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Module 1: Customer Needs

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Product Specifications

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Product Specifications

So, we will continue the discussion on customer need analysis. In the last class we discussed how
we identify the customer needs, what are the methods by which we can identify the customer
needs, and how do we convert the raw data from the customer to interpret that needs. And once
you have a large number of customer needs, we need to do a little bit of analysis of these needs
in order to make sure that we get the top needs identified from the analysis.
(Refer Slide Time: 0:43)
So, one of the methods we discussed for the need analysis was the affinity diagram method. So,
in this method, what we do is to write down all those interpreted needs from the various
customers. When you convert those raw data into interpreted needs, we will write down all those
needs in this kind of post-it bed s
So, whatever you get from each customer will be converted to a post-it bed and then as a team,
you will start sorting out these needs based on the affinity of each need towards a particular
requirement. For example, you see something like easy to carry, similarly lightweight, compact,
so all this actually represents the same kind of requirement from the customer.
So we try to put all those things together and then find out what is the actual need given by these
interpreted needs. Same way you try to take the next post-it beds and try to find out what actually
there is in that, what is the interpreted need in that one. So right for example, you take constant
temperature, you something have constant temperature distribution, and then you see something
on less power consumption.
So since they are not the same kind of thing that we are getting, we try to make it a separate one.
So this way you try to arrange all those post-it beds depending on the category, and then get all
those categories that you can identify. So, for example here, constant temperature distribution,
heats quickly and then temperature switch. These are all talking about a requirement of the
customer, but it says that good heating and temperature control is needed for the product.
Similarly, less power consumption, electronic stability, this also talks about a requirement of low
power consumption. And like this, you will be having a lot of other needs. So all those needs can
actually be categorized, you can actually make another set of another group here and you can
identify the need, the actual need that can be consolidated from the interpreted needs. So this
way even if you have a large number of interpreted needs identified by the design team, you will
be able to bring it down to a small number of actual needs of the customer.
So, probably you will be getting maybe 10 or 15 actual needs from the customers. So this is the
requirement of customer need analysis from where you start with the raw data from the
customer, and then this raw data will be converted to an interpreted need and then this interpreter
needs will be sorted out and categorized and find out what is the consolidated needs that you can
get.
And when you do this, you will also try to find out what is the importance of these needs also. So
which need is the most important one? So this is again a decision to be taken by the design team,
based on the information they collected from the customer, you try to find out what is the
importance of these needs also. So, this way you will be able to say okay in this case probably
good heating and temperature control is the most important one and then compact and
lightweight maybe the second one, then third one like that you will be able to get the important
ones also.
So at the end of this analysis, what you are going to get is a consolidated list of needs along with
their importance. So this is what is needed in the customer need analysis. So this is the first stage
in the understanding, the opportunity where you start with the mission statement, then looking
for the need for a product, you identify the need that is to be satisfied in the final product if you
are going to make it.
So that is the customer need analysis where you get a list of customer needs with the importance
of each need.
(Refer Slide Time: 4:39)
So these are some examples for interpreted needs or the final consolidated needs, for example, if
you take this product of the nail clipper, you can actually do a lot of customer surveys like this
like method or interviews or whatever the method, and finally find out the all the interpreted
needs and then consolidate them based on using the affinity diagram method.
And you will be able to get this kind of needs that it should be inexpensive, it should be compact
storage, lightweight, easy to open, hold filled dust, easy to close file, easy align clipper, nails fall
predictably, easy to clean, act as key chain, striking appearance, curved blade shape, sharp blade,
stores cut nails, blade sharpening, etc. So you can see, there are multiple needs that you will be
able to see from the customer.
It is not necessary that you need to satisfy all the customer needs. Again, depends on the mission
of your design project, as well as what is practically feasible by making a compromise on various
aspects.
(Refer Slide Time: 5:49)
So, for example, you take another case here. So here you can see that this one company is trying
to make a suspension fork for this cycle. So this company is a major manufacturer of bicycles
and bicycle equipment based in California. Just for example, we have taken this case study. Now
this company is trying to make a suspension fork for the cycle. So it is a underage cycle, it is a
mountain bicycle, and mountain basically, they want to have a kind of a suspension fork which is
not commonly available in other cycles.
So, this company is interested in making a new bicycle with a suspension fork. And they want to
know what are the needs that need to be satisfied if they make the product. So some of them are
very obvious, but some of them we need to get from the customer because customers know them
better. And therefore, we need to make sure that the customers understand the product and then
they can tell you what actually their expectations are from this particular product.
So now if you look at this, some of them can be easily understood. So can you suggest or tell me
some of the needs that you can identify? Anyone? So again, see that one of the most important
aspects if you talk about a suspension, is that it should reduce the vibrations, one of the most
important aspects of any suspension system is that the vibration should be reduced.
So somebody is holding the, someone is holding the handle and riding the cycle, you should not
get a lot of vibration on his hand, that is one of the basic requirements and of course that should
not get transmitted to the seat and then the person should not feel uncomfortable in riding the
cycle. So the company can actually decide to have one model or multiple models depending on
the requirement.
But they need to know if they want to, they are going to produce it, what will be the requirement.
Now, if they do a study, customer need analysis, they can actually go through the process of
identifying the customer needs, either using a like dislike method or any other method they
actually find suitable for this particular customer group.
(Refer Slide Time: 8:28)
So, you can see, these are some of the different types of suspension fork that is available in the
market, and then this company wants to have a new design for it.
(Refer Slide Time: 8:41)
So now if you go through all this analysis and go through it like dislike method and then interpret
and identify all the interpreted needs and then based on the interpreted needs you can actually go
for a classification of this needs using affinity diagram and at the end of this, you will be able to
get a list of customer needs and then you can actually find out the importance of each need also.
So in this case, the needs that can be identified would reduce hand vibration, so that is one of the
important needs that you can think of and similarly, allows easy traversal of slow, difficult
terrain. So it is a mountain bike and whenever using it for travel in the mountain area there will
be a lot of difficult terrain. And so the customer or the person who is riding the bicycle, he wants
to have a very easy traversal of terrain.
So there should not be too much bumpy travel because of the suspension also. And then it
enables high speed descents on bumpy roads. So you should be able to get high speed descents
on the bumpy roads, then preserve the steering characteristics of the bike. So this is one of the
important one. So when you are adding something new to the fork, that should not affect the
steering characteristics of the bike.
This is again coming from the customer, customer is interested to have the same kind of steering
characteristics without getting affected because of the new suspension and of course, it should be
lightweight, Nobody wants to add more weight to the system and it should be easier to install,
because the customer may want to change it too, for a normal ride on the city or town rides, they
do not want to have this suspension system and whenever they go for a mountain ride they would
like to add also.
So, that is one requirement for the customer, it should be easy to install and allows easy
replacement of worn out parts. So if there are any worn out parts in the system in the fork, it
should be easy to replace. Then, of course, easy maintenance with readily available tools, safe in
crash, important from the safety point of view, it would be safe in a crash and it lasts a long time.
So the life of the product should be very high and fits a wide variety of bikes.
So there might be different kinds of bikes, so you need to make this fit to different kinds of bikes
so that you can have one suspension fork which can actually fit into different bicycles. And of
course, it provides a stiff mounting point for the brakes, just the brakes should be attached to the
fork. And when you have this suspension fork, the normal fork replaced with the suspension
fork, we still should be able to have stiff mounting points for the brake.
So these are the important customer requirements you can identify using the customer need
analysis. The whole purpose of doing the process of customer need analysis is to get this list of
needs. So the number of needs depends on the product. And finally, you need to get the
important rating also. So which one is most important for this and which one is the least
important, so the least important can be the team can actually decide not to have those least
important needs satisfied in the product or if possible, they can actually have all the needs
satisfied also.
And that is why we need to have the important ratings also. Now, if you get this important rating,
again, it comes from the customers and the design teams on evaluation also. So you will be able
to get this importance as the numbers like five, four, one, two, three, etc. sorry yeah. So you can
see this one, two, three, four, five action shows the ranking of this requirement. So it says that
easy to install and easy replacement is one of the most important one identified by the users
because they want to easily replace it, again depending on various factors.
And these numbers come from the design team as well as from the customers. So we can see
reduced hand vibration is the third one, but number two allows easy traversal of difficult terrain.
And similarly, we can see these are all five safe in crashes, lasts a long time, fits a wide variety
of bikes, provides stiff mounting points for the brakes like this, so not necessarily that each one
should have a totally different ranking.
So you can have equal rankings and also can be given and the design team can actually take a
call which one should be addressed first and which one can actually be made as an optional one
in the descent. So at the end of all these exercises, you need to have a customer need with the
relative importance that is the final outcome of this exercise.
(Refer Slide Time: 13:40)
So you will be getting this as the need statement so you can actually write the need statement the
suspension reduces the vibration to the hands, suspension allows easy traversal of slow, difficult
terrain. It enables high speed descent on bumpy trails. So that is the way how you actually write
down the need statement. So the need statement will be written, the design document saying that,
okay, this is the one which has to be satisfied in the product. And of course, the important
writings also here there are twenty needs identified, I showed only the small number in the
previous slide.
But these are the total number of needs that can be identified from this kind of exercise. So that
is all about the need identification in customer need identification in product design.
(Refer Slide Time: 14:30)
So to summarize the discussion we had in the last few classes, we found that the customer needs
modeling is required to understand what the customers feel they want from the product. So this is
the most important one because we need to know what the customers are asking for in this
product.
If there is anything the customer is asking for, it is a city for the designer to look into that and
then see if they can provide it. And then we found that interview methods are effective to
establish a list of customer needs. So the dislike method is one of the interview methods we
discussed. So that is one of the most effective methods of need identification and activity
diagrams are effective to represent the customer environment where a product is used.
So that actually will tell you the latent needs also. So we identify different types of needs like
direct needs, latent needs, Nish needs etc., and we need to look at all those needs whether it is, if
that is applicable to a product, whether the Nish needs is applicable to that particular product,
you need to identify those needs also. And at the end of this, we are actually getting the needs list
with its importance.
So that actually completes the first stage in the product development, which we call it as
understanding the opportunity. So, as I mentioned, there are three stages in product development.
First one is to understand opportunity and then it is to develop a concept. Understanding the
opportunity is basically going through all the stages of what we discussed and making sure that
there is a good opportunity to design a product.
And we understand what the product should do in order to meet the customer's satisfaction. So
finally, we need to satisfy the customer or delight the customer. And what is to be done to make
the customer delighted can be obtained from the need for identification. So we need to ensure
that we understand all those aspects and that actually completes the understanding of the
opportunity stage of product descent.
The next stage is basically, once you understand all the customer requirements, how do we make
sure that we can satisfy this customer or what we need to do to make sure that the customer is
satisfied with the product. So that is the next stage where we try to develop a concept for
satisfying the customer needs or we try to develop the product concepts or the product ideas to
satisfy the customer requirements because there are multiple requirement from the customer and
we need to look at each requirement and then see what can actually make the customers happy
with that particular requirement of the customer.
So, if a customer has a requirement, for example, he will say it is easy to use. So as a designer,
you need to check what will make the customer feel happy to use the product or whenever when
the customer will feel easy to use the product and what should be the features in the product to
make it easy to use. So this is the stage where actually we need to go into the concepts of the
product and that is known as the develop a concept stage.
So we will be moving to this stage now, the second stage, the first stage is completed with the
needs list, with the relative importance of the needs, and then we go to the develop a concept
stage.
(Refer Slide Time: 17:57)
So we found that we have this in the previous last few classes, we found the mission statement,
business case and clarification and then through the customer need analysis, we get the customer
needs list. The biggest question as I mentioned, is how to ensure that the products meet the
customer expectations?
So what is that to be done to make sure that the customer's satisfaction or customer expectations
are met in the product. So this is the challenge for the designer and then to see how we actually
convert these customer needs into product specification or product features. So that is the
requirement now.
And this is addressed through something called product specifications. So we need to convert the
customer needs into some design goals, and that is known as the product specification. So we
will look into that and see how the customer needs can be converted to the product features or
the features in their product, which will make the customers happy to use the product. So let us
see how to do this.
(Refer Slide Time: 19:09)
So let me take this example of the cycle which we discussed in one of the classes also. So you
know, we already discussed this in the class on how to modify the existing cycle. We have to put
a lot of effort in riding the cycle. But now we can see that a new design like this has got a
particular new feature where the efforts needed to ride the cycle has produced.
So moving forward from the conventional pedal chain and sprockets move to a reciprocating
kind of a motion which can be converted to a rotary motion and therefore you will be able to
make a totally new cycle design. So, this is the way people should think about new designs, so
you have an identified problem with an existing bicycle and want to move to a new cycle design.
So suppose you want to make this kind of a cycle or want to make any product like this, you
have an idea that yes this has to be modified.
Now you need to see if you modify the product and come up with a needed product, what
features need to be provided so that the customers will be happy with that. So that is where
actually the creativity of the designer comes and then he sees or he develops a need concept in
order to meet the requirements or design requirement. And to know this we need to know, what
is the requirement to be met in the product and how that requirement can be converted into a
feature in the product.
So let us look at this and see how we can convert the customer requirements into the design
features in a product.
(Refer Slide Time: 20:57)
And this is basically done using something called product specification. So, for example, I mean,
in this case, if you see the requirement of a customer, customer's requirements are always very
subjective. Your customer will say it would be lightweight, customers would say it would be
easy to use or the customer will say it is easy to assemble.
So these are all highly subjective because easy, when you say easy to carry, what do you mean
by easy to carry? Is it because of the weight? Is it because of the size? Or is it because of
something else? What is actually the customer is asking for or how we can actually convert this
subjective requirement of a customer to a very objective design specification, that is we need to
have something to be measured and say that, yes, if I make the weight less than a particular value
it would be easy to use.
So how can I say that this objective or how can I make this subjective requirement of a customer
to very objective design features or the product features is known as the product specification
development. So what we are trying to do is to convert the relatively subjective customer needs
into precise targets for the product development efforts. As I mentioned, when a customer says
easy to use, what the designers should do with that when the customer is telling it should be easy
to use, he has no nothing to say that, how can I make sure that it is easy to use.
So it is necessary for the designer to see what objective values can be used to measure the
easiness of use, and then how can you improve those objective measures and make sure that if
you meet those objective measures, it will be easy to use. So this process is known as developing
the product specifications.
So the fundamental objective is to convert the subjective customer requirements to objective
measurable design features or the design specifications, which can be used to measure the
satisfaction of the customer or to see how much that meets the customer requirements. And this
is what we are going to discuss in the next few classes. And you can refer to this book, Ulrich
and Eppinger, for more details on product specifications.
Of course, other books also will give you the details, but most of the slides I have presented here
are taken from this book Ulrich and Eppinger. Now to do this, to convert the subjective needs to
objective values, what we are trying to do is to establish a set of specifications which spell out in
precise, measurable detail what the product has to do. So we are saying that if you have a
requirement of easy to use in the specification, we will clearly tell what the product should do to
make it easier to use in measurable quantities.
We will say that, okay, if this is the case of, for example, in the case of a mobile phone,
somebody says it should be easy to use, how can you say that it is easy to use? One, maybe,
okay, how long it takes to switch on or when it is in sleep mode and how much time it takes to
come to on mode. And then how many keystrokes do you need to press to make a call? Or how
many keystrokes you need to make to move from a phone mode to a video display mode?
So this kind of objective measure, if you can tell and then you can say, okay, probably if you
make the number of keystrokes less than three, then it is easy to use or if the time taken to switch
on is less than a particular value second, then it is easy to use. So this is the way we convert the
subjective requirements of the customer into measurable detail saying what the product has to
do, so how many strokes it can take, how many keystrokes the phone should take in order to get
that particular feature on.
So that is the way we convert the subjective needs of customers to objective requirements. And
that is known as the specification development design specification or the product specification
development. Now, look at this situation so there was a customer requirement which says that it
is easy to assemble. Easy to assemble is a customer requirement. Now a designer is trying to
convert this into some objective measurable values and say that, okay, if I do make this so then it
should be easy to assemble.
So can you tell me if I have an easy to assemble as a requirement or a customer requirement,
what should be the way I can actually measure this easy to assemble? Can you tell me something
which can quantitatively tell if I modified this, it can actually be easy to assemble? So, for
example, if we have something as easy to assemble, I can say that one may be time to assemble
is something which likely I can say.
Time to assemble, if I can reduce the time to assemble, then we will know that it can be a
measurable quantity which can measure the easy to assemble assembly requirement. So if I can
reduce the time to assemble, then it will become, if I can reduce time to assemble, it will be easy
to assemble. Similarly, I can say the number of tools needed for assembly, number of tools
needed for assembly, if I can have a number of tools less than also, it may be easy to assemble.
So this way there is a way for me to convert the objective needs of the customer, sorry subjective
needs of the customer to objective values, and this is known as the specification, so the product
specification has got two important parameters. One, we call it a metric and then the other one is
known as a value. So a metric and a value from the specification. For example, if I say time to
assemble, that is the metric to be used to measure the easy to assemble requirement and how
much is the time is the value.
So if I have this time and its value, then I know that if I make the time to assemble less than five
seconds, then it is easy to assemble. So this is the way how we convert the subjective need to
objective value. So we have something called a metric and a value and this metric and value
forms the specification. So the specification for a new product or a quantitative measurable
criteria, the product should be designed to satisfy.
So you have a quantitative measurable criteria that the product should be designed to satisfy.
And as I told you, there is a metric and a value to be used in order to get the specification. So
easy to assemble, I can take the time to assemble and the number of tools, maybe the two metrics
that I can use in order to quantify the easy to use, easy to assemble requirement, and using this
metric and value will be able to get the target specification for the product that is, I can say my
design goal is to make the time to assemble less than or equal to sorry less than or equal to ten,
that is my target.
And similarly, the number of tools I can say is less than or equal to 3. So this is the way I can say
that the target, so that is the target specification. Now, after considering all the requirements of
the customer, we can say some of them may not be possible, some of them you may have to
make some compromise. Then finally, you will get the final specifications.
So in the coming lectures we will try to see how to develop the target specification for the
product and see how this customer requirement, the subjective customer requirement can be
converted to quantitative measurable criteria. So that is known as the target specification and we
can actually do this by four steps. I will explain this in the next class in more detail.
So, the first thing to do is to prepare the list of metrics by looking at the customer requirement,
we try to find out what are the metric that can be used in order to get the convert all the customer
requirement into metrics and then collect the competitive benchmarking information because
once you have the metrics you need to get the value and this value can be obtained by using
something called a competitive benchmarking information that is look at the existing products
and existing features of the products and then see whether you can use some of the values.
And then once you have this information you can go for ideal and marginally acceptable target
values, so the ideal value and the acceptable target values and finally reflect on the results and
then see how this information can be used to get the final specification of the product. So that is
the way how you convert the subjective customer needs to objective measurable quantities that
can actually be provided in the product in order to meet the customer satisfaction. So I will stop
here, I will continue the remaining discussion of product specification in the next class. Thank
you.