Leverage Geographically-Distributed Development

Mike Miranda is a writer concerning topics ranging from Legacy modernization to Application life cycle management, data management, big data and more. He’s had over 70 articles published in 2015 by many reputable tech sites.

Global-Networks

An impressive IT strategy model known as Geographically-Distributed Development or GDD, is becoming a valuable ally for businesses in industrialized nations all over the world. GDD is taking the place of archaic business methodologies that utilize one or multiple project sites, resulting in minimized efficiency and compromised success.

In order for GDD to operate at full-potential, substantial hindrances must be eradicated or maximally reduced within the GDD strategy. Businesses embedded in a globally-distributed market possess inherent and significant expenses associated with communication and coordination logistics. Businesses must find strategies that will combat those costs since they can oppose the very benefits GDD provides. On-going challenges include cultural and language differences as well as staff having little or no access to information that must be presented in a timely fashion to meet deadlines. All these issues endanger the success of distributed projects.

An Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) solution enables companies to successfully manage and enhance the breadth and quality of communication for all stakeholders in the change process. Challenges embedded in geographically-distributed environments are to be reckoned with, and include: language boundaries, cultural differences, dissimilar software-development methods, change-management requisites, security enforcement, adaptations regarding industry protocol, and client business mandates. The ALM solution very effectively meets these crucial areas.

Companies can establish clear, repeatable, measurable and traceable processes based on best practices due to the simplicity ALM offers during every stage of application development. Point-and-click functions allow users to very easily create a portfolio of authorized processes which can automate assigned tasks and the movement of application artifacts.

Change management becomes simplified due to ALM’s streamlining regarding changes and required actions, enabling changes to be scrutinized and prioritized. The approval management functions demand that official verification be staunchly in place prior to any changes moving forward. ALM’s tracking of software changes are performed with ease by way of the ALM’s automated logging functions. Changes can be traced starting with a request being received up to a solution being presented to production.

Staff within the global development team would be notified of any assigned tasks as well as circumstances that could impact their efforts.

As the enterprise becomes increasingly interlinked, changes occurring in one system can also impact other systems. ALM’s multi-platform support means changes made on desperate platforms, among geographically-distributed teams, can travel through the application lifecycle, compatibly and collectively. A BOMP, or Bill of Materials Processor, serves as an on-board feature purposed to generate file portfolios that combine features from multiple platforms. As a result, file portfolios can to travel through the lifecycle as a combined unit. Also, various ALM solutions guarantee that parts integrated into the assemblies are situated within the corresponding platforms during every phase of the lifecycle.

General project plans must satisfy deadlines while enforcing accountability for agreed-upon deliveries. The ALM solution meets a variety of specific needs including: 1) tracking and verifying tasks and processes 2) ensuring assignments are properly performed and 3) assisting with meeting Service Level Agreement (SLA) demands within an outsourcing contract. Assigned tasks to developers are flawlessly coordinated with tasks that are a part of a project plan; and this optimizes the tracking of targeted achievements. An additional ALM feature allows reports to be generated which dependably track response and resolution times. Service level workflows provide flexibility and automate service processes. In turn, this results in a quickening of processes to respective resources which helps meet project deadlines. An assortment of reports and dashboards efficiently track performance with service level agreements.

Reaping the full benefits of GDD means the caliber of communication and coordination must be enhanced. When this takes place, management strategies can be utilized to deal with obstacles that can compromise a company’s level of success. ALM’s centralized repository presents ideas, designs, dialogue, requirements, tasks and an array of other information at one’s fingertips. Development processes and tasks are automated, coordinated and monitored via ALM’s workflow capabilities with every bit of intellectual property being vitally protected within the central repository. Project management is impressively synchronized due to local and remote software development that is highly coordinated. Cohesiveness regarding monitoring, tracking, auditing of reports, and dashboards all function together, seamlessly, to satisfy crucial deadlines. ALM caters to organizations where mission-critical solutions meet mission-critical needs, head on!

Strategies for Reducing Warranty Costs

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Warranty obligations represent both an expense and a liability to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). As a result, anything that an OEM can do to minimize warranty expenses and liabilities will have a significant impact on the balance sheet and bottom line. In the high-tech industry, warranty coverage often includes repairing defective products as opposed to crediting or replacing them. Warranties of this nature involve three (3) cost components: 1) Warranty Terms & Conditions, 2) Service Delivery, and 3) Product Reliability and Maintainability.

Service Delivery represents the largest of these three components and comprises approximately two-thirds of warranty costs. Approximately 55% of service delivery costs are attributed to repair activities. The remaining 45% of costs are evenly distributed between parts, logistics, and overhead (e.g., customer service, IT, etc.).

Among the three (3) different categories of warranty costs, service¬–delivery costs are the most difficult to manage and improve. By comparison, costs associated with warranty terms and conditions and product reliability and maintainability are easier to manage. OEMs can reduce warranty expense and liabilities by adjusting terms and conditions to make them more favorable from a cost-burden perspective. OEMs can also design and engineer better products thus reducing product reliability and maintainability costs. In addition, the time frame and investment required to plan and implement these types of improvements are smaller when compared to service delivery. On the other hand, these improvements may have a limited life span. In other words, an OEM needs to revisit terms and conditions as well as product reliability and maintainability issues with every new product release.

In contrast, a significant amount of time and investment is required to improve costs associated with service delivery. For example, it may take months or years of planning and hundreds of thousands of dollars of investment to realize service-delivery cost savings. However, the improvements are sustainable over a longer period of time because they don’t just affect costs associated with one-time product launches. Instead, they benefit subsequent product launches over a multi-year period.

The reason it takes more time to implement and greater investment to achieve cost savings in the area of service delivery is because it typically requires improvements in processes, infrastructure, and people (i.e., training). Examples of the types of strategies for reducing service delivery costs include but are not limited to:
Automating warranty claims-management processes to reduce warranty processing costs
Improving call management procedures to validate entitlement, troubleshoot and diagnose calls remotely, and avoid costly field service visits
Implementing dynamic scheduling software to improve field-engineer productivity and reduce travel costs
Adopting a Variable Workforce (VWF) model to lower field-service and associated overhead labor costs
Utilizing knowledge-management tools to improve resolution times, reduce No Fault Found rates, increase first time fix rate, and improve labor efficiency
Implementing advanced planning and forecasting tools to optimize spare parts stock levels and reduce inventory costs
Making it easier for field engineers to identify, locate and order spare parts thereby improving service efficiency and avoiding repeat calls due to lack of parts

In summary, the challenges associated with reducing service-delivery costs should not prevent a company from making the necessary systemic and procedural improvements since the gains in cost savings, service productivity, operating efficiency, and customer experience can be significant.