Value Proposition


Business is predicated on providing value to the customer, but it does not end there. The business itself needs to see value in the work, so this is really a value chain that is only as strong as the weakest link.  If the value to the customer is too low or not existing, no customers will purchase the product.  If the value to the business from the product is too low, there will be no investment

What is value

Value is the difference between the utility received and the cost for things.

Value = Utility – Cost

Value = Benefit – Cost

The utility may be customer dependent, but this must be understood, as this will drive the subsequent work. Not knowing what the customer values, clouds how we approach the work.  We will write more about the conundrum later.  It suffices to say no value to the customer means no value to the business, … Continue reading

Expectations of Contractors and Engineers

Expectations of Contractors and Engineers Written by Steven G. Lauck & Jon M. Quigley

To ensure the team is working from the same set of expectations, we may develop a document or set of documents that describe those expectations. The work below may help you set up your own documentation on the expectations you have of your team and reciprocally what they will have of you.

The file below is found as a download here.

I. Focus Areas Customer/Supplier Orientation

Understand who your customers are and how well your products and services are meeting their needs. Adopt the posture of evaluating the quality and value of your services periodically as a basis for continual improvement.


Be a master of the position functions and establish yourself as a resource to others. Know what your products and services are and strive to be best in delivering them.  Epitomize continuous learning and bring that to your work life.


Support our … Continue reading

The Perpetual Cost Reduction

Cost improvement activities are part of many if not all organizations.  In the automotive industry, these cost improvement targets can have an annual schedule. That is, we can expect pressure from the customer to reduce the cost of the product to them every year.  Immediately after launch we are able to hit these targets.  We can improve our production processes with the things that we have learned over the year since the start of production.  If we have a continuous improvement mentality at our company, we perhaps find this not so difficult a challenge.  However, as we continue to provide the product to the customer this annual cost reduction can seriously erode our ability to make the product and remain profitable. After 5 years, at 6% annual reduction in cost, we can expect to have more than 20% reduction in the product cost to the customer.  The margins from the start of the product are often not so high that … Continue reading

CMMI makes Project Management Easier – Scope

CMMI and Project Management

There are intersections between Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) and project management beyond the specific or obvious project management areas listed below in the staged representation:

Project Planning is Level 2 Project Monitoring and Control Level 2 Risk Management Level 3 Quantitative Project Management Level 5

There are other non-obvious intersections between CMMI and project management.  Consider requirements management and requirements development for example. We submit that CMMI makes project management easier.   Let us first look at requirements management and the connection to project management.

Requirements Management

This is a set of processes (in staged representation level 2) that we will use to evoke and understand the customer needs.  These are in level 2 because these are fundamental to success.  The specific goal is to ensure the requirements are managed and inconsistencies between project plans and work products are identified [CMMI].  Requirements are the detailed incarnation of the project scope. Poor requirements understanding will mean … Continue reading

Scrum and Merged Roles

Is it okay to merge scrum team roles, for example can the scrum master also be the product owner. Our experience suggests, merging the roles of the team members in scrum is not a good solution. Besides a dilution of focus, there is a compromise in objectivity.

Off Topic – Family

This blog is usually about technical topics and product development and learning focused. Today is different. Today I am going to write about something that has been on my mind for many weeks now, though I am not very good at expressing.  That uneasiness of expressing has contributed to my starting and stopping with this post.  However, given this time of year, and my many blessings, of which people are significant, I felt compelled to follow through.

In July of this year (2015), I was called by one of my high school friends and informed that his dad had died.  I have been thinking on this blog post since his death and the funeral at which I was a pall bearer.  I had not returned to where I grew up too frequently, in fact it has probably been more than a decade.  Life, work and other family obligations kept me from going home.  However, over the years my mind would … Continue reading

Scrum Stage Gate

We have long taken the position that a discussion of scrum and conventional project methods should not be combative or mutually exclusive.  Both of these approaches have something to offer.  Each has strengths that when mapped to your organization and situation, can improve your chances of a successful project delivery.  It is even possible to merge agile into a conventionally conducted or stage gate project.

Consider a stage gate project that consists of:

product development hardware product development software manufacturing aftermarket and service systems integration suppliers verification and test

The sequence of events or gate phases looks like:

Looking at the distribution of talent (some call this human resources) we may find a group of our project participants co-located, this provides is with a clue, perhaps some part of the project work can use agile techniques.

In the stage-gate approach, we often know what the anticipated end results for the gate.  We know this at the beginning (in as much … Continue reading

The General (Management) Blames the Troops

Management and Responsibility

It is rare indeed when the general blames the soldier for the loss.  We see it though.  Of course, I am not referring to actual generals as in the military but the leadership of an organization.  There are many ways the leadership influences the outcome more than a single or couple of employees.

Management and Talent

Managers are responsible for the hiring for the organization, coupled with the Human Resource Department.  There is likely a screening of sorts, perhaps even multiple screenings as part of the interviewing process to ensure we select the best candidate. Perhaps panel screenings, drug tests, domain experience tests, and many other ways to determine the interviewee is suitable for our organization.


Management and Organizational Culture

Managers and the executive leadership establish the culture for the organization, also influenced by the hiring.  Perhaps they want an organization with a strong basis on facts.  Perhaps the company values political tact over plain speaking.  … Continue reading

Deviations versus Change Requests

The deviation does not originate from the supplier. The change to requirements is permanent. Continue reading

Right Manufacturing

Successful product development requires, ultimately, the delivery through manufacturing. After all, we are most likely for profit entity, and even if we were not for profit, in our effort to maximize our resource usage we should act as if we were a for profit.  Specifically, we do not squander our available resources. 

Mass production has many approaches, depending upon quality desired, and volume of parts to be produced as well as product and development cost constraints.  Selecting a manufacturer with a variety of possibilities is important, as it is then possible to explore the most promising method for the production run of this product.  Cultivating a relationship with such a supplier, makes it possible to bring your developed product to fruition quickly, and expediently to market.  It is not in your best interest to wait or stand idle. One such example of this type of supplier found at:

 We will write more about these alternatives in subsequent blogs.

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