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58 The PCB Design Magazine • January 2017 designers with a mix of tool knowledge that can support any type of RFQ that comes in. The third challenge is the commoditization of board layout. Tool vendors tout autorout- ing as their newest, most improved, wonderful feature. Electrical engineers prefer to hand off their schematics to someone else to "route the wires." After all, how hard can it be to connect the dots, quite literally? The expectation is that the layout phase shouldn't be all that difficult, but we all know that as technology pushes us into hyper-fast clock signals and escaping 0.2 mm BGA pins in the smallest number of layers possible, it often does feel like a game of Jenga, Tetris and Candy Crush Saga, all rolled into one. The expecta- tion oversimplification of the layout phase of design leaves many of us pulling out what's left of our hair. But where there are challenges, there also lie opportunities, especially those that give us a competitive advantage to nullify the chal- lenges. The Opportunities The first opportunity is that of a fast turn time. Even though no one plans to be in a hurry, many product development teams, espe- cially their managers and PMs, take longer than expected to get the schematics underway. And when it's time for layout, they have very little time, want us to start tomorrow and be done in about half the estimated schedule. This is an opportunity for those who have developed an internal process that allows them to actu- ally deliver. And when sitting in the office of a prospective customer and you can tell stories of delivering under duress, it makes the sales job so much easier. The second opportunity is that of service. In many senses, this is the same axiom that you'll find in most businesses. In our line of work, if we can make the life of an engineer, a man- ager or a project manager easier by picking up their pieces, arranging an accurate, timely, best- practice-following board layout so they only need one spin before they are ready to make the push to production, we have provided a ser- vice to them that engenders happiness in their own job, creates a level of trust, and becomes their path of least resistance to product success. The loyalty that grows from this is very difficult to sever. Selling services where service is truly the core competency being delivered becomes easier. The third opportunity is one of design ac- curacy. Getting the board right the first time means investing in reviews on the front end, SELLING PCB DESIGN SERVICES IN A FIRST-WORLD COUNTRY Figure 1: Lance Olive, center, and the rest of the Better Boards staff.

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