Design007 Magazine

PCBD-Mar2016

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18 The PCB Design Magazine • March 2016 Today: Focus on Project Management Fast-forward to 2016. Customers are look- ing for resources who have both the skills and knowledge to help them get their products de- veloped. What designers have to do is demon- strate the value of our services and capabilities. We don't have to do everything alone; it is good to partner with technologists who have a differ- ent skill set than yours, and it's an asset to have a full suite of engineering resources at your dis- posal. I've found that acknowledging that you may not know the answer to a certain question, but you have access to someone who does, is usually well received and respected. Whether you want to disclose that is your decision, of course. Customers no longer want to manage their PCB design projects anymore. They would rath- er throw the project over the wall and have us manage it for them. This is where we show our value, and this is worth a lot more to them than just doing a physical PCB layout. You can see the look of relief on the custom- er's face when you demonstrate the willingness to manage their project, along with the skills to do so. Customers will keep coming back and more importantly, they will spread the word about your company. This particular knife also cuts the other way; if you screw up their project, the word will spread even faster. In order for us to manage a project that has many facets, first we need to understand what the customer wants. Simply put: 1. What is the input? 2. What is the output? 3. What does the customer plan on doing with it? 4. What do they plan to use to generate the inputs? 5. What do they intend to do with the outputs? These questions open up the conversation and will organically lead you down the path of what they truly want and this will force you to start asking some questions on your own, like the following: 1. Do I know how to do this project? 2. Do I know someone who knows how to do this if I don't? 3. Do I have time? 4. How much time is this going to take? 5. How will this impact my current projects? 6. If I need to get someone else involved, how much are they going to charge me? Once all these questions are answered, you will be in a good position to create the estimate and a timeline for your customer's project. An important note: Stick to the timeline. It goes without saying, but I will mention it anyway, when the project starts to change from the original statement of work, there is always the opportunity to renegotiate costs and pric- ing. Don't be afraid to do this. It is necessary that the client understand that there is value to your time and services and changes are costly in both. When You Become a Design Customer Next, I want to discuss the customer's point of view and how you should be addressing the choice of their design bureau. We all may wind up needing to outsource design work from time to time. Let's face it, choosing the right design en- gineering company is hard. It is like a blind date. I don't know you and you don't know me. Suspicion and distrust are normal, es- pecially when you will be asked to fork over design strategies for success—and profit " I've found that acknowledging that you may not know the answer to a certain question, but you have access to someone who does, is usually well received and respected. Whether you want to disclose that is your decision, of course. "

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