Why Focus on Test?
We focused on test because of the large investment companies make there, because of its importance to driving speed into the critical value streams in engineering and manufacturing, and because test and test equipment knowledge makes a difference to costs and speed.
Tests’ Effects on Cost and Speed:
It was probably lucky that our first customer was an engineering executive who thought he was spending too much money on equipment in engineering and was asking me to cut my prices on equipment sales, rentals and calibration service to get his return-on-assets and his capital and operating budgets under control. I didn’t feel lucky at the time. It would not have been possible to cut my prices enough to solve the underlying problems we eventually uncovered and solved, but the fact he was asking was problem enough. Our approach was colored by my background.
In Equipment Utilization — What’s your Number I’ve recounted my questions to the executive about asset utilization. I asked that question having just come off a two-year assignment running a manufacturing operation where utilization of assets was important. Based on what we found that day, one of the significant drivers of cost was ultra-low utilization of the very expensive test equipment used in engineering and manufacturing. It turns out low utilization is just a symptom of a much bigger problem causing delays and additional costs and burdens to critical enterprise value streams. The problem is the lack of organizational trust that thwarts speed and which we discuss in Are You Building a Foundation for Speed?
Test and Test Equipment Knowledge is Critical to Speed and Cost Competitiveness
Our solution contains test equipment specific knowledge that enables companies to reduce the risk of their equipment while being able to easily search and find equipment that they need to get their test done. In the first image, we display a pie chart showing assets in various stages of obsolescence, from new (green) to obsolete and unsupportable (red). This console, like others shown on our various solutions pages, has drill-down capability into details making the risk of obsolete assets to projects and programs visible. The second image shows our capability to search and compare various test equipment capabilities. One-off, generic solutions don’t have capabilities like there.
Critical Enterprise Value Streams: New Product Introduction & Order-to-Cash
Prior to my work in manufacturing, I worked in various marketing roles and was intimately involved in one of two major enterprise projects at GE in the early to mid-1990s.
I was a member of the New Product Introduction (NPI) CAP team from GE’s Plastics business. We were focused on launching more products, faster and at a lower cost so that we could multiply the twofold effect of an increased market share and increased margins. The other process that was under scrutiny was the Order-to-Remittance (OTR) or Order-to-Cash (OTC) CAP team. CAP was a process within GE for Change Acceleration or culture change. Our solutions had to deal with both the technical nature of the problem (processes and tools) and the cultural component (peoples’ mindsets, habits, traditions, and practices) so that change would take hold and results would accelerate. Jack Welch was impatient to get results but he was also giving us the tools and the focus we needed for success.
My background in both critical value stream processes, Engineering NPI and Manufacturing OTC, along with our application of a cultural component to our solution, greatly colored the direction I took our solutions at Sente.
Integrating Resource Management with Enterprise Processes
What I knew deeply from my work at GE is that no asset cost savings could trump the importance of the speed of key enterprise processes to produce increased market share, improved margins and ultimately improved enterprise value and stock price. From this early recognition, we gave direction to our teams that our resource management processes had to 1) get engineers what they needed, when they needed it and 2) do it at the lowest possible cost of time, energy, money and lost opportunity. This statement of purpose has never changed in the 20 years since we first made it while many of our processes and tools have evolved and improved as we’ve learned and as changes in technology – from Access databases to web tools, to Industry 4.0 — enabled new approaches and continually better results.
20 Years of Continuous Improvement in our Value Stream Integration
2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of this map showing our initial thinking on how resource management practices in test mapped to critical value stream processes. Without the orientation that our offer had to improve critical value stream processes, we never could have produced trust with the people responsible for those processes and the award-winning results that our collaborations have produced. Trust is the key to speed as we discuss in our blog post, “Building a Foundation for Speed”.
Why Analysts Say our Test Resource Management Solution is Strategic
Something is strategic when it helps to execute a strategy or plan-of-action, improves the strategy or makes new strategies possible. Depending on the customer and their intentions we’ve done one or all three. All companies today are endeavoring to get products to market faster and at lower costs. Our help integrating test resource management into their critical value streams has done that by increasing speed by 25% or more and reducing costs by up to 75%. Some of our customers have dropped these savings to the bottom line and others decided to reinvest some or all of their improvements in new capabilities or products that produce competitive advantages and revenue growth for their companies. One of our customers took capital freed up by our program and reinvested it to produce a 100X return on the original savings within 5 years.
Major market research firm Frost & Sullivan wrote:
“Because of its differentiated approach and focus on providing strategic and long-term benefits to customers, Sente has been chosen as the worthy recipient of Frost & Sullivan’s Customer Value Enhancement Award for Test Asset Management.”
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Why do People Hoard? Hoarding is the result of people not trusting they will get what they need when they need it. They hoard test equipment, knowledge about tests, or services required to keep a test environment up and running and compliant…like calibration, repair, maintenance services. They do this because they feel if they don’t…
“Sente’s Test Asset Management services saved me 6 weeks during a 6-month project. This delighted our customer, saved us money and enabled me to focus my key technical talent on another new project 6 weeks earlier than planned.”
Director of Engineering