Formalize your process.

Companies often have a pretty good hardware development process in place, dealing with electrical and mechanical drawings, bills of material, and the factory floor interface.  Most of these processes are in place so the manufacturing department knows what to make and how to put it together.  The process may have started out as a group exercise on how to get things done, and there may even have been some notes to describe the process.  But over the years various changes could have been introduced to streamline or improve the process, and the formal documentation did not follow.  This would result in a major portion of the development process becoming more informal, based on what people do, what they remember, and even who they know.  Relying on experience can be a good thing, but relying on memory can mean forgotten steps of a process that were intended to avoid systematic errors.

It may be time to take a look around and see what people throughout the organization are actually doing, and compare it to what the formal process describes.  Determine whether the actual operations are better or worse than the intended process, and make corresponding adjustments to your formal process.  Be sure to include a set of formal reviews and approvals as part of the update.  Then inform and train those who use the process so that it is followed by everyone.

Tagged as:     John Yozallinas     Functional Safety     exida  

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