When designing a new product with strict marketing deadlines, no one wants to be delayed by rules, regulations, and compliance standards. Such restrictions stunt creativity and lower team morale. But here’s the deal: your product isn’t going to market until it passes the compliance process.
You’re doing yourself a disservice if you operate in a reactionary manner – correcting problems found during process – rather than planning and preventing them during design. Ultimately, that reactionary process costs you time and money, and potentially negates any competitive advantage you may have held over your competition.
Gordon Hurst, the founder and CEO of MiCOM Labs, Inc., is an expert in wireless technology. Having been involved with product development and global regulatory compliance from both the manufacturing and testing perspectives for the last 25 years, Gordon knows the industry inside and out.
Over the next few weeks, Gordon will be delivering a series of 11 blog posts titled Designing for Compliance. This series will outline the benefits, procedures, risks, etc. of designing a product with compliance regulations integrated during design, rather than the typical afterthought.
Compliance can be used to accelerate time-to-market in wireless product development.
Consider Company A:
A well-known global wireless communications company, Company A, was ready to announce its new platform of radios for wireless network interconnection. The engineering was adept, producing a platform of products in multiple frequencies that featured innovations set to outperform similar equipment on the market. Projections from marketing determined that the product was a good year ahead of the competition. Plans were made to send each product to the lab for testing against product-specific standards for compliance certification. It was at this point that Company A learned that globally recognized standards did not yet address the product’s technology for spectrum use and efficiency. Testing could not begin until standards were revised. The company launched an aggressive lobbying of the standards bodies and eventually placed the product on the market—nine months later.
It is an understatement to say that today’s global market for electronics and communications products are competitive. Multiple suppliers are vying for opportunities. Simultaneously, product life cycles are shortening due to accelerated innovation with consumers wanting the latest and greatest. For businesses to succeed in this environment of compressed windows for revenue generation, it is as important to release products quickly as it is to deliver technical excellence.
As with Company A in the case study above, product compliance is often viewed as a project step occurring near the end of the product development process. As shown, however, the attention given to compliance issues early directly affects a company’s ability to meet schedules for timely product delivery.
In addition, market surveillance inspections—the practice in many countries of performing random compliance checks on products being sold—are intensifying. Ensuring that products meet compliance standards throughout a product’s entire life cycle is essential.
Consider Company B:
Company B’s wireless system had completed a full suite of compliance testing and was certified in many countries. At some point during the system’s life cycle, an oscillator vendor decided to change a specification, introducing faster rise times. Engineers were delighted with the change, as component counts reduced and reliability increased. Management was similarly happy with the obvious cost reductions. The system change was implemented, and the product continued to ship globally. Some months later, however, a potential client discovered that harmonics generated as a result of the faster rise times caused the system to fail radiated emission limits. Needless to say, the potential client purchased equipment from the competition.
Situations such as those described in these brief case studies for Company A and Company B give evidence that it is imperative to understand, consider, work within, and plan for product compliance from the very earliest stages of product development and throughout the life of the product. Such devastating situations underscore the need for a design for compliance program, which would be implemented through an effective compliance management plan. These scenarios also emphasize that the compliance program must be an integral part of the product design cycle—not a separate or follow-along plan.