The ripple effect - Embedded.com

The ripple effect

As a senior product-development manager, you’ve no doubt seen the ripple effect: Your project is humming along and it’s time to add engineers on a crucial part of the design. But wait! The engineers you need are tied up on another project whose schedule has slipped, and they can’t be moved over to yours. What’s worse is when the manager on that project is not sure when they’ll be free.

You’re frustrated and suddenly stalled on the freeway and what happens in larger organizations is chillingly clear: a chain-reaction crash that creates incredible chaos across the R&D group.

Part of the reason so many semiconductor projects miss schedule is that staffing levels are not aligned with the level of complexity that the design team needs to undertake. This is solvable problem.

Fact-based planning provides the team with data for decision-making—ensuring that projects are staffed properly to meet the demands of the design’s complexity. Estimates of design complexity, project-staffing requirements and development cycle time are generated using empirically calibrated models. This is the heart of Fact-based planning, which is used by top semiconductor companies across the industry.

Fact-based planning:
•   Eases the traditional tension between groups within the enterprise that struggle to communicate in different languages by guiding discussions and strategy with facts and data.
•   Enables predictable revenue streams because it yields accurate schedule estimates, therefore there are no surprise shortfalls in revenue or margins.
•   Leads to predictable schedules, which is crucial in an era when time to market is more important than ever, and companies can’t afford to miss the market upturn.
•   Doesn’t replace bottom-up, detailed planning but complements it.

Fact-based planning is essential to an important productivity boosting best practice: seeing the project execution pipeline clearly and managing it centrally. This best practice—and the tooling behind it—rolls up all project plans to generate a picture that shows the total resources consumed by all project plans. With this bird’s-eye view of all project plans, engineering managers can observe where there are shortfalls and over-subscriptions role by role, month by month. This becomes an essential tool for managing the pipeline.

This isn’t an airbag that protects you in a chain reaction crash. This is a radar system that prevents the crash in the first place and gets everyone to their destinations safely.

About the author:
Ron Collett is founder and CEO of Numetrics Management Systems, Inc. (Cupertino, Calif.), which provides semiconductor and embedded systems companies with fact-based product-development planning software that lays the foundation for improved productivity.

Read also:

. How productive is your R&D organization?
. Doing Moore with less

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