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First in, Best Dressed ...

We look back fondly to when we were fresh faced, would be engineers. Nothing fazed us. We were invincible, adept at facing anything our professors set before us. Attending lectures by day, juggling multiple course projects by night – and even managing to squeeze in a visit or three to the campus bar! No doubt many of us have attended a class reunion in some shape or form since leaving university or college.

The thing about reunions is that apart from catching up with your former classmates, we also get to trade a varied and oft-amusing collection of stories. Adventures and exploits since graduation, as well as reminiscences from days gone by. "Remember that chap with the photographic memory . . . used to be woken up in lectures, and give the correct solution to the design problem every time!"

One such story that may be familiar (almost an urban legend among engineers) is the one where someone has been beaten to market by a competitor who was developing the very same product as them (slightly different functionality, so not a rip off) with both companies identifying and racing to fill a perceived market segment.

The reason for this defeat? Not a lack of ingenuity or design flare, nor even a nonchalant approach to design deadlines. Rather a lack of effective and secure data and release management in place at a company. If only that last minute rush amendment to the design had not come in. If only the fab house had received the true and updated set of Gerber files. If only the assembly house had received the latest bill of materials, and not the one dated two weeks prior. If only the company had a better data management system in place.

All of course can be rectified ... eventually. But the costly mistake in incorrect data sent to the manufacturer loses a company its advantage. No amount of marketing prowess, nor a fondness for the good old days when life was simpler, can make up for the momentum that is gained by having your product out in the marketplace first.

Jason Howie, senior technical writer, Altium.

Jason Howie

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