How to Create CTQ (Critical To Quality) Trees

Business growth relies heavily on how a business meets the needs of their customers. To provide the highest quality products and services, it is essential to identify what specific customer needs should be satisfied and what attributes are important to them.

CTQ trees play a critical role in the development of such products and services.

What is a CTQ Tree?

A critical-to-quality (CTQ) tree is a diagram that sets parameters to clearly define attributes critical to the quality of products and services. It is a drill-down tool that effectively converts customer needs to measurable and actionable product or service characteristics.

A CTQ tree can also be used in project management when trying to resolve problems within the workflow or enhancing organizational design. It is also helpful in establishing linkage between a project and business goals.

When to Use CTQ Trees

CTQ trees help you determine what your customers need and distinguish their requirements for that specific need. These are quite helpful when you are:

  • Developing a new or better product
  • Launching a new product or service
  • Planning a new project
  • Trying to understand customer needs
  • Striving to make a product or service more competitive
  • Identifying and resolving issues with current products or services
  • Formulating ways to improve business workflow
  • Processing candid feedback from customers

How to Create CTQ Trees

Creating a CTQ tree involves only three basic steps. These are designed to guide the team in unraveling customer feedback. They can then process the resulting information into specific actions that can lead to efficient improvement in business processes.

These are the three steps in creating CTQ trees:

1. Identify Critical Needs

Before you identify critical needs, make sure to identify who your target customers are. Narrowing them down can make your CTQ tree more effective.

After identifying your customers, determine their needs. What are they looking for in a product or service? What is critical factors will ensure their satisfaction? To find the answers, you must solicit the voice of the customer (VOC).

Getting the VOC is a critical founding stone of CTQs. You can do this through surveys, focus groups, and social media forums. It is imperative that you collect VOC from all segments of your target market.

If getting feedback directly from your customers is not possible, brainstorm with those who deal with customers directly. These may be your salespeople, wait staff, or customer service representatives who better understand customer needs based on their interactions with them.

2. Identify Quality Drivers

Identify the specific quality drivers that must be in place to meet the need you identified in the previous step. These drivers are significant factors that must be present for customers to consider your product or service to be of high quality.

Since VOCs are quite broad in nature, they need careful insight to be converted into actionable requirements. Going through the VOCs can help set parameters to satisfy customer needs.

For instance, if the VOC is feedback about how it takes too long to get a complaint resolved, a quality driver could be pegged as “Quicker Resolution”. This indicates that a customer requires speedy resolution of complaints.

3. Identify Performance Requirements

The last step in creating CTQs is identifying the minimum performance requirement that must be satisfied for each quality driver to provide quality products. Drill down the collected data from identifying customer requirements into measurable, actionable requirements.

Targets for each CTQ tree must be set and used as guidelines to validate product or service performance against the requirements of customers.

Once the CTQ tree is completed, you end up with a list of requirements that you must meet to deliver a high-quality product or service.

Example of a CTQ Tree for a Product

To better understand how to create a CTQ tree, let’s consider a hypothetical company in the café industry. The café wants to increase customer retention and conducted a survey to determine what customers look for in a coffee shop.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how they can create a CTQ tree for a specific need:

Step 1: Identify the need.

After conducting a customer survey, they found out that customers were looking for great coffee when they entered the café. We identify “Great Coffee” as the need that has to be met.

Step 2: Identify Quality Drivers.

We then consider specific attributes that make coffee great. These attributes can include taste, temperature, and cost.

Step 3: Identify Performance Requirements.

After identifying the quality drivers, we list specific and measurable actions that can fulfill the requirements of the drivers.

Example of a CTQ Tree for a Service

Here’s another example of a CTQ tree for a different need. The same café in the previous example identified another need of their customers: “Good Customer Service.”

Step 1: Identify the need.

In the same customer survey, customers indicated that good customer service is an important factor for them when choosing a café.

Step 2: Identify Quality Drivers.

To provide good customer service, pleasant staff and quick service are required. We list these as the quality drivers.

Step 3: Identify Performance Requirements.

Now, we translate these drivers into the following specific measurable actions.

Example of a CTQ Tree for Project Management

CTQ trees do more than enable businesses to meet customer needs with better products and services. They can also identify defects in a business process or determine ways to improve a process workflow. They can be used to increase employee engagement and work motivation.

One of the business processes in the café is the pay system for employees. Here’s what a CTQ tree for this process might look like.

Step 1: Identify the need.

In this case, the “customers” are the employees of the café. They work for a living and thus require payment for their services. Their need, in this case, is a paycheck.

Step 2: Identify the quality drivers.

To meet the requirements of the employees with regard to their paycheck, it must be accurate, on time, and automated. These are the quality drivers for this need.

Step 3: Identify performance requirements.

To ensure the accuracy of pay, software can be used to manage and process pay slips. This also ensures equal pay for women. The café can also set a standard of not having less than 90% accuracy in pay computations.

Setting a payday schedule and ensuring that all paychecks are processed well within two days before the set schedule can ensure that employees receive their paycheck on time.

Lastly, a more efficient pay system can be set in place that enables the automatic transfer of pay to individual employee bank accounts.

CTQ Trees: From Broad and Abstract to Specific and Actionable

CTQ trees take the voice of your customers and translate it into what your business has to do in order to satisfy those needs. Effectively utilizing this information enables you to craft actionable solutions to deliver excellent services and products.

When used on business workflows, CTQs can also improve employee productivity and lead to more effective team collaboration.

However, going through the process of creating CTQs is futile if the results are not translated into action. To boost business growth, take concrete measures to follow the clear path that has been set forth by your CTQs.