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I just wrote a post on the Arena Blog about big picture questions to ask when launching a new product.


Answering these questions (what is the overall expected revenue, are  there additional headcount needs, etc) is often the job of C-level and  VP folks - but these aren't the only contributors to a successful new product launch.


Are there special considerations for NPI that Operations should own? Here are my suggestions, what should be added to this list?




Has Operations considered . . .




  • ·         How to kick off/manage the various production phases (proto, pilot, production)


  • ·         The supply Chain strategy—is it consigned, turnkey, hybrid or ”appliance” manufacturing?


  • ·        CM selection—should your CMs operate locally, offshore or should you go with an ODM?


  • ·         Will you build to order or build to forecast?


  • ·         Time that needs to be added for the quality assurance process


  • ·         Your production capacity requirements, plans for expansion


  • ·         The Finished Goods (FGI) Warehouse/Distribution plan


  • ·         Repair center process and costs


  • ·         How engineering and operations can contribute to cost reduction?

This is for everyone out there who is frustrated with their org's poor BOM management systems (or worse - - a lack of systems.)

In my first company, we were stuck using Lawson and Saleslogix as our ERP and CRM tools, while everyone and their mother was using and an ERP that wasn't from the 80's. Plus, we had no system for managing our product record, and things were getting pretty messy. We frequently had issues with our inventory, with making our cost projections . . . of course all that rolls downhill, and for me - -  someone who just needed effective tools to do my job - - it was a nightmare.

The biggest issue was that the boss never seemed to think we were a company that needed BOM management!


If you are in an organization where your product management tools just aren't cutting it, and are trying to convince your boss that you need a good set of tools to manage your BOM, here are 5 indicators that it’s time for your business to look into a BOM management tool that works.


You may need a BOM management tool if . . .


  1. You handle hard to track designs and frequently changing costs.
  2. You deal with manual processes like parts requests, ECO/ECN documents and deviations.
  3. You manage multiple islands of product data coming from teams like mechanical and electrical design, purchasing and quality.
  4. There are several channels of communication between groups like  ODMs, outsourcing partners, international branches or various web  portals.
  5. Any changes to the product record that are not caught early might result in costly product recalls and scrap.


If this is all true for you, then Excel, or email or even some clunky legacy system just won't cut it.


And just for fun, does anyone have any horror stories they'd like to share about using outdated, legacy tools?

Intelligent part numbering schemes are always well-intentioned.


In your dream scenario, you'll always know that RES parts are resistors.You'll be able to group similar parts in your documentaion easily and quickly. You'll have a clear frame of reference for every part, and be able to predefine the change routings, review processes and manufacturing steps  for each part number class or category.


But there are a lot of hidden challenges of intelligent part numbering, and if you're just getting your system in place, it's worth taking the time to decide if it's really right for you.


Pros and Cons of intelligent part numbering vs non-intelligent part numbering


A thorough bashing of Intelligent part numbering


What are some common challenges of intelligent part numbering?


Resource Drain:


Intelligent part numbers are easily susceptible to descriptive  clutter—becoming very confusing, hard to read and impossible to  remember. Imagine, for instance, trying to recall whether a part number was  intended to specify length then gauge, or the opposite. Does ‘R-12-06’  mean the part is a 12-gauge or that it is half an inch?


When the system gets squirelly, you will either need to invest in time-consuming organization strategies, or extra training for the people who manage the system. Plus, once your system gets confusing, you are opening yourself up to mistakes. (Which take time and money to fix.)


It's tough to modify the system

If you are going to change a part, how do you ensure that those changes get carried across the rest of the system? And what happens if that change  invalidates or conflicts with the part numbers that already exist? This is espe




You have a 4 gauge, 8 inch green cable with the number ‘G-8-4.' It's a good cable, but suddenly one comes out with shielding that is a much better fit for your product. If you want to incorporate the new shielded cable into your numbering scheme, you need to add something to indicate if cables are  ‘shielded’ or ‘unshielded.’ Once you do that, you have to go back and make sure all of the old parts get the update. And make sure everyone knows about the change to the naming scheme.


Major. Pain.


And finally, intelligent part numbering may just be outdated.


If you have a computer tracking your part numbers, does it really matter how smart they are? Especially if you're using QR codes and tablets on the manufacturing floor.


What do you think? Intelligent part numbering - - are you for, or against?

If you're working for a large, established company, your engineering  change process may have been set in stone for as long as you can  remember.

But if you're working for a smaller company, maybe the way changes  are managed depends on who's involved, the size of the change at hand,  or the level of crisis-mode you're in. (So in other words, there is no  set process for managing change, or there is a process that's not always  followed.)


Generally, a change is made up of the following steps:


  1. Finding an issue
  2. Reporting an issue
  3. Proposing a solution
  4. Discussing a solution
  5. Agreeing on a solution
  6. Implementing a solution
  7. Reporting that the solution was implemented


If one ore more of these steps are not happening when it's time to  make changes to your product, there is a good chance you are  experiencing a higher volume of scrap, cost overages and internal  conflict than necessary.


If you don't have a process for managing changes (and a process that  everyone follows) here are some reasons why you should push for one in  2012.

You may be able to get away with an informal or non-existent process  for managing change when you’re first starting out, but as you scale,  part quantities become more significant. With more money on the line,  leaving things open to error or chance just isn’t worth the risk.

Additionally, conflicts between team members are more likely to occur  if key people are left out of the loop, or if there is no process to  turn to when things get hectic.


If you're looking to improve the way you manage change in 2012, keep  in mind that an ideal system balances flexibility, speed and control.  You want the right people to always be advised about changes, so there  are no surprises later on when you’re buying parts in volume, but you  also need to be able to make changes before issues get out of hand, so  you want a process that can happen fast.


If you're interested in learning more about this topic, and some considerations that should go into your engineering change management process, here are some additional tips for creating a better change management process.