Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Planning Your Next Embedded System

Since my philosophy on product development is so closely aligned with requirements definition, I don’t know how you can begin a new product development without creating a team first.

The team should not be composed of only technical contributors, but also domain experts (internal or external), stakeholders from various company departments, and finally the user community.

Once the team is assembled, you can begin to define product offerings, value, cost, etc. With timely marketing input up-front, coupled with manufacturing and service personnel voicing their inputs from the beginning, you can see a product concept emerge.

My advice is to keep the team involved all the way through development and deployment gaining feedback as you go.

So if it’s a question of technology or team, I always choose team first. What do you say?


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Smartphones and Service Technicians

Smartphones will soon replace laptops as the primary tool for service technicians.

Companies are realizing that laptops are expensive to maintain in the field, and no longer present a clear-cut alternative to a smartphone. In addition, many service personnel already have a smartphone with them at all times for communication needs.

Advances in core technologies have made smartphones quite capable for the diagnostic tests and troubleshooting of field service personnel. And new smartphones will still support legacy systems via USB adapters just as laptops do.

The main thing lacking is apps that integrate information for service technicians, which is no easy feat. The apps must be smart and collect data from various sources, including diagnostic test information, part procurement, customer and warranty information, and incident and problem reports to name a few. It is this total integration in a simple package that will be a game changer.

Please share with me your experience with moving your service personnel to a mobile platform.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Process vs. People

Can a solid process support an inferior team? Yes.

Can a capable team overcome an insufficient (or inappropriate) process? Yes.

So which situation is more likely to be successful? In my opinion, it's the team every time. People trump everything.

Even though a good process makes a good team even more productive, a small team of high performers can do amazing things. The key here being a “small” team. Once you get past a certain size--I’d say 4 - 6--even the brightest superstars can become bogged down by poor communications and an inefficient working environment.

So if I had to pick, I’d pick the people. But of course, both is nice.