A CTQ is a Critical to Quality requirement: something that is important to the customer.

Understanding and delivering on customer CTQ’s provides a strong competitive advantage to the supplier, for a couple of reasons –

  • If the customer is external they are less likely to move away from the supplier.
  • If the customer is internal there will be less friction between customer and supplier during normal operations.
  • By understanding what is and is not important to the customer, the supplier can eliminate non-value-added steps and reduce cycle times and costs.

CTQ Examples for Internal Customers

  • An MRO (Maintenance and Repair Operations) team in a manufacturing plant is an internal customer to the plant purchasing team.  A CTQ for the MRO team is that off-the-shelf supplies (work gloves, safety goggles, paper towels, etc.) have a two day lead time.  This short lead time allows for minimal inventory levels, freeing up space for non-standard items, like motors and switches.
  • In the same plant, the purchasing team is a customer to the accounts payable team.   A CTQ for the purchasing team is that all suppliers are paid in 20 business days or less.  This CTQ allows the purchasing team to negotiate better pricing from its suppliers.

CTQ Examples for External Customers

  • A wireless customer does not want to be surprised by data overage charges and wants a text message when data usage reaches 50, 75, and 95 percent during the billing period.
  • A company using an external recruiter for hiring would prefer that the recruiter process the background checks on new employees, as part of the screening process.

SIPOC’s are a great starting point for understanding CTQ’s because they identify internal and external customers and the outputs that those customers receive.  The next logical step is to ask the customer(s), “When you receive this (output), what is important to you?”