APQP not performing? It could be you are looking at the task all wrong!

When it comes to APQP, most of the focus is put on the tasks inside of the methodology. Tasks are the smallest building blocks of the APQP framework and are eventually stacked together to describe phases, however most practitioners think about this incorrectly and look at each task in isolation, as a stand-alone product. This leads them to rush around at the last minute and race to get something complete, but because they do not understand the INTERDEPENDENCY of the tasks… the effectiveness of the activity is rarely up to par.

This habit of looking at tasks in isolation leads to ineffective gates, and projects that do not deliver to the levels quoted to the customer. It really has nothing to do with the practitioner, but more around how they are handling the tasks as isolated objects…which is completely wrong.  The APQP process is a well-orchestrated, well thought out series of INTERDEPENDENT tasks, each one building on the other. To explain this let us look at an example of the interdependencies of task through various phases of APQP.

Our example begins with the preliminary process flow in phase 1, in this phase for this task we have the basic building blocks of the process (the preliminary process flow describes what touches what and the series of process steps as explained to the customer in quotation). This preliminary process flow is then utilized in Phase 2 for the new equipment, tooling, and facilities requirements. The way we need to think about it is “the new equipment, tooling and facilities requirements utilize the information from the preliminary process flow in order to refine the flow in phase 2”. We continue with this example into phase 3, where the mature process flow is developed, this mature process flow utilizes the new equipment, tooling, and facilities requirements to finalize the actual flow based on the equipment purchased and the facility infrastructure that is consumed.

The mature process flow is a perfect example of the Interdependency of tasks across multiple phases. If a practitioner just focused on the product (the mature process flow in phase 3) without having high quality requirements, then the result could be an ineffective process flow that does not actually match reality. As an APQP practitioner it is essential to ask yourself …. “What goes ahead of this task, what are the prerequisites that assemble this task?” and failing to ask these questions will inevitably lead to poor performing programs. Another example of interdependency can be found in the PFMEA.

The PFMEA begins with the preliminary process and product characteristics from phase 1, leading into phase 2. In phase 2 there are several inputs like the new gauges and testing requirements which add in prevention and detection elements and the new equipment, tooling and facilities requirements add in the potential new work elements for the PFMEA. As the PFMEA approaches phase 3 we see the interdependency of even the elements inside the phases where the floor plan layout can add substantial risks not present even from the mature process flow, simply caused by the arrangement of equipment in the real world.

So, in summary, looking at tasks in isolation leads to poor performance of projects and failed gateways, and as a practitioner you always want to be asking yourself “what is the interdependencies for the tasks I am undertaking “, and this will allow you to put high-quality outputs into the task at hand.

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