Developing a hardware product involves several different processes across a series of distinct stages. These stages ultimately become more complex and rigid the more mature the design becomes, due to the oversight needed and the number of contributors involved. This growing complexity often leads engineering teams to reassess their internal processes and seek out better tools to help manage these workflows.
One of the great challenges for hardware engineers and designers lies in getting all of their product’s component, part and assembly data into a central repository that will eventually become a Bill of Materials (BOM). While spreadsheets offer ease of use, they greatly lack the ability to identify and correct problems, track changes among team members and enforce industry standards. A more robust, centralized system, like a PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) software package is needed to better manage data.
A hardware product has discrete stages in its lifecycle from concept to completion, or more colloquially: from Cradle to Grave. Each of these stages has a purpose with its own set of goals and exit criteria. If not administered properly you greatly increase the risk of a less than successful product launch plagued with delays and budget overruns. In the worst case, you completely miss the market window and your chances of any success.