critical to Quality (CTQ) is simply a measure of the quality of a product in the eyes of your customer. It includes all the essential attributes that customers identify in a product (or service) that makes it appealing to them.

This article presents valuable information about CTQ and CTQ trees. It will serve as a guide to help you implement CTQ trees during your new product introduction process.


Table of Contents:


Critical to Quality Trees: This is How they Work

A CTQ tree is a methodology (or tool) that helps you translate your customer needs into measurable performance requirements. It is made up of three component areas:

  1. Needs: describe the motive (or thing) that prompts your customers to buy your product or service.

  2. Drivers: describe the characteristics or features that your customers will consider when judging your product or service quality.

  3. Requirements: describe the process (or product) standards needed to make these drivers meet customer needs.

To help better understand the concept of critical to quality trees, let’s consider a scenario where you’re looking to design, manufacture, and launch a smartphone device to the market. Your customer’s need, in this case, would simply be a high-quality smartphone device.

As you already know, the smartphone market is flooded with tons of smartphone devices having different features and capabilities. Finding the right drivers and requirements will make your smartphone product stand out from that of your competitors. For instance, some of the drivers for the smartphone device market today include:

  • Durable and scratch-resistant screen

  • Long battery life

  • High-quality camera

  • 5G mobile network

The typical requirements (or CTQs) for each of these drivers are shown in Figure 1.

Fig 1. CTQ tree for a simple smartphone device.

Let’s dig deep into the process of creating CTQ trees for your product or service.

How to Create a Critical to Quality Tree in 3 Essential Steps

1. Identify the Critical Needs

The first step to take when creating a CTQ tree is to identify your customer’s critical needs. It’s crucial that you don’t base the critical needs on your beliefs. Instead, you want to take the voice of your customers into account during this stage.

Successful businesses gather the voice of the customers and identify critical needs by:

  • Taking surveys

  • Communicating with customers directly

  • Consulting data analysis institutions to obtain customer behavior data

  • Checking customer reviews

To help better illustrate the concept of correctly identifying critical needs, we’ll be considering the example of a company looking to deliver cookies. Surveys and customer behavior data might reveal that most customers want warm, homemade cookies without having to leave their house.

2. Identify Quality Drivers

The next step to take when creating a CTQ tree is to identify the quality drivers (or features) that you must put in place to meet the critical needs we mentioned in step #1. Successful businesses typically use tools like KANO Analysis to identify features that their customers will consider when determining whether a product (or service) meets their needs.

For example, the quality drivers for the cookie delivery service would include:

  • A mobile app to allow your customers to place orders

  • Fast cookie delivery

  • Delicious cookies

3. Identify Performance Requirements

The final phase is where you identify the performance requirements that you must satisfy for each quality driver.

For example, the mobile app you’re looking to create (from step #2) must be viewable on all devices, including iOS and Android phones. It must also include features that allow customers to view and track orders.

To satisfy the “fast cookie delivery” requirement, you might have to ensure that all cookies are delivered within 20 minutes of placing an order. Figure 2 shows the critical needs, quality drivers, and process requirements (or CTQ features) for the cookie delivery company.

Fig 2. CTQ tree for a cookie delivery service

Identifying CTQ Features for Your Product: Agile in Asia Can Help

While this article provides helpful information about identifying CTQ features and creating CTQ trees, there still exist tons of activities you need to carry out and factors you need to consider when bringing a new product to the market.

Successful businesses rely on third-party manufacturing solutions to reduce their risks and minimize costs when identifying the critical to quality features for their products.

Agile in Asia is a leading provider of manufacturing solutions across Asia. We have a team of highly qualified engineers and supply chain experts capable of getting the job done right the first time.

Learn more about our New Product Introduction services.

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