What are the 5 Phases of APQP?

September 8, 2023

In today's competitive aerospace and automotive industries, ensuring products meet customer needs and expectations is of utmost importance. Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) is a tried-and-true approach that facilitates communication, assures quality, and guarantees timely completion. In a previous blog post we covered what is advanced product quality planning and in this blog post, we will dive into "what are the five phases of APQP", providing you with a solid understanding of this essential process.

Understanding APQP: Definition and Importance

A group of people discussing advanced product quality planning in aerospace and automotive industries

APQP, or Advanced Product Quality Planning, is an approach used widely in the auto industry to create products that meet customer needs. It serves as a form of quality assurance by pre-emptively avoiding mistakes during the product’s planning APQP phase and ensuring predetermined quality goals are met. This system combines five core tools - APQP or PPAP, FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis), MSA (Measurement Systems Analysis) and SPC (Statistical Process Control) – making it highly effective for streamlining planning processes with deliverables meeting top notch standards expected by customers at its conclusion.

The importance of APQP lies within its ability to foster strong relationships between OEMs & suppliers through efficient communication protocols created on the basis of mutual understanding involving these entities. This synergy even before embarking upon any process changes after introduction or release will help achieve desired outcomes every time assuring overall satisfaction from all parties.

How many phases does an APQP have?

The APQP consists of five stages, which are all focused on producing quality products that will satisfy customer needs.

Below are the 5 APQP Phases:

  • Planning for both Product Planning and Quality Program Definition
  • Product Design and Development
  • Process Design and Development for the development process to be successful
  • Validation of the product as well as its process before production launch and assessment
  • Production, including continuous improvement from feedback

Each step includes particular activities with objectives required in order to make sure there is a positive outcome. To sum up, these steps aim at designing, planning, ensuring full compliance with customers demands, and developing both product design & features while also furthering processes such as technical aspects related to fabrication or delivery methods.

How are Levels defined in context of APQP/PPAP?

Frequently companies dictate PPAP submission requirements based on defined levels. For example, a Level 1 PPAP submission may only require a PSW, while a Level 2 PPAP submission may require product samples and supporting data in addition to the PSW. The higher the level, generally the greater the requirements.

The Five Phases of APQP: An Overview

An image representing the five phases of APQP, which are: Planning and Definition, PD&D, Process Design and Development, Product and Process Validation, and Launch, Feedback, Assessment and Corrective Action. Learn what are the 5 phases of APQP with this helpful visual.

The APQP process is divided into five stages. It consists of Planning, Product Design and Development, Process Design & Development, Product and Process Validation, On-going Production, Use and Post-deliver Service. Each step builds upon the one before with certain inputs/outputs to follow accordingly.

In this section we will go through each phase in more depth so that you can gain a comprehensive understanding of it all - from product design to process validation. Development processes right up to feedback assessment and corrective action!

Phase 1: Planning

The primary goal of phase 1 of APQP is to comprehend customer expectations and establish a high-quality process, laying out objectives, design parameters and customer requirements. Early recognition of possible issues is essential since revising them in later steps may result in greater costs for rectifying any failure mode that occurs during operations or support. Implementing APQP offers an opportunity to decrease risks by recognizing potential problems earlier on in development procedures, which might prove advantageous especially for Original Equipment Manufacturers dealing with multiple suppliers as well as their sub-tier vendors. This reinforces both a partnership between supplier/customer while safeguarding process quality simultaneously.

By concentrating on what customers need plus setting up robust foundations before continuing into the product development cycle, Phase 1 provides all other subsequent phases with necessary preparation thus paving the way towards successful results overall.

Phase 2: Product Design and Development

The outputs of phase 2 in the Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) system is design failure mode, process flow charts and additional required documentation. In this phase of APQP, teams develop prototypes while making sure that all designs meet customer specifications. They also evaluate measurements methods from inputs generated in previous stages which feed into manufacturing and assembly aspects as well as FMEA control plans.

By formulating a constructible product design together checklist APQP with appropriate process flows to ensure quality standards for production processes are met, every effort is made to create favorable conditions heading towards development phase leading up to successful launch/marketing of the final product.

The key responsibility rests on New Product Development (NPD) team members who have been entrusted with taking certain considerations regarding planning measures before engaging into Steps for boosting structural configuration associated with available resources by maintaining optimal level throughout each stage till completion target achieved at desired time interval within expected budgeted costs limits set earlier.

Phase 3: Process Design and Development

In the APQP process, Phase 3's focus is on developing and confirming productive systems and machines. Its main objectives are to ensure production efficiency as well as reliable equipment/procedures. This phase takes in outputs from Phase 2 including Process Flow Chart and other relevant data for effective manufacturing system development, PFMEA creation plus Control Plans addressing potential risks of process failure mode during validation assessment.

The successful implementation of these activities allows a safe shift into the product evaluation stage, which eventually leads to launching an optimal outcome-oriented product solution. All this is done by taking efficient measures throughout the whole procedure such that any chances of slip ups or errors can be minimized significantly with high precision accuracy upheld consistently.

Phase 4: Product and Process Validation

Phase 4 of APQP is an essential step to validate the production process and product, making sure both meet customer needs. Measurement methods that were developed in Phase 3 are utilized as input for this stage. To guarantee success during launch and long-term satisfaction from customers, testing and analysis must be performed while maintaining a Production control plan up-to-date with considerations about the Production Part Approval Process (PPAP).

The objectives here include assessing test run results, measuring system inspection, and checking sample data according to customer requests. Plus, verifying appropriate measurement system analysis (MSA) techniques applied throughout manufacturing processes accordingly. Finally all these efforts lead to attaining accurate outputs which can be confirmed through implementing good practices related to quality assurance strategies such as us audits or validations if needed at any moment.

Phase 5: On-going Production, Use and Post-deliver Service

The final APQP Phase 5 step is focused on ensuring lasting customer satisfaction and establishing a strong partnership between customers and suppliers. Quality Control (QC) charts, Statistical Process Control (SPC), feedback systems, corrective actions, and the creation of databases to hold quality goals are all utilized in Phase 5 to enhance customer satisfaction. This phase contributes significantly to the success of product development processes that lead to successful supplier partnerships.

By focusing on continuous improvement initiatives which ensure long-term customer satisfaction through correct procedures being followed according to precise quality objectives formulated earlier along with use of statistical methodologies for data analysis, an effective platform has been created.

The stability achieved within this partner network results from coherency provided by special tools like QC charts or SPCs implemented over various stages. This builds trust among partners involved while boosting overall economy standards simultaneously.


Adopting the structured APQP process can be a game-changer for automotive and aerospace companies, leading to greater customer satisfaction through meeting all of their requirements and expectations. This efficient framework encompasses five phases: from initial planning and design right up to final product release, assure quality product that benefit both supplier partnerships as well as end users. Embracing Advanced Product Quality. Planning will no doubt reap APQP/PPAP benefits in terms of overall competitiveness, so take advantage today!

Is your team currently tracking and creating APQP/PPAP Deliverables in Excel? Contact Net-Inspect's Sales Team to learn more about how Net-Inspect's web-based software APQP solution can be used to track APQP/PPAP deliverables throughout all 5 phases in a secure and collaborative manner.