Software-Intensive Plant Systems Need Sound Acquisition Planning to Avoid Delayed Startups

July 1, 2003
Dedham, Massachusetts; -- Time-to-market (TTM) for a new product is a primary success metric in a broad range of manufacturing industries. Whether the

Dedham, Massachusetts; -- Time-to-market (TTM) for a new product is a primary success metric in a broad range of manufacturing industries. Whether the impetus is to capture more of existing demand, be the first to exploit a new market trend, beat competitors to market, access a new customer base, or simply to generate revenue from a new product idea, the ability to achieve rapid TTM is a key measure of success for manufacturers. Achievement of this goal is continually impacted, however, by delayed production startups caused by increasingly software-intensive plant systems.

Production Startups Directly Impact Time-to-Market

The complexity and sheer volume of software content in today's plant floor systems is increasingly impacting new product time-to-market. Mushrooming horizontal and vertical integration requirements driven by production-level scheduling, routing, tracking, quality, and regulatory systems, plus supply chain management, ERP, and other enterprise applications compound the issue. These escalating requirements are contributing to the need for Best Practices in Acquisition Planning for Software-Intensive Plant Systems, a new Best Practices study from ARC Advisory Group. This research was drawn from a survey of manufacturers and their system providers plus activities in government, academia, and industry. The survey related to the important and pivotal implementation of Best Practices in acquisition planning for software-intensive systems.

Non-Technical Factors Typically the Culprit

"The good news is that the preponderance of contributors to software failure are not technical in nature. This is in spite of the vast amount of hardware, software, and communications technology employed in today's production control systems. Instead, the methodology surrounding acquisition planning and execution is the leading determinant," said Chantal Polsonetti, Vice President with ARC Advisory Group and the lead analyst on this report. Non-technical contributors to the problem include poor, incomplete, or improperly managed requirements or planning, lack of user involvement, improper resource allocation, lack of executive support, and a host of internal and external communications issues. Consequently, manufacturers who focus their acquisition improvement efforts on technological factors alone, without regard to the acquisition process, are addressing only a small portion of the overall problem.

Shifting Dynamics between Users, OEMs, and Suppliers

Manufacturers' command of the technical aspects of the machines they buy for making their product is dwindling. While shrinking their corporate engineering staffs, they are increasingly relying on suppliers and outsourcing partners. Declining capital expenditure budgets and the power they can wield during negotiations are further eroding many manufacturers' ability to determine the specifications of incoming control systems.

The Need for a Sound Software Acquisition Planning Process

Implementing Best Practices in Acquisition Planning will help manufacturers avoid delays in new product startups for software-intensive systems and the associated Time-to-Market. Attention to the acquisition process, with particular focus on acquisition planning, requirements management, documentation, and auditing and testing will go a long way toward ensuring that changes to plant floor systems for new products meet their original requirements and are on-line in time. Further information on this Best Practices study can be found at:

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