According to David Sangster, Chief Operating Officer at Nutanix, his team is responsible for fulfillment, logistics, quality, reliability, new product introduction, and launching product into volume production. The company also outsources all of its manufacturing needs. “We work with many suppliers including contract manufacturers, distributors, and key technology partners,” said Sangster. “We also use a platform approach to product design and a configure-to-order (CTO) process to reduce SKU (stock keeping unit) proliferation and the need for additional engineering.”
Sangster stated that the number and frequency of changes inherent in the product development activity, as well as data sharing among partners, had become problematic. Unfortunately, his team was stuck relying on Excel spreadsheets and email to address these manufacturing challenges. “It’s embarrassing to admit, but we had a number of instances where the suppliers built the wrong version of the product,” said Sangster. “It was ‘rev A’ all right, but the ‘wrong’ rev A.”
Issues with rework, which included extra procurement, build, and test cycles, also increased delays and were becoming a significant impediment to the company’s total time to market (TTM) objective, which he found “totally unacceptable.”
“Change management was a nightmare,” said Sangster. “With several people making changes and suggestions to uncontrolled documents there were multiple revisions of the same bill of materials (BOM) flying around the ether. No one had any trust in the data, so many local copies abounded based on the ‘mine is right’ premise.”
Sangster admitted change control was his “number one problem.” His priority was finding a solution to manage BOM integrity in order to reduce shipping delays and product errors. “A wrong product number in your BOM can completely blow your quarter and make for a very unpleasant conversation with your CEO and the Board,” he confessed.