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NOVEMBER 2019 I DESIGN007 MAGAZINE 41 tween co-workers. Thankfully, there have been some new enhancements in PCB design tech- nology that can help. The team design concept has been around for a long time, but recent enhancements to team design tools are breathing new life into this process. Many PCB design systems now have methods for enabling multiple layout designers to work on the same design at the same time. This used to be a laborious process of writing out portions of the layout for each team member to work on and then merging the files back together again at the end of the day. While helpful, this also created many op- portunities for confusion and error. With the latest advancements in team de- sign software, however, multiple designers can work together without fear of conflicting with each other's work. No longer do design- ers have to work on their portion of the design in the dark. Instead, each team member works together in the same environment allowing for real-time communication throughout the en- tire team. 3. Resist the Urge to Assume Making assumptions about how others should do something is perhaps one of the largest communication traps that we can fall into because we know how we would ap - proach a problem; therefore, we assume that others will perceive and resolve the problem in the same way. Consider for a moment this simple example. Many years ago, on an older CAD system, I would create a surface-mount pad by drawing a polygon, yet my co-workers used line draws instead for the same task. The polygon was the preferred method to enable accurate DRC checks, and I assumed that they didn't care. But when I finally found out what was going on, I was pretty embarrassed to realize how wrong my assumption was. The simple truth was that no one had ever told them differently. There was probably a lot of wasted work because I made a foolish assumption instead of following up on the problem by asking a simple question; it was simply a training is - sue. When we resist the urge to assume and look beyond the issue, sometimes we'll find out that there is more to the story than we re- alized. Think about the co-worker that is habitual- ly late; are they lazy, or are there problems at home that no one knows about? How about the vendor that always messes up your order; are they bad at their jobs, or are you not giv- ing them enough information? My mom used to tell me that when I was angry at someone to close my mouth and count to three before I did anything. The older I get, the more I see the wisdom behind those words. 4. Document as Much as Possible Those of you who have read my columns be- fore know that documentation is one of my fa- vorite communication drums to beat, and for a good reason. Without documentation, there isn't an accurate way to track work in progress, nor is there a reliable way to show that you did or didn't do those things that are required for your job. Instead, a well-developed documen- tation system can be very helpful. Some exam- ples might include: • Design Processes: Documented processes will provide a guideline to all for expected data input, design milestones, reviews, and department signoffs. • Change Requests: Have a system in place where changes to design, manufacturing, or any other process are recorded and signed off by the appropriate participants. • Project Tasks: Having a system that allows you and other team members to track milestones for different projects is a great way to keep team members, manage- ment, or customers updated. • Personal Tasks: If you are dealing with requests that are outside the normal project workflow, it is important to keep track of what you are doing and for whom. 5. Listen to Yourself There are many reasons for communication problems between people, and if you are hav- ing difficulty in trying to figure out what is

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