Ways you can use our Ignys Services
I’ve taken some time out to review why we’ve been called on for electronics and software assistance. Here are some of the ways we can help you.
Planned and controlled development
The first camp is for those of you who have a product idea. You are planning ahead and are reaching out for expert help.
The projects we deliver for in this case are typically for detailed specifications. For example feasibility studies or proof of concept demonstrators. We also help with design, development and testing of products and test solutions. We help design products to get new or improved ideas to market faster.
In other words helping you to create reliable profitable products.
Achieving the best possible product
When you are starting out with the product idea, there is often an opportunity for the implementation to be shaped, challenged and updated.
This helps achieve the best possible product with the lowest manufactured price.
Early feasibility studies and technology demonstrators for higher-risk aspects of the project can be invaluable in the early stages.
They ensure difficult and novel parts of a product are addressed as early as possible in the project.
This can reassure investors see if the project is viable which may also be a requirement for further funding.
Funding may be from internal sources or from an external source, such as shareholders, business angels or manufacturing support grants.
Recovery of failing projects
All too often, there is a second set of companies calling us.
They need help with products. Usually, because they are significantly delayed or, at the most serious, on their way to complete failure.
These off-track projects have typically missed their release dates by multiple months or even years.
Anxious business owners, directors and leaders are being frustrated by lost sales revenue. As well as, missed market share opportunities and wasted R&D spend.
For these projects, there is often a different emphasis. This is project recovery with a view to launch the product as soon as possible.
By necessity, these projects need to use as much of the existing design work as possible and minimise change.
Sometimes doing this would result in poor product functionality or higher than acceptable product costs so you need a keen eye to look over it. And this is where our team come in
The projects that turn to us after earlier struggles typically have the root cause of their issues in the following areas.
- Engineering resource availability
- Compliance failures
- Poor technical performance in one or more areas
- Undocumented requirements or frequent requirement changes
Engineering resource availability
Over-stretched internal teams
Companies which have a level of internal R&D resource often approaching us.
The company expects this internal resource to develop the next new idea for the business.
Instead, their time is being consumed in a firefighting mode, fixing bugs and adding missing features.
Keeping the existing product lines in production by dealing with component obsolescence is another frequent task for this team.
Often the products the team is working on have come from a necessarily short development cycle.
In other words a development cycle aimed at getting a product to market quickly, usually driven by competitive pressures.
The rapid development can rack up technical debt in the process.
Other companies recognise that electronics, software or both are outside of their internal skills base.
In addition they have bursts of intense requirements followed by quiet periods during market launches.
They use external, often part-time, one or two-person design resources.
Due to the nature of part-time design resources, these must always have project work for multiple clients on the go.
When one project slips or has higher complexity than expected, all their other projects must manage accordingly.
This brings a phenomenon that is all too common. The designers become quiet and unresponsive, often when deliverables are expected.
Sometimes the designer is working on other, higher priority projects. On other occasions, the designer has gone on holiday or has had time off sick, both without informing the customer.
The common theme seems to be an absence without communication at a vital point in the project for the customer.
Of course, the most current issue with using contractors is IR35. With the government constantly changing legislation around this, it becomes more complicated to use contractors effectively.
Product prototypes can appear to functionally work but may not meet the legal requirements for compliance for safety, electromagnetic compatibility, wireless behaviour or more.
It is not at all unusual to be brought a product that is considered complete, but which has a performance issue for radio communications range or battery life.
As people don’t know what they don’t know there can be blank faces when asked about what EMC compliance testing has been performed.
Electronics projects may be new to the person leading the project and as such compliance can be a blind spot. This is also true for new and inexperienced designers who may never have experienced the challenging days where a finished product has emissions above the permitted limit-line, or which latches up when subjected to electrostatic discharge.
Better to build compliance planning in at the design stage, than have to go back to it, costing time and money.
Poor requirements and specification changes
One of the fastest ways of wasting product development funds is, to begin with a poor set of requirements.
Product requirements drive the design, test and verification for products.
Where these requirements omit key functionality then additions and modifications will be necessary.
These changes may be minor or may force significant re-work which potentially means that much of the earlier development is scrapped.
When the specification itself is changed, this can have a similar impact.
As with compliance failures, this is often being caused by a lack of knowledge.
Not knowing what you don’t know can be a major problem.
The good news is Ignys is here to help.
It costs nothing for an initial conversation, where we will ask a few important questions to ensure you are looking at everything you need to.
Lack of process with results checkpoints
It is easy for research and development to be out of control and burning both time and money.
Unless it’s truly blue-sky research, all R&D should have a goal.
Whatever the goal, working towards targets and checkpoints will help you control resource budgets.
For example, in one project we worked on ways to achieve power consumption targets in a novel radio mesh network.
After a system design, some hand calculations and spreadsheet modelling we had a set of power consumption versus functionality targets.
These worked very effectively to bring a sharp focus for the development efforts, laid out clear expectations for the client and allowed results and progress to be kept in check.
Conversely, we’ve seen projects where the key sensor measurement hasn’t been developed or tested yet the rest of the system has been developed around it.
It is almost as if the developers knew what the difficult part would be and simply avoided it.
Perhaps they were hoping it would develop and fix itself?
Hopefully, the above has helped in your product development and maybe given pause for thought.
If you’re at the start of product development, need some specific R&D for a problem you need to solve or if your project is starting to struggle to get in touch
Let’s have a conversation to see if we can help you get your development back on track.
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