How Kvaser runs over 50 products on the same platform
All engineers enjoy solving problems. But your engineers should focus on those aspects that make your products better and that your customers pay for. Standard components, such as a software platform, are things you can purchase from someone who has specialised in just that – and it is they who take responsibility for their function and maintenance.
A stable control system relies on a stable platform. A software platform is exactly like other software and hardware components: it has to be well-documented, thoroughly tested, and built for adaptability. If it fails in any of these areas you will have problems that will simply grow over time. And before you know it you will have – or rather lose – dissatisfied customers.
Software that is not tested will not work. Everyone knows this – yet many shut their eyes to this obvious truth. An engineer who can get his or her work verified quickly and correctly will be so much more productive. And you will avoid the nasty surprises that come when everything gets delayed. Relentless growth in the need for maintenance and product updates risks eating up your development capacity from within.
“Time and tide wait for no man” – the same could be said about a product’s lifetime on the market. The later a product comes onto the market, the shorter its lifetime there. The cost of lost sales is calculated as the number of months multiplied by the contribution margin (market price – production cost). This calculation is an unpleasant exercise for anyone that have experience of a development project gone wrong.
Loss of market shares Everyone knows that a product that comes late to market loses market shares. The general calculation is that a product’s market share drops by 2%-6% for every month the company lags behind its competitors. The exact size of the difference depends on a variety of factors.
More and more of your products’ properties are integrated in their software, and your company’s financial results are largely dependent on your development projects delivering on time, to correct specification, and within budget. The control system is a central part of your products. And in the future, a greater proportion of your competitiveness will be created there. For most companies, there are four different ways of driving this development.
You make quick progress, and you get low operating costs. The investment, on the other hand, is significant and control over functionality and forthcoming development is limited – as is your in-house competence growth.
Here you – or at least your developers – gain full control. The catch, apart from the time factor, is that your development resources will not be able to properly focus on customer value if at the same time they have to build and maintain generic software components.
This is really the same thing as building yourself, but at a higher cost and with lower in-house competence growth.
Here you can optimise your resources and let your in-house experts work with those aspects that generate customer benefit and profitability. You get better control over costs and can gradually build up your in-house competence, but you will probably have to change your working method.
At RT-Labs we are convinced that having a development partner is by far the most efficient option. That’s why we offer a fixed price and deliver with a warranty. If you share our vision of what efficiency and competitiveness are all about, then we already have a solid basis for a mutually beneficial partnership. Do get in touch and we’ll book a meeting to share the rest of our ideas on more efficient product development.