Upon completing the design of a new microchip, it was common practice to have an evaluation process that would establish whether or not the chip was to go into production, and what to look for as its limitations and special features, both from a manufacturing and a market acceptance viewpoint. In this particular company, the evaluation program was inconsistent and the portion that did exist was not adequately communicated amongst affected departments. A team was set up to find a solution for the unsatisfactory design evaluation process.
The team discovered that there was no defined process in the company for design evaluation–just a number of disjointed policies and procedures, some written, some not. So a first step was to define, refine, and document the design evaluation process for the company. During the solution, twenty-three concerns were addressed, put into five categories and appropriately prioritized. Thirty-one interim tasks were initiated and completed by team members to help arrive at a desirable solution. Over six months, thirteen meetings were held totaling about twenty-four hours of meeting time.
A flow chart was developed for Design Evaluation with ties into every relevant department in the company, accompanied by feedback loops, definitions of responsibilities, and personal accountability. Impact to the company over the next twelve months of having a satisfactory design evaluation process was estimated at no less than $312,000, with an upside in the millions.