What Is a House of Quality?

Malcolm Tatum

The house of quality is a type of diagram or planning matrix that helps to illustrate the relationship that exists between that a customer wants and the ability of a given good or service to fulfill those wants. The fanciful name for the diagram comes from the appearance of the finished diagram, which resembles a frontal view of a simple A-frame two story house, complete with a peaked roof. The different components of the house of quality look closely at a breakdown of those customer wants, along with the mechanisms that a supplier has to meet those wants, and even a section that addresses the ability of one or more competitors to step into the process and meet those wants in comparison to the capabilities of that supplier.

Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

Arranging the house of quality can vary slightly, although the same basic components are used in just about every situation. Within the configuration, both positive and negative aspects related to what the customer wants and how the supplier can meets those wants in comparison to competitors will be taken into consideration. Essentially, the building blocks of the house ask the questions of how and why for each of these considerations, arranging the data in an organized pattern that makes it relatively easy to determine what can and cannot be done to satisfy customer demands, and if the suppler has a better chance of coming close to meeting those demands than the competition.

One of the benefits of the house of quality is that businesses can use this type of diagram to assess where the company is today in terms of meeting customer wants and needs. By identifying both strengths and weaknesses during the creation of the matrix, it is often possible to also begin brainstorming ideas on how to address those weaknesses without undermining any of the strengths already identified. From this perspective, it is possible to use the house of quality diagram as a springboard for making the supplier’s house more solid and more attractive to its targeted consumer market or markets.

Depending on the situation, the house of quality may also inspire action that involves creating strategic partnerships with other companies in order to be able to meet customer wants. For example, a conference call bureau may determine that a significant number of its customers would be open to purchasing fax broadcasting services through the company, assuming the pricing for the service was competitive. Rather than investing in establishing its own fax broadcast network, the bureau may contract with a reliable fax broadcast company to supply the service, private branding the service under the name of the bureau. To the customer, this approach appears to be added incentive to do business with the conference call bureau, resulting in the bureau’s house becoming a little stronger.

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