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What are Your Collaboration Models with Us? What are Your Advantages from our Business Model?

Time to Read 13 min (Summary 2 min)

Since our launch in 2003, we have a clear model of how we cooperate with clients. We believe in collaboration and value creation networks. We are convinced that, over the life of the product, excellent development quality recoups its extra effort several times. In the areas where we operate, this lifetime can easily be ten or more years.

Four Fundamental Collaboration Models:
Classic/ Agile/ Co-Development/ Prime Contracting

You can use three models for your cooperation with us, each with its own advantages for you:

How do You Benefit from Our Business Model?

Investing in development and partnership in order to have fewer problems during the product life is not for everyone. If you think that only development cost are important, then there is no point in reading on.

If effort and cost over product lifetime (TCO: Total Cost of Ownership) are also important to you, then we have summarized here the basics of how we work with you, our business model:

Are you interested in an effective collaboration? Send me an email!

Collaboration Models

Classic with Agile Execution

At the beginning of the project we perform a System Design phase, in which we create together with you a detailed specification and in the system architecture we select the key components and concepts. This serves on the one hand as a basis for your development and on the other hand as a basis for an exact estimation of the development effort.

Then the product, respectively the software and/ or electronics are developed iteratively, i.e. after a first phase you will receive a new software version every month for you to test and give feedback on, in addition you receive typically about two to three hardware versions over the whole project duration.

At the end of the project, you get all data, including the specifications, which are continuously updated with the changes made during the project.

For you, this means:

  • You spend the effort and time at the beginning of the project to review and discuss the requirements, the specification
  • You then get an iterative ("agile") software version every month
  • You get a few hardware versions on which the software runs (if we develop the electronics for you)
  • You can adapt your requirements during the project based on these versions if necessary
  • You don't have to take care of the project management, we do that for you
  • You benefit from your initial specification effort by choosing the most efficient development methodology
  • You have the choice between a fixed price or a project on a time and material basis

Full Agile

At the beginning of the project, we take your requirements and other documents and base our initial system design on these documents. Then, for your design we make a rough estimation of the order of magnitude of the effort.

We iteratively develop the product, respectively the software and/or electronics, i.e. after a first phase you receive a new software version every month for testing and to give feedback. Every month we discuss with you the features and changes to be implemented in the next month. If these changes make it necessary, you also receive a new version of the electronics.

At the end of the project you receive all the data, including the specifications created during the project.

For you, this means:

  • You have no specification effort at the beginning of the project and you can steer the implementation of your requirements on a month-per-month base
  • You get iterative ("agile") software versions every month with exactly the features you have defined
  • You get iterative ("agile") hardware versions on which the software runs (if we develop the electronics for you)
  • You benefit from the possibility to develop your requirements from version to version
  • You don't have to take care of the project management, we do that for you

Co-Development

Our employees, our team are integrated into your development organization and get the tasks from your project management.

The documentation is done according to your specifications, if desired also according to our processes.

For you, this means:

  • You have direct access to "your" project team
  • You take over the project management of the whole project, we lead our sub-team

Prime Contracting incl. Manufacturing

We carry out the development for you, either Classic with Agile Execution or Full Agile. Then we also take over the production of your product as a prime contractor together with our partners. This can include just assembly of a printed circuit board, or additionally mechanical parts (housings, injection molded parts...), their assembly and ready-to-ship packaging.

For you, this means:

  •  You choose the development model that suits you best: Classic with Agile Execution if you already have a good idea of the requirements, Full Agile if you don't want to do the specification work at the beginning. Development then proceeds like this:
    • You get an iterative ("agile") software version every month
    • You get a few hardware versions on which the software runs
    • You can adapt your requirements during the project based on these versions if necessary
    • You don't have to take care of the project management, we do that for you
    • You have the choice between a fixed price or a project on a time and material basis
  • You do not have to worry about certifications, series production, tooling etc., we take care of that
  • You benefit from being able to easily call-off your finished product, according to a periodically defined production plan

To Accomplish Your Objectives: our Business Model

A couple reads tha map and points to the distance

No Vendor Lock-In: We want our Customers to Come Back for Quality, Not Because they Have To

There is a comparatively simple way for a supplier to reduce the largest cost block in development: vendor lock-in. Lock-in means that the costs saved in the first phase are recouped over the product's lifetime. Lock-in thus leads to hidden costs. Depending on the supplier, this can be in the form of an additional margin added to the product during production and/or by selling changes at inflated prices during the product's lifetime.

In product development, the prerequisite for becoming a "victim" of such a lock-in is that in the initial development contract, you do not secure all rights to all generated intellectual property. Your service provider is then the only one who can produce and customize the device. In addition, your service provider represents a commercial cluster risk for you, as it can be bought out or disappear altogether.

With us, all intellectual property always goes to the customer. You should come back because we have done a good job, not because you have no choice. And: "no lock-in" also leads to transparent cost of the product, you decide yourself if and how to pass on the development costs (NRE: Non-Recurring Engineering costs) to the product.

Competitors: When we work for you, then exclusively

Because a long-term, sustainable partnership with you is important to us, we do not work for your competitors. Unless you want us to, of course. As we are a medium-sized engineering company, it is not necessary for us to have several competitors as clients, another advantage of our size.

Zero-Cost-of-Ownership Warranty: 5 Years against Defects and Discontinuation

For developments of complete devices or software (classical or agile) we give a 5-year warranty after the pilot series on all errors of the specified behavior and on all end-of-life (obsolescence) cases of the components used. We adjust all our work results within typically one month from your notification.

The fine print: The warranty covers defect resolution, i.e. you get a new technical data package (TDP) for your production plus the updated software and hardware data and all related documentation. In order for us to have control over the quality, the warranty expires if you have changed something yourself or if you have chosen a lower quality than the one we proposed during development. In order for us to collect the required quality data for the series, we need a say on the validation and field test phase and access to results thereof.

Quality: Wetware plus Paperware

Quality is a basic principle of our actions, and we invest a lot into it. Particularly because we know that knowledge, i.e. our core competencies, is not just in our heads, but are stored in platforms, processes, checklists and templates.

Because technical competence is an organizational competence, not a personal competence. Organizational knowledge distinguishes us as an engineering company from recruiters who can only offer employee knowledge or experience. With us, the knowledge of the employees is exponentiated with the organizational knowledge, i.e. you get the organizational knowledge, our platform and process assets plus the experience of our employees.

Documentation & Configuration Management: More than Source Code...

We do not believe that source code and schematics are sufficient documentation for product maintenance. We believe in the importance of describing the product architecture and the chosen technical architecture separately, so that others can maintain the product. After all, if this information is only in people's heads, will it still be present in five years? Do you still know why you decided what five years ago?

A second important point seems to us to be that this documentation and, above all, the different versions for production fit together. This means that we operate a strict configuration management for all sources, documents, schemas, but also binaries and Gerber data etc.

Tired bulldozer heaps up earth

Frontloading: Do it When You Can, Not only When You HaveTo

For hardware development in particular, we are advocates of frontloading. Frontloading means using both the specialists (i.e. people) and the processes (i.e. rules, reviews...) early in the project, when many design variants can be weighed against each other with relatively little effort. Then, already the first prototype gets developed as series hardware, i.e. with all mechanical constraints, all measures for EMC (Electro-Magnetic Compatibility) and manufacturability. Of course, we do not push this to excess, for reasons of efficiency it does not make sense to really make all details "ready for series production". Therefore, there are usually a few changes for the second prototype and small adjustments for the pilot series.

We do this to prevent errors from the outset (the later an error is discovered, the more expensive it is to fix) on the one hand, and to minimize changes later in the development process on the other.

One effect of frontloading is that a lot of development, calculation and review effort goes into this first prototype. This can lead to nervousness of customers who are used to an approach with "rougher" prototypes, because from the customer's point of view "too much" effort and time is invested in the first prototype: "How do you want to reach the goals, if already the first round takes so long?".

In our experience, the advantages of frontloading outweigh the disadvantages, since already the very first prototype provides feedback on EMC, mechanical integration, industrial design, usability and manufacturability (design for manufacturing/design for test), and thus production readiness can be achieved with one or two additional iterations.

Also software can benefit from frontloading. As the cost of changes and defects increases less over the development cycle, the effect is smaller, which is exploited in "agile" development. Note that the effect of increasing bug fixing costs is only smaller, not zero!

Cross Industry Innovation: Transferring Solutions

We are asked a lot about which industries we work for, where we specialize. We don't think it would be an advantage to limit ourselves to one or a few industries. Maybe we could get into the projects a little more efficiently?

What would certainly be lost is the transfer of ideas between industries, cross industry innovation. Some solution, which is commonplace in one industry, is a real advance in another. For example, in household appliance software we have implemented control architectures that are standard elsewhere, but have resulted in a massive leap in performance here.

Networks: Work with the Best

We do not do anything that others can do better, in these cases we work together with other service providers or your specialists. This is because we believe that the most value can be created when specialists on projects join together in temporary networks to solve a specific problem.

This includes the principle that we are ready to work with the partners who have the best fit exactly for your project, not those with whom "we have always worked".

Hourly Rates: Simple Arrangements

We charge the same rates for project managers and engineers, for all experience levels, and for all functions, so we can put the work into your project and not into complicated billing schemes. We do this because:

  • ...our novices and beginners only bill 60% and 80% of their hours on client projects, respectively, which is equivalent to reduction in their hourly rate.
  • ...most project managers and architects also do developer work, which we do not want to overcharge you for.

The size of the order determines the rate, as large projects result in tighter planning and therefore higher overall capacity usage.

More information about the cost of development projects can be found also here.

From Birth of the Idea to Series Production: We Do It All

It is important for us to develop your products so, that your end customers like them and they can be produced efficiently. Not so that we have a particularly easy development phase. Therefore we are happy to take over your complete development up to the production launch, up to the zero series. If you wish, we can even take care of production and technical product maintenance according to the zero-cost-of-ownership model.

For you, this has the additional advantage that your own developers are not burdened with the admittedly sometimes not so funny industrialization and production launch phases. Phases that are left to internal developers with some other development strategies.

Do you have any other questions? If so, contact us directly or comment your thoughts below! I will then answer them here.

Are your ready for an efficient cooperation? Contact me!

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