The Build vs. Buy Conundrum, Article 2 in a Series

  • January 27, 2015
  • author:

Systems Planning Services represent the first stage of a purpose-built computer engineering project.

The phase should begin prior to making the decision about ‘Doing it yourself’ or ‘outsourcing’  some or all of the project. Just by scratching the surface of the undertaking early in the planning phase the complexity and magnitude of the endeavor becomes readily apparent. Assuming the undertaking as an in-house project requires that skills, resources, intestinal fortitude, foresight, and perseverance be abundant not just in the engineering department, but throughout the company.

Most certainly within this phase, the physical and software aspects of the computing platform must be defined and planned. However, it is also during this initial phase where considerations and decision must be made about the entire life cycle of the solution. “Before-the-fact” consideration must be given to mitigated complex issues such as design/build/test/integrate … and also for reliability, logistics, the coordination of different teams, integration within the customer’s environment, and both short-term and post-warranty support.

Decisions made during this phase of the project will likely affect ALL OF these stakeholders:

  • Purchasing
  • Engineering
  • Manufacturing
  • Technical Support
  • Quality Assurance
  • Logistics
  • Operations
  • Finance
  • Marketing

 

Consideration during the Systems Planning Services phase include:

A: Custom Configuration

The solution will be configured to be optimized … but exactly what does “optimized” mean? Is it about CPU horsepower, networking speed, upgradability, support, or ability to work in “difficult” environments? Will one, some, or all of these attributes be “nice to have” or “need to have?”

The configuration and system build will be optimized with respect to technology building blocks … as it leaves your manufacturing facility. It will be optimized “on location” and throughout its useful life with the successful integration within its environment, on-going support, and life cycle considerations.

B: Process Control

Process control is most closely associated with building and testing … but it may/must also apply to purchasing, logistics, and even finance.

Do you have a Process Control system? Is it discrete to manufacturing or integrated within the business as an entirety? Is it holistic? Perhaps in the form of concentric circles in place to control each sub-process FOR EVERY ASPECT FROM DESIGN TO post-warranty support.

C: Product evaluation

“Products” are all the technology building blocks from components to subsystems used in assembly.

Will there be “a few or a lot?” Can you evaluate each individually and then in conjunction with all others? Will you evaluate each for suitability “right now,” and anticipate suitability over the product’s projected life?

D: Configuration Control

You don’t need to be reminded that our industry is one of constant change. Will you and how will you reduce the likelihood that some/many/all changes will impact the system? As software drivers improve and hardware is enhanced how you will address the better/faster/cheaper alternatives that will arise. We all know that we cannot control technological advancements … but we must address and mitigate the impact … and the effect on BOTH the internal and external stakeholders and their respective departments.

E: Mechanical

The ones and zeros that ultimately become the value you provide manifest often as mechanical aspects of the solution. The mechanics of your solution must work in and of itself (your solution) andwithin the environment where it will be deployed.

Will your solution be field-upgradeable and its internals be easily accessed, easily disassembled, and easily reassembled?  Or will issues cause unnecessary expenses, frustrated service technicians, and dissatisfied customers?

F: Electrical

Will your system be self-powered or share a power supply or power source with an abutting or integrated device? Will it be deployed in countries using the same power “spec” and operating in temperate, protected environment? Or, are your customers located around the world and deployed in physically harsh or electrically-noisy locales?

G: Firmware/BIOS

Have you planned for the inevitability of firmware/BIOS upgrades and/or downtime due to software issues? Will a “simple” patch prevent or resolve most issues? Will your firmware be volatile and updates addressed “when needed,” or will it be fixed at and to a specific rev level?

Systems Planning Services represent the first stage of a purpose-built computer engineering project.

The phase should begin prior to making the decision about ‘Doing it yourself’ or ‘outsourcing’  some or all of the project. Just by scratching the surface of the undertaking early in the planning phase the complexity and magnitude of the endeavor becomes readily apparent. Assuming the undertaking as an in-house project requires that skills, resources, intestinal fortitude, foresight, and perseverance be abundant not just in the engineering department, but throughout the company.

Most certainly within this phase, the physical and software aspects of the computing platform must be defined and planned. However, it is also during this initial phase where considerations and decision must be made about the entire life cycle of the solution. “Before-the-fact” consideration must be given to mitigated complex issues such as design/build/test/integrate … and also for reliability, logistics, the coordination of different teams, integration within the customer’s environment, and both short-term and post-warranty support.

Decisions made during this phase of the project will likely affect ALL OF these stakeholders:

  • Purchasing
  • Engineering
  • Manufacturing
  • Technical Support
  • Quality Assurance
  • Logistics
  • Operations
  • Finance
  • Marketing

Consideration during the Systems Planning Services phase include:

A: Custom Configuration

The solution will be configured to be optimized … but exactly what does “optimized” mean? Is it about CPU horsepower, networking speed, upgradability, support, or ability to work in “difficult” environments? Will one, some, or all of these attributes be “nice to have” or “need to have?”

The configuration and system build will be optimized with respect to technology building blocks … as it leaves your manufacturing facility. It will be optimized “on location” and throughout its useful life with the successful integration within its environment, on-going support, and life cycle considerations.

B: Process Control

Process control is most closely associated with building and testing … but it may/must also apply to purchasing, logistics, and even finance.

Do you have a Process Control system? Is it discrete to manufacturing or integrated within the business as an entirety? Is it holistic? Perhaps in the form of concentric circles in place to control each sub-process FOR EVERY ASPECT FROM DESIGN TO post-warranty support.

C: Product evaluation

“Products” are all the technology building blocks from components to subsystems used in assembly.

Will there be “a few or a lot?” Can you evaluate each individually and then in conjunction with all others? Will you evaluate each for suitability “right now,” and anticipate suitability over the product’s projected life?

D: Configuration Control

You don’t need to be reminded that our industry is one of constant change. Will you and how will you reduce the likelihood that some/many/all changes will impact the system? As software drivers improve and hardware is enhanced how you will address the better/faster/cheaper alternatives that will arise. We all know that we cannot control technological advancements … but we must address and mitigate the impact … and the effect on BOTH the internal and external stakeholders and their respective departments.

E: Mechanical

The ones and zeros that ultimately become the value you provide manifest often as mechanical aspects of the solution. The mechanics of your solution must work in and of itself (your solution) andwithin the environment where it will be deployed.

Will your solution be field-upgradeable and its internals be easily accessed, easily disassembled, and easily reassembled?  Or will issues cause unnecessary expenses, frustrated service technicians, and dissatisfied customers?

F: Electrical

Will your system be self-powered or share a power supply or power source with an abutting or integrated device? Will it be deployed in countries using the same power “spec” and operating in temperate, protected environment? Or, are your customers located around the world and deployed in physically harsh or electrically-noisy locales?

G: Firmware/BIOS

Have you planned for the inevitability of firmware/BIOS upgrades and/or downtime due to software issues? Will a “simple” patch prevent or resolve most issues? Will your firmware be volatile and updates addressed “when needed,” or will it be fixed at and to a specific rev level?

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInPinterest

Print Friendly and PDF

Comments are closed here.

  • Share
  • FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInPinterest

@ConRes
Follow Us →