Quality as a Strategic Asset vs. Quality as a Control

Viewing Quality as a strategic asset to new product development can help us create those products that others love, for less. We talk about some challenges with new product development, the ideal state, and how we can use quality to get there. Use quality engineering and reliability engineering to P.R.U.N.E. the development process so we can develop the best products that we can.


Using Quality during Design helps product development engineers PRUNE the development process. Use quality as a strategic asset to product development and go from the old way of doing things to a better way so we get better success.




People-Focused: Use QE and RE methods to keep the development process people-focused, for internal customers and external customers.

Risk-Based Thinking: Talk about the bad things that could happen so you can design-out issues and practice risk-based design and decision-making. Start early analyses for system risks and usability risks.

Uncover Ideas: Facilitate discussions with your greater cross-functional team, your customers, and those that are closest to working with your customers. Remove that barrier and speak directly with them to uncover ideas. Designing-out issues and designing-in features that our customers will love is most easily done at the concept phase.

Navigate Decisions: Use quality engineering and reliability engineering methods to navigate decisions with data. Use early reliability analyses with technical assessments of concepts to drive design decisions. Use quality engineering methods to help the team with early usability assessments of concept ideas, and to turn qualitative ideas into quantitative measures. Iterative and early concept evaluations can help us evaluate different design concepts, even without prototypes.

Empower Teams: Empower the development team in the design process. Product design engineers proactively work with them on concepts, using quality methods as frameworks to aid in discussions and teamwork.

How to start

You may not know where to start.

  • As a first step, with your cross-functional team start a high-level process flow chart of your user's process: the steps your customer takes when interacting with and using your concept product. Identify gaps in understanding. Figure out where things could go wrong. Notice where you may develop a different concept idea that could eliminate some of those bad things from happening.
  • Reach out to a quality engineer or reliability engineer for help.
  • Reach out to me.

Citations for metrics I reference:

Cooper, Robert G. Winning at New Products: Accelerating the Process from Idea to Launch, 3rd ed. Perseus Publishing., 2001, pp. 59-77.

Evans, James R. and William M. Lindsay. Managing for Quality and Performance Excellence, 11th ed. Cengage, 2020. pp. 29.