What’s the difference between a customer/supplier relationship and a partnership?
In a word: Trust.
Sometimes it seems as if no one trusts anyone anymore, and it’s easy to see why. Most people involved in the embedded computing supply chain have a story to tell about some supplier who’s acted in a win–lose way, where it seems like they’re benefiting at your expense.
Although it’s easy to vilify suppliers who benefit from obsolescence, the truth is often more nuanced and generally not well understood. Perhaps you’re running a government program and feel unfairly forced by your sole-source prime contractor into an unbudgeted and expensive technology refresh; maybe you’re a prime contractor who feels forced by your customer to deliver them the “bad news” that an upgrade is required (despite repeated warnings that a critical board was at risk of being discontinued).
Or perhaps you’re an embedded-computer board OEM who was given very little notice that a critical microprocessor has been unexpectedly discontinued after the original component manufacturer was sold to another OCM, who decided the part was not “strategic” to the acquisition.
Despite the facts of a given situation, “perception is reality,” and customers often blame their supplier for a bad situation—taking the first opportunity to switch to another supplier. This is the situation that GDCA was conceived to avoid.
More than thirty years ago, we realized that electronic component obsolescence has a domino effect throughout the supply chain, causing problems from the board OEM all the way to the end user. As a result, we continue to refine win–win sustainment solutions whose goal has always been to delay or avoid forced upgrades. How do we do it?
By understanding and addressing everyone’s concerns, from board OEMs’ need to control the hidden costs of sustaining old designs while making a profit, to prime integrators’ need to feasibly support legacy systems, to end users’ readiness needs and funding constraints.
The benefits of this collaborative and information-based approach go way beyond our ability to provide ongoing support for old board designs. It is fundamental to establishing trust throughout the supply chain and gives everyone confidence that they’re being taken care of in a real and honest way.