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Saving time is saving money. The half year review.

Back to work.  Sunday in the sense of travelling during the evening for a customer visit. Travelling for work counts as work, just a little less so.  It is time denied to non-work.  I got nicely used to not working over the previous two weeks. But somebody somewhere has to do some work sometime, and I think it is my turn again now. On the morning I was to head back from the end-of-vacation-place-in-Georgia on Friday I was thinking … “Hmm, middle of the year already. For there, at the top the pages of the local paper  in the  dubious-to-exaggeratedly named “World Famous Tybee Island Breakfast Club” was proof the calendar has slid into the sixth month like Curtis Granderson of the Detroit Tigers sliding into third base for a Triple.

End of Vacation Photo

Tybee Island GA - kites near the Fishing Pier

We are half way through the year. Although in Mentor Graphics the financial year does not correspond with the calendar year, plenty of companies still have that standard. On my return to work I was pondering that the glass is half full on the year, not half empty.  If a customer wants to adopt CHS this year it is time to get moving pretty smartly.  There are six months left in the calendar year.

Generally, from initial interest in the CHS product line from a prospective customer to going ahead with a purchase is a time period measured in months and not weeks. At a User-2-User conference in San Jose just over 3 years ago I shared my thoughts with attendees about what could be done to streamline that evaluation period, the vendor selection.  The customers I work with are adopting a tool-set at the heart of engineering processes. The people responsible for doing this rarely have done an IT, business re-engineering, supplier selection project like it in the past. Lots of new things to learn. Lots of downside for making a mistake. False starts are very costly. Failure is unthinkably expensive.

Here are some start propositions which are almost always true.

  • if you have a need for some engineering process overhaul, some efficiencies, it is in part because you want to save money.
  • you want to proceed as quickly as possible to get the benefits you are looking to accrue
  • you want to make the right decision to get software that satisifes your needs

There are about six months left in the year. 

Here’s a typical timeline for selecting a tool like CHS.

June 2009 - April 2010

8 months elapse between August 2009 - April 2010 Selection process

The better you understand requirements  – what you truly need in the systems definition and harness design to manufacturing tool-set – the quicker you can move to selection and deployment. The selection process itself is often expensive, I have worked with organizations which have easily gone past the $500,000 cost mark just on vendor vetting and evaluation steps.  It is undoubtedly important and a significant decision, but wouldn’t it be nice to not have to spend so much effort and time?

Let’s get going a bit faster. Save money – make better decisions.

Back in 2006 I reviewed where the requirements were coming from across a broad range of customers who were considering adopting CHS. Potential users structured communications with Mentor using Requests for Quotation (RFQ) and (RFI) Requests for Information documents.  Over time I had access to a number of these.  I extracted data from them, collated, categorized and analyzed. Patterns began to emerge in the data which suggested to me that the process of selecting and evaluating an Electrical Interconnect Design to Manufacturing System really could be safely short-cut.  I recently revisted the advice I doled out in the light of some evaluation experiences and customer requirements I have seen in the 3 years since I developed this theory.

These latest reality checks confirmed again to me I was on the right track 3 years ago.  I do believe that if you follow a few simple steps you can make the right decision for your company quicker and safer. That’s less cost and less risk. Also I think you can do this not exclusively to confirm CHS is the right system for you, but also in some circumstances to realize maybe CHS isn’t the right system for you. 

What I’m going to do in the next few posts is summarize that advice. First I will tell you what four areas are time and again the most important to you selecting the best system.  Second I will describe what each of those four areas are. Then sixth I’ll describe what can safely be left out because it takes care of itself – what comes along for the ride with the other four important requirements groupings.

It is an easy way to get from the eight month timeline shown above down to a four month timeline.  

Start productive use more quickly

Start productive use more quickly


The reason I’m doing this? Well, it is an important part of my job to help customers save money. Times are rough, and everyone could do with a little extra cash staying in the pocket or not being spent out of the budget. And also is something I’m quite in favor of that customers get time to productivity as fast as possible.  

There is another reason. I believe that this way of defining requirements makes perfect sense, and does hold out the prospect of saving an awful lot of time. However I don’t think my views count for much if they contrast with people who are really at the sharp end of this – it is my theory and I am curious whether there is proof of the efficacy of the advice over the other side of the relationship from the vendor.  I would like to know the reaction of organizations who are thinking of getting themselves some CHS products, or who have recently become the proud owners of some licenses.

Do you agree with this advice? Or disagree? Please educate me if you read the next few posts. Does it work for you?


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About Paul Johnston

Paul JohnstonI help Mentor Graphics customers to be successful, accomplish a more rapid return on investment. My professonal focus is on the Capital product line. Customers need a good technical and commercial understanding when making software system purchasing and adopting decisions and in addressing issues through to best resolution. I am one of the team of experts Mentor employs to support the Capital worldwide. I was born just outside of Manchester England, am now resident in the metro Detroit area of Michigan USA. I have worked for Mentor Graphics for more than 15 years. Visit Paul Johnston's Blog

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Noticed your picture of our kites at Tybee. If you have more, I would appreciate copies. Sue

3:13 AM Jul 17, 2009

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