Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) is a framework designed to support the development of a product or service that will ensure customer satisfaction. First established in the late 1980s for utilization in the automotive industry, APQP guides the development process and enables manufacturers, suppliers and customers to share standardized results. 

APQP specifies three phases over 23 topics that must be completed prior to production. The phases – development, industrialization and product launch – contain sub-categories ranging from design testing to product packaging and combine to provide assurance that a part or product is ready to be successfully manufactured.

What is APQP Software?

APQP software is essential to many industries and was defined by the automotive industry as a way to institute an up-front approach for building-in quality.

The automotive industry released QS-9000 in the mid-nineties to govern the APQP software process and define the details of the Production Part Approval Process (PPAP).  Advanced Product Quality Planning calls for suppliers to use a formalized PPAP. Currently, many packages for APQP Software focus on document management.

APQP software is a communication method where a customer can send information about their product design to the supply chain. The supply chain can then include all types of considerations and techniques to ensure that, to the best extent they have available to them, the supplier can trust their product meets or exceeds the customer requirements.

The APQP process is made up of many tools. These tools are structured and delivered in such a way that over the course of the development of a new product, they can determine the risk in the product design and suggest real-time corrective actions for making the product better.

Why is APQP Software Necessary?

The primary objective of APQP software is to make sure that the product being produced meets certain standards of quality management. Equally important is ascertaining that the process of production meets the requirements of the customer.

The greatest challenge associated with manufacturing production is time. Once a purchase order has been activated, the race to the creation of a new product is on. The various internal processes requiring approval can impact the ability for production to occur. APQP combats this by standardizing several development sub-processes and effectively outlining the requirements of each associated department. 

Improving quality outcomes by virtue of a detailed framework, APQP encompasses five distinct phases:

  1. Plan and define. Keeping the end-user in mind, the initial phase is strictly focused on meeting customer specifications. A preliminary bill of material, process flow chart and product assurance plan are executed in this phase.
  2. Product development and design. In addition to a product feasibility study, the product design is accomplished at this stage. Design specifications and design failure modes are considered here.
  3. Process design and development. Predominantly concerned with the manufacturing execution, the plans implemented at this stage consider the cost factors and overall product quality. Outcomes include packing standards and Process Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (PFMEA).
  4. Product and process validation. Focused on testing and finalizing the production control plan, this latter stage of development executes a trial run. Outcomes include the PPAP as well as quality planning sign-off and management support.
  5. Feedback assessment and corrective action. In this phase, the outcome of the trial run is assessed to ensure customer satisfaction. The outputs of this phase include best practices in product delivery and better documentation related to customer satisfaction outcomes.

Through the application of this APQP software, a company can prove four actions:

  1. They have evaluated risk.
  2. They are able to manufacture/produce the required part, regardless of the level of customization.
  3. They know they can produce the part in the required quantities.
  4. They have examined and are able to meet all the requirements of the customer and achieve customer satisfaction.

Without a system like this in place, many times each department is content to work independently from each other through the manufacturing process. Once their section of the process is complete, they pass it down the line and don’t receive feedback until the end of the project. If corrective action to the product design or workflow is needed, they would not hear about it until time and resources have already been wasted.

However, when APQP software is implemented from the very beginning of the manufacturing process flow, it promotes the feeling of teamwork, as well as heightened quality management in the overall product development process. The different departments are constantly working together from the start of the APQP process because this software solution is able to simulate and evaluate the new product. The departments can then take the simulated results and work to enhance the entire process design. Now, the process problems are being targeted before they are even a reality.

Through APQP software, manufacturers can define the product requirements before production, and communicate effectively with the customer.


The DISCUS system offers more than document control.

By creating a cohesive process from which manufacturing outcomes can be universally understood and executed, the totality of your workforce can activate in order to complete an objective. Our platform will reduce project timing, create a standardized APQP dashboard and improve productivity outcomes by improving clarity.

DISCUS AQPQ software ensures that cross-functional communication is employed throughout the product development process. Direct line-of-sight, from implementation through to production is a key benefit of implementing a standardized platform.

Without DISCUS APQP software QMS, departments often work independently on their part of the overall process, not adhering to or improving the overall control plan.

DISCUS software keeps all departments in the loop throughout the production part approval process so they can remain involved in solving problems and contributing to the overall quality improvement of the product as well as customer satisfaction. 

Employ a systematic change to the project management and PPAP protocols by simplifying the documentation process. DISCUS continually endeavors to increase the efficiencies associated with PPAP. Our experts and platforms have a proven track record of improving existing quality management systems and are ready to work with your organization in order to accelerate productivity and improve cross-functional clarity.

As it bridges the gap between the supplier and customer, DISCUS APQP software provides a continuous opportunity throughout the process to assure that quality is built into each and every product.

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