How to choose the right technology partner for your Smart Electronic Interfaces (SEI) project

Introduction

In the current global business environment choosing the right business partners for your smart electronic interfaces (SEI) project may be one of the most important decisions you will make.

The right business partner will help you find innovative solutions that align to your needs and those of your customers, whilst helping you delivering your business objectives through a skilled and agile partnership.

Choosing the right SEI partner is just as important as choosing the right technology solution, you have to find an organisation with the right specialist technical background and someone whose values and vision are aligned with your organisation.

Here are and number of themes you should consider before making your final the selection of your preferred SEI partner.

1. Financial stability and sustainability

When you choose an SEI partner, you have to consider the potential risks associated with its financial performance. There are many resources available to you to make this assessment, they can be used to measure the financial standing and financial health of your potential suppliers to help you mitigate any risks.

You can learn more about common resources linked to this theme with this checklist of financial metrics to help you protect your company and your project.

Read: Why the financial stability and sustainability of your suppliers is important to your long-term business partnerships

2. Project Management

One of the most effective ways to ease unwanted pressure on your project is to allow your SEI partner to manage it throughout its entire lifecycle.

Choosing a business partner that is not only familiar with successfully delivering SEI projects, but one that utilises a PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) system will have a profound effect on the achievement of any desired project outcomes.

A fully integrated PLM system allows real-time control on all product data, leading to mitigation or avoidance of undesirable outcomes, a controlled reduction of risk, higher levels of product quality and a measurable cost reduction via optimised use of resources.

You can learn more about some benefits of successful project management here:

Read: A Quick Guide to Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

3. Specialist knowledge, skills and experience

Choosing a business partner with a broad array of demonstratable knowledge, skills and experience will make for a stronger partnership.

Understanding the scope of talent your partner can bring to your partnership is important. Choosing someone who can offer full-service of applicable skills, professional accreditations and critical advice on best business practice will be a strong influence on project outcomes.

A partner who can demonstrate a strong framework of Quality Assurance (QA), product testing and conformity is a strong way to ensure overall product quality is compliant against design.

4. Quality Assurance

Prevention is better than cure, your ideal partner should have a quality driven framework and strong quality management system (QMS) that ensures that all product is built according to the requirements and design specifications and that any variations to quality are monitored and controlled before release to customer.

5. Communication protocols

A critical element of any SEI project is that of communication protocols, your SEI partner should have demonstrable experiences in the application and management of different protocols such as:

  • LAN
  • 4G / 5G
  • WiFi radio
  • 868
  • LoRaWAN

Choosing an SEI partner that has this technical knowledge and experience will make sure your project will be implemented with performance and longevity in mind, furthermore choosing an SEI partner that also guarantees a communication protocol management service will safeguard your product at point of installation.

6. Supply Chain Management

Supply Chain Management (SCM) is an integral part of in delivering any successful project.

Your SEI partner should be able to demonstrate that they have full visibility and control of their supply chain, guaranteeing the highest levels of quality and stability to any products or services that they pass onto you as part of the project.

Potential partners who can demonstrate effective SCM may be more competitive in terms of quality, cost, delivery, safety, management and environmental impact; all themes that will be important to you, your project and your customer.

Your ideal SEI partner will be able to demonstrate full SCM which will in turn mark them as a secure choice with the framework for strong supply continuity, resilience and dependability across a short, medium- and long-term partnership.

7. Long term support for your products

From project initiation through to full implementation and beyond your SEI partner will need to be able to offer ongoing reactive support that moves with and adapts to the needs of your organisation.

To prevent the occurrence of SEI product downtime at the point of customer your ideal SEI partner will need to have the capacity for proactive and reactive maintenance at a local level backed up with the knowledge and resources of a global business (G-Local).

Your SEI partner should be able to supply ongoing product support services including but not limited to mechanical, electrical, functional compatibility and serviceability management; such as:

  • Transparent PCN (Product Change Notification)
  • Pro-active EOL (End-of-Life Notification)
  • Assured legacy support and backward compatibility design

In addition, the scope of your SEI partner services should include:

  • Custom-made Service Contracts
  • Products designed for preventive maintenance, with easy diagnosis of the faulty parts and effortless serviceability to reduce down-time and service costs

8. Organisational Knowledge

Cross-industry innovation is a way of thinking beyond the borders of your own product. It’s a crossbreed of technologies and innovations to enable firms and companies to boost the development of products, by using proven solutions from other industries that meet specific needs.

Your ideal SEI partner will have broad experience of SEI applications across multiple industries, cross-industry references and demonstrable experience is a platform your projects can be supported.

Have a cross-industry approach leads to recommendations from trusted business innovators and leaders and encourages forward-thinking and continual improvement.

When talented innovators share ideas and creativity across different sectors it lays the pathway to inspiration and success.

9. Design & Prototype development

Your ideal SEI partner will be an expert in applicable technologies, able to guide you through all the technical aspects of your products from technical specifications to feasibility. They will also be able to design and deliver a prototype, estimate risks and critical points within short timelines.

10. Manufacturing

Once product design is complete your ideal SEI partner will be able to work hand to hand with you to effectively deliver your product to customer.

If your potential SEI partner has in house manufacturing capability this additional control will reflect in an agile production plan with the potential for reduced costs, higher efficiencies, active risk management, higher productivity, reduced supply disruptions from suppliers and the ability to implement tailor-made solutions bespoke to your needs.

11. Value-engineering

Your ideal SEI partner will be able to demonstrate effective analysis of design features, systems, equipment, and material selections for the purpose of achieving essential functions at the lowest life cycle cost consistent with required performance, quality, reliability, and safety in order to maximise the customer’s perceived value.

12. Dedicated Project Manager

Your ideal SEI partner will be able to allocate a dedicated Project Manager (PM) to your project.

This individual will be involved in every step of the planning and execution of a project: from concept to design and production (NPI: New product introduction), monitoring that all goals are strategically aligned, communicating with all departments to have the support needed and planning and analysing progresses.

It is important to rely on an expert able to oversee any step of the design and productive/production process, and understanding the objectives of each step of the development chain.

Having a dedicated PM to run a project may seem like an unnecessary burden on the budget, however without a dedicated PM project outcomes are often exposed to chaotic management, unclear objectives, unrealistic planning, high risk, undesirable impacts to budget and delivery timing.

13. Scalability

Scalability is the ability to withstand the pressure of growth. Scalability and technology go hand to hand: provide services that match growing demand. This will ensure that as the volumes of your product increases it retains all its previous performance and reliability levels that your end customers have come to expect and rely upon.

Your ideal SEI Partner will be proficient and transparent in supporting a client’s scalability requirements, they will be able to provide evidence of past situations in which they have been able to maintain or even increase their level of performance or efficiency even when challenged by increasingly larger operational demands.

14. Agile capacity for change

Your ideal SEI Partner should be adaptable and flexible to necessary change and should be able to demonstrate this capability in an agile and controlled manner.

They must be able to meet the requirements of change assuring the original project objectives and strategies, through a product lifecycle management (PLM), are maintained.

Any unavoidable or essential changes within the project life cycle must be traceable, controlled, approved and within the scope of the project.

15. Problem-solving capacity

Ideally the embedded experience and organisational knowledge of your SEI Partner will be able to foresee concerns and mitigate them before they occur, however if any concerns do arise at any point your ideal SEI Partner will be able to demonstrate the capacity to identify and analyse complex problems, then design and implement effective solutions in timely manner.

Conclusion

To ensure its future success your organisation may be required to develop partnerships with external providers, as you have seen there are many elements to consider before a selection is made.

Your future technology SEI partner should not only support your technical and organisational needs but should also work with you to recommend how things can potentially be improved, to receiving feedback and how to implemented innovative solutions into your business operations.

GDS Display Solutions is a market leader in the design, production, sale, installation and field service of SEI and Digital Out of Home (DOOH) products in line with customer requirements, for use in the marketing, transportation sectors and other applications as appropriate.

To discover more about GDS and how we measure against ideal traits detailed in this article please visit our website.

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WHY THE FINANCIAL STABILITY AND SUSTAINABILITY OF YOUR SUPPLIERS IS IMPORTANT TO YOUR LONG-TERM BUSINESS PARTNERSHIPS
Why the financial stability and sustainability of your suppliers is important to your long-term business partnerships
A QUICK GUIDE TO PRODUCT LIFECYCLE MANAGEMENT
A Quick Guide to Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)