A Quality Advisor Book Review by Richard E. Biehl.
Copyright 1992, Data-Oriented Quality Solutions. All rights reserved.

The New Steps for Planning Quality into Goods and Services
by J. M. Juran, Free Press, 1992
Juran on Quality by Design offers the latest look into the thinking by members of the Juran Institute on the means to deliver quality products and services through a customer focused planning process.

This latest Juran book is actually a replacement and expansion of one of its predecessors, Juran on Planning for Quality (Free Press, 1988). The similarities between the two books is significant enough that this new book should have been promoted as the second edition of the first. The new title is much better aligned with the intent of the discussion contained, since the earlier title made the line management audience less obvious than required for the use of the procedures contained throughout the volume. At $35.00, though, one should beware of buying the former volume while still available through booksellers.

In Planning for Quality, Juran laid out a ten-step road map for the planning of new products to meet the explicit and known needs of the customer. Using a chapter-by-chapter approach that followed the road map step-by-step, Juran explained the overall process of designing quality into the product in a fashion that makes the work useful to both line staff chartered with implementing the processes and senior management who must provide the commitment and leadership that make it all work. As each step progressed, Juran built a spreadsheet that captured the necessary process and product data needed to provide traceability from customer needs through process controls and product quality control tests.

In Quality by Design, Juran has kept to the style and organization of the former work, but the process itself has matured during the four year gap. The revised process includes only six sequential steps: establish quality goals, identify those impacted (the customers), determine customers' needs, develop product features, develop process features, and establish process controls (transfer to operations).

A seventh step, apply measurement, now appears throughout the process and affects all six of the sequential steps. In Planning for Quality, measurement was the fifth of the ten sequential steps. Ongoing measurement is an important part of the maturation that Quality by Design has gone through.

Juran's spreadsheet has also matured from one very complicated spreadsheet, that actually became quite unmanageable, to a collection of four simpler spreadsheets that each coordinate a different view of the data collected, making the planning results easier to tie back to the process. The spreadsheets constitute the raw data output of the process. Juran describes the four spreadsheets as "the interlocking input-output chain, in which the output for any step becomes the input for the next step."

The first planning spreadsheet list customers down the rows, and customer needs across the columns. The second transfers those needs to the rows and adds product features as columns. The third moves product features to the rows and adds process features as columns. The fourth spreadsheet adds process control features as columns providing full traceability from the process controls implemented back to the original customers that drove the quality planning cycle. Those comfortable with matrices will recognize that these four spreadsheets represent a five dimensional structure of information about the customer and processes. In Planning for Quality, Juran had implemented these five dimensions in a single two dimensional spreadsheet and the result was unmanageable, making Quality by Design a significant improvement.

In addition to revising the earlier work, Quality by Design expands on many issues raised earlier with an additional 200 pages of discussions that affect the implementation of the planning process throughout the organization, and several major case studies that highlight the application of the process.

The chapter on "Strategic Quality Planning" offers insights on the application of the planning process to senior management and the creation of a quality culture within the organization. The chapters on "Departmental Quality Planning" and "Multifunctional Quality Planning" highlight the use of the process within the organization for inter-departmental or intra- departmental quality action. These closing chapters offer guidance on the application of Juran's planning process, making Quality by Design less theoretical sounding than its predecessor, Planning for Quality.

Information Technology quality assurance professionals should read Quality by Design. Even those individuals who read Planning for Quality will find enough incremental value to justify the overlap. The question remains: How can the process described be applied within the IT function?

To start, the planning spreadsheets can be used to map out the requirements for any methodology and standards already in place within the department. To the extent that quality control is often difficult to sell within the development methodology, the spreadsheets help illustrate how the process controls inherent in the IT process support the requirements of IT customers. Likewise, the spreadsheets will point out any existing omissions in current IT practices that may result in dissatisfied customers. This self-assessment and diagnostic use of Juran's work can be done with relatively little effort and at low cost.

Second, and requiring more resource and commitment, Juran's process can be rolled into the current IT requirements definition process to improve the level of requirements being defined by IT projects. The deliverables may have to be mapped against Juran's spreadsheets, but the result will be an increased project focus on, not just data and processes, but also the controls that need to be built into the IT system to assure that the application can be validated and monitored over the long-term. The result will be the implementation not just of new application processes, but of processes that embed the concept of continuous improvement through control of the key variables directly traceable back to customer satisfaction. That's what Juran on Quality by Design is all about!