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When companies launch new products, special attention needs to be paid to all the possibilities that exist that could lead to that product’s failure. The more complex these products are, or the more complex their supply chains, understanding these possibilities becomes even more crucial. That’s where the APQP process comes into play. Here’s our short guide to APQP, what it is, how it works, and what you can expect from it.
APQP stands for Advanced Product Quality Planning. It’s a structured and systematic process that focuses on how to ensure customers are satisfied with any new product or process. While you might not have heard about it before now, APQP has existed for quite a long time, though it has gone through some name changes since its inception; the early 1980s saw the Ford Motor Company using APQP processes, though at that time it was simply referred to as Advanced Quality Planning, or AQP.
Whether it’s called AQP or APQP, however, is largely irrelevant. What does matter is that entire industries followed suit in Ford’s footsteps. By 1994, the larger US automaker industry created a standard APQP process together and revised it further in 2008, all to ensure that automotive manufacturers all have a common process to rely upon. This isn’t unique to the car industry, of course; any company that supplies goods and services can leverage APQP to bring the most valued and valuable versions of those goods and services to the market and continuously improve them.
The APQP process begins with a pre-planning stage where you conceptualize a new product. You then make several assumptions about what will be required to create the product for sale. After you’ve established these early parameters, the process then begins in earnest. Here are the next five core steps associated with APQP, presented in order:
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