I was reminded during a conversation recently what the main difference between a process engineer and a test engineer is. & why when I was working in EMS manufacturing we would get a test engineers to talk to customers in preference to a process engineer. Of course this was not an absolute rule, but one we usually followed. The reason? I hear you ask.
A test engineer can read a circuit diagram!
Meaning they could hold a meaningful dialog with the customer on what the product was designed to achieve in addition to discussing test coverage and test processes.
I had'nt thought about it much until that conversation reminded me, but the importance of understanding what the customer is trying to achieve should be the starting point for any initiative. When we do take time to understand, we sometimes find the underlying objective is outside the single driver of higher yields. Indeed, I found that some forward thinking organisations actually focus on the whole customer experience, of which product yield is just one element.
So in short to align ourselves with our customers objectives we need not only to ask the right questions, but also be capable of understanding the answers.