Technology solution providers are constantly faced with three high-level objectives: decreasing time to market, increasing efficiencies, and mitigating deployment risk. We have addressed time to market and efficiencies in previous blogs and would like to change our focus to mitigating risk. Given the time, effort, and resources utilized for all other activities, why take chances with your most powerful possession: your brand? Let's review a few of the areas that a strategic system integration partner can help to bridge gaps and reduce risk in the process.
Flexible inventory management and strong forecasts reduce risk
Many customers appreciate the flexibility that a strategic system integration partner can provide in the areas of supply chain, inventory management, and build to forecast activities. Given the current climate of long lead times on specific components, a partner can help mitigate the risk of having the rights parts and systems available to meet end-user demand and service level agreements. They offer expertise and strong relationships to do everything they can to meet requirements while also providing insight into market shifts and demand changes. And they may offer enhanced buying power depending on their level of partnership and diligence in this area.
Flexible inventory management is also an essential aspect of managing risk. Consider a partner that enables you to build to stock to ensure orders can be shipped in just a few days while enjoying the financial benefits of flexible terms. A strong forecast minimizes a majority of the risk associated with long lead times and part availability. Others prefer to build to order but are at the mercy of lead times to meet customer demand. The point is that there are options that can be weighed to determine the best route for your business.
Some partners offer a proof of concept and eval pool management program. This type of scenario enables you to demonstrate or offer customers the opportunity to evaluate your solution on thoroughly tested equipment that can be returned and reworked for the subsequent request. A positive "out-of-box" experience is key to the success of your brand. In short, this scenario enables your team to meet specific customer requests with a manageable pool of equipment that can be remanufactured to the original state and reused.
Robust lifecycle management is essential
Lifecycle management is essential to servicing and growing your solution. A partner should assess your total solution to optimize and streamline all aspects of the deployment, from solution design to support and maintenance. In addition, with visibility into partner's roadmaps, they should design with long-life parts, motherboards, and chassis to minimize development costs. When parts become obsolete, forcing a re-design, your partner should work to ensure that the highest levels of backward compatibility are designed into the system through regression testing. This approach ensures you receive the highest benefit in maintaining control over hard costs in the supply chain and soft costs that arise in developing, deploying, and supporting solutions worldwide.
A foundation of quality reduces risk
Building on quality platforms from providers like Dell Technologies and Intel is the first step in ensuring high-value, reliable solutions. However, there are so many other areas along the way that could quickly diminish profits and your reputation.
Quality needs to be a key aspect throughout the manufacturing process to ensure solutions are completed on time and error-free. Each system's design and manufacturing requirements should be recorded and locked down to ensure repeatability and consistency. Control systems should also be utilized throughout the manufacturing process to ensure each step aligns with exact build requirements and ensure the right components and firmware are installed. Test plans are then completed and electronically verified. This process-driven approach minimizes risk by ensuring consistency from the first build to the last. And if a change is required along the way, it can quickly be addressed and recorded to maintain visibility and consistency.
Look toward Edge computing
Other core-driven computing trends like AI and ML are growing in importance. However, a key imperative to these technologies is capturing large volumes of data. That's where edge computing will become crucial because nowhere is it easier to gather fresh, relevant, and plentiful data than at the edge. Therefore, while AI and ML are currently centralized functions, look for their processing to move outward to edge-based platforms.
Global trade compliance begins in the design phase
Scaling globally and offering your solution to markets worldwide requires expertise in trade compliance to honor trade regulations and minimize the risk of facing the costly consequences of noncompliance. In the US, the Export Administration Regulations act governs the proper classification of military, civilian, and dual-use items. Its purpose is to ensure that products leaving the country, including technology, will go to the proper end-users and be used for their intended purposes.
In addition to US bodies governing exports, each importing country also has trade regulations and penalties. Customs officials in foreign countries may assess fines, hold, or block shipments due to a breach of protocol or insufficient documentation. Even the most efficient deployments can come to a halt when trade laws are not followed.
When it comes to trade compliance, your best solution is prevention. Compliance begins in the design phase, ensuring that you meet the regulatory requirements of the countries you plan to conduct business. A strategic system integration partner should provide a team of experts that understands both the specific regulations and compliance requirements of the countries to which you export. They should also maintain relationships with shipping partners to ensure that all the proper documentation is completed and submitted correctly to avoid delays and fines.
Mitigate risks with a systems integrator
As you can see, deploying your solution has multiple vectors of risk that can quickly diminish profits. Your organization has developed an innovation that will improve the way we work and live. Why leave its deployment to chance? The ideal systems integration partner has your back and will anticipate and solve problems before they arise. Check out UNICOM Engineering's guide to What to Look for In a Systems Integration Partner to learn more.
Customers who take advantage of UNICOM Engineering's comprehensive suite of services can minimize risk and streamline the process from design to integration, logistics, support, and beyond. Contact us for more information by visiting our website and scheduling a consultation.