What is CTQ?

CTQ is a concept that is commonly used in Six Sigma. It is an acronym, which stands for ‘critical to quality.’ When it comes to manufacturing and other industries, understanding which aspects of a product are critical to its overall quality. This will help a company determine what features must be there, and which ones may actually be a form of waste. Anyone who is working on becoming Six Sigma certified, or already works in this type of role, will want to take time to understand CTQ and the related concepts.

CTQ Tree

Identifying which features or aspects of a product are CTQ it is important to look at it from a customer perspective. One easy thing to do is ask whether a customer is willing to pay for the feature in question. If they are, then it is likely critical to the quality of the product. Even if a customer likes a specific feature, but won’t pay extra for it, it won’t likely meet the requirements for CTQ. Putting each feature through a ‘CTQ Tree’ is an easy way to analyze the situation. The CTQ tree attempts to take the desires of a customer and make them meaningful, measurable, and actionable.  This can be done in several important steps:

  • Identify the Critical Needs of the Customer
  • Look at the Quality Drivers that Have to be in Place
  • Develop Performance Requirements to Meet the Demands of Customers
  • How Does Each Feature of a Product Fit

A lot of this data can be gathered by speaking with the customers themselves. In some cases this means reaching out to major customers to learn from them. In others, it will mean gathering feedback from a reasonable sample size of the customers. Either way, gathering this data is an important step. From that data, match up all the steps that go into making a product and see which ones can be eliminated or adjusted. In the end, only those features that are CTQ should remain in order to provide the customers with exactly what they need without spending time or money on unnecessary features.


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