The Power of a Hardware Defect Management Solution Tied to the Product Record

Posted in Verify, Defects, ALM
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EngineersDefect tracking is an important part of hardware lifecycle management. Yet many defect tracking tools only relate to their specific areas of a complex process, which can make them ineffective.

Why? Simply put, they don’t facilitate the cross-functional visibility and collaboration necessary to manage product defects enterprise-wide. Said another way, a hardware engineer could avoid having to log in to multiple solutions if they only had to deal with an all-in-one approach which broadcasted his changes: up, across and down stream.

Unfortunately, many companies tend to operate in silos with one-way defined, and oftentimes brittle, handoff points which aren’t harmonized with other key stakeholders, particularly during an iterative product design process. This outdated approach can have a very negative impact on new product development (NPD) and newproduct introduction (NPI) when other key functions are left out of the conversation and aren’t alerted in advance.

Due to the lack of visibility with siloed systems, problems can start snowballing fast. The classical case is key cross-functional team members are unaware of changes due to insufficient transparency. Or, a perceived unnecessary login/check-in is skimmed over yet—upon further review—the function was, in fact, important and the issue didn’t present itself until right before it shipped to market.

Oops.

A recurring problem with the attempted integration of a disparate defect management solution is one of ensuring 100% interoperability. A slight degree of imprecesion may be within acceptable tolerances for some form factors, however if the device is a human’s pacemaker the user demands 100% performance—100% of the time. The inability to play nice 100% across all attributes, 100% of the time, can make for otherwise unattractive outcomes. Not efficiently retrieving all recorded notes or reports, be they PLM or QMS related, as to prior corrective actions and how they relate to product defects, can be difficult to conjoin and verify in particular if there are multiple solutions in the mix.

A company’s ability to foster collaborationacross the entire enterprise is key to successfully managing product defects. The problem is that too often cash-strapped startups rely on folders, email and spreadsheets to jury-rig a hardware defect management system. Equally bad, many large companies frequently use specialized third-party defect tracking tools that are oftentimes disconnected from other core departments. Neither of these tactics fosters the cross-functional collaboration and visibility necessary to sustain successful defect management across the entire product lifecycle or quality spectrum, as well as touching all of the cross-functional stakeholders.

When a ship leaves the harbor, just a few degrees of difference in the rudder’s heading will make a vast difference in where it ends up the further it travels from port. The same can be said for defect management.

The earlier an organization infuses a defect management solution with engineering and product development processes, the more effective it will be at managing product defects for the long haul. An all-in-one product lifecycle management (PLM) and quality management solution(QMS) approach to managing hardware defects can make for increased visibility and better conformity. It starts with design and continues to a product’s end of life, as the most efficient approach to preventing defect snafus from happening early and even more maddening... from appearing after the product ships.

Today’s innovative product companies need a streamlined defect management solution that is connected to the product record. A traceable defect management solution should make it easy for your development team to collaborate on new product development with confidence. This would include engineers of all stripes: electrical, mechanical, software and firmware as well as embracing the quality teams all the way downstream to manufacturing.

In summary, making users toggle between disparate systems can create confusion and errors. Most prefer a single login possessing a single UI. An all-in-one product development platform with embedded defect management is the most efficient way to track defects and ensure they get remediated.

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About the Author

John Papageorge
John Papageorge has worked at some of the biggest names in the high tech industry, launching products and programs for companies, such as Oracle, HP, Cisco, and Microsoft. John's passion ... Read More 

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