Suppliers have a new and important role to play through quality function deployment (QFD), an increasingly used method of product development. QFD is based on teamwork and customer involvement from the conception stage of new product development through final delivery. The approach integrates marketing, design, engineering development, manufacturing, production, and purchasing efforts in a manner that helps manufacturers meet the new and pressing demands of the 1990s. These demands include developing and introducing successful new products in less time, at lower cost, and at higher quality than the competition.
The purpose of this article is to offer a prescriptive approach for involving potential suppliers in the product development process that focuses on their roles in the different phases of QFD. These roles were developed in part based on the authors' personal interviews and written correspondence with corporate managers of quality, engineering, and purchasing, along with one of the author's direct involvement in various new product development projects using QFD.