Friday, November 16, 2007

Requirements and Capabilities

I attended a presentation yesterday which was intended to help people understand how to do Design for Manufacturing when offshore manufacturing is the objective. Unfortunately the presentation fell way short of its target, and the crowd even got a little annoyed. The presenter was talking about models that have worked before:
  • Document well
  • Follow the process exactly
  • Manufacturing team has ultimate veto on readiness
  • Company level approval policies
which break down perhaps completely in an offshoring environment. Often, a US based firm contracts with multiple manufacturers, in different countries, with different language skills. The capital equipment these vendors have can be very expensive, and what they have will dictate what they can do. The old models won't work.

After hearing the crowd banter, it became clear to me that this is an inexact science. Nobody at this venue deferred to an authority on the subject.

I'm going to spend some time on this, but it seems to me that what we need is a best practice of identifying inviolate requirements (like no lead in the paint) and assumptive requirements (like we assume this component will consume less than 40W), and then somehow mapping these onto the inherent and acquirable capabilities of the offshore manufacturing group, before agreement is reached. Inherent capabilities are those that are constrained by resources including capital equipment and labor, and acquirable capabilities are things like skills that can be learned. The idea is to be able to understand the fit and risk of the product being properly delivered by the manufacturing team.

This is really a half baked concept at this point, but I would be very interested in what practices you may have used to deal with this. If you have an interesting methodology that you can articulate, or better yet one you have used with good results, there may be a speaking opportunity for you here in San Diego.

1 comment:

Craig said...

Nice thoughts. I imagine a matric; requirements classifications on one axis and vendor capabilities on the other.