Now, more than ever, we have to rely on our PCB partners to help with new product development. Back in the day, OEMs would have their own PCB fabrication houses and could develop new technologies in those houses or—in some cases—departments. Most, if not all, are gone, and that leaves companies who use PCBs to rely on their vendors to work on advanced technologies that new products need.
A great deal of trust and confidence in our PCB vendors is required to create and fulfill this type of fruitful partnership. You must be able to confide in your PCB vendor to have a trusting relationship that is crafted over years of doing work together. A true partnership allows for a transparent relationship between you and your PCB vendor.
Here are the eight things that must be in place to have a successful R&D relationship with your PCB partner.
1. The Right Capabilities
Are they the right vendor in terms of capability and technology? Are they going to be able to reach the levels of technology that you need? Do they have the engineering horsepower to take you to the next level? Do they have the quality controls, equipment, and financial backing to be able to accompany you on your journey to the future?
Have you had experience with their experts before? Have they worked on future technology projects with you or any other companies like yours? Have they been good working partners in the past?
When you develop new technology products, time is of the essence, as is secrecy. If you have developed a good partnership with your PCB vendor, you should be okay, but you must make sure. You are putting the future of your company into the hands of your PCB supplier, so you had better be able to depend and rely on them to do the right thing for you.
Keep one another informed about what each other are doing. Hold regular meetings and keep records of those occurrences. Talk to each other at all times. In the end, a breakdown in communication is always a key ingredient in the breakdown of a partnership.
Team chemistry is key. You have to like the people you are working with since you are going to be spending a great deal of time with them on whatever project you are working on. Always work with people who are willing to give as much as they take in a fair and equal partnership. Ensure that you have each other’s back at all times.
6. Mutual Learning
Remember that the true definition of a partnership is one where two parties get together and accomplish something that neither of them could do alone.
In a true partnership, there is no keeping score of who did what for whom. Instead, you have to allow one another to be generous with your time, resources, talent, experience, and—most importantly—people. You should both be focused on achieving the goal and getting where you want to go whether it is a new technology or process or winning a program from a customer that you are seeking as cooperative partners.
8. Wealth Sharing
If there are patents to be applied for, or if there is going to be some ownership of the product or technology you are going to develop together, there has to be some sharing of the rewards that come from that. From the beginning, you must be willing to share the results of the projects. Most importantly, you have to make it clear. Both parties must understand whose name will be on the patents, if there are any, or how the funds will be split if there is financial gain to be had. This should all be decided at the start of the partnership. This will save you from many headaches and heartaches in the future, not to mention avoiding lawsuits, as well.
Remember that while R&D projects are always exciting at the beginning, they can end in misery and unhappiness if you don’t follow these simple guidelines. And what does this all boil down to? The number-one rule of business and life—the golden rule, which states, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Anaya Vardya is president and CEO of American Standard Circuits. Vardya is also co-author of The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… Fundamentals of RF/Microwave PCBs and Flex and Rigid-Flex Fundamentals. Visit I-007eBooks.com to download these and other free, educational titles.