Yesterday, I wrote about how much faster we can get things done in the prototype world than we could back when many of us were starting our careers. I mentioned that the decrease in time from weeks to days needed to respin a board and get a new prototype run completed is a double-edged sword, but I kind of only mentioned the benefits — time savings, cost savings, quicker time to revenue generation. I didn’t mention the downside.
I also didn’t really elaborate on another benefit — higher quality product. Instead of shipping product with PCBs riddled with mod wire, it’s fast and cheap to get new boards and new assembled prototypes built and tested. These additional test cycles allow for much more reliable product. It can even improve the quality of firmware — shorter time to get a working prototype built means more time to write and test software/firmware. It’s all good.
So, what is that second sword edge that I refer to?
Stress. Yes. Stress. Back in the days before email and electronic projectors and speedy prototypes, we could relax more. A color presentation generally had to be sent out to have color transparencies or 35mm slides made up. If the boss wanted changes, they had to be made a week or so ahead of time. Now, with electronic projectors, changes can (and are too often) made at 2 the morning before the big presentation.
Since I can build you a prototype in a day or so, now those marketing geeks can, and do, throw changes in just a few days before release to production. Everything has to get done faster and faster. I want it now! We enable faster turns so the expectations increase and then we enable even faster turns and the expectation increase that much more. It never stops.
Sorry. Sort of…