Alyssa Sittig's Blog (24)

Bringing the next hardware startup renaissance

Silicon Valley is home to so many software startups, from giants like Facebook and Google in the South Bay to Twitter, Zynga and Salesforce in San Francisco. There seems to be a new app, social network or cloud tool emerging every day.

But software startups don't have all the fun. 

Even though software startups outnumber hardware startups in the Valley, new technologies are opening the door for a hardware startup renaissance. Take the popularity of …


Added by Alyssa Sittig on August 16, 2012 at 12:00pm — No Comments

Optimize your designs with the innovation BOM

Product development is never as easy as going from “What's the market solution” to “what's the engineering design”  - there are many decisions in the middle that need to be made around the general design, tech requirements, and main components. (For example - - How’s the chassis going to come together, what’s the power supply, how is it going to communicate?)

You probably use Excel for this. At many companies, or on startup teams, you might even find yourselves sitting around in a…


Added by Alyssa Sittig on June 6, 2012 at 6:15pm — 1 Comment

Two rules for rolling revisions up the tree

So, in response to the blog post from yesterday, here are two rules that could guide how component revisions impact assembly-level revisions. This is a tricky call to make because if you always let minor changes to low-level parts trigger new revisions  to your top-level product assemblies (and all the intervening  sub-assemblies), you end up…


Added by Alyssa Sittig on May 17, 2012 at 1:28pm — No Comments

Should a new component revision trigger a new assembly revision?

At Arena, we work with a lot of high-tech electrical-hardware engineers and OEMs. In our thousands of conversations with prospects and customers, here is one of the most common questions we get - - if you revise a component used in your designs, or swap it out for a totally different component, how far up does that revision need to go?

This is sort of a tricky question to answer with some major…


Added by Alyssa Sittig on May 15, 2012 at 3:30pm — 1 Comment

Are you using 3D rendering to speed prototyping?

I have been hanging out a lot with a friend (let's call her Michelle) who is in the middle of prototyping - - let's just say I am frequently reminded how difficult it is to actually turn an idea into a physical product.

(That particular skill isn't…


Added by Alyssa Sittig on March 28, 2012 at 3:30pm — No Comments

What's better? A formal or an informal change process?

There's a lot of give and take when it comes to setting up a change process, and a lot of factors that determine if your process should be highly formalized, or loosely managed.

A loose change process, where individual engineers have the discretion to either expedite change requests or make immediate revisions, exposes your product to unintended consequences - - including costly scrap and rework at best and field failures at worst. But excessive review slows down the iterative process…


Added by Alyssa Sittig on March 15, 2012 at 5:00pm — No Comments

Five ways to prepare your business to scale

I wanted to share this cool infographic from the Arena Blog - 5 ways you can prepare your business to scale. This seems to be focusing mostly on how you can prepare as a hardware company (product data, operations/engineering focused) but I think it's a nice check list for anyone involved with bringing a product to market.…


Added by Alyssa Sittig on February 29, 2012 at 11:21am — No Comments

What could you do with a Google for electronic parts?

One of the biggest stressors of putting together a protoype (in my eyes) is finding all the parts you need, getting the datasheets, etc, etc, and building that first draft of the BOM. If it's at least easy to find the parts you're looking for, with information on multiple distributors, it makes the job a bit easier.


To that end, I want to share a new tool I have caught wind of, as part of my work at…


Added by Alyssa Sittig on February 21, 2012 at 12:59pm — No Comments

How engineering contributes to new product introduction

I just wrote a post on the Arena Blog about big picture questions to ask when launching a new product.

Answering these questions (what is the overall expected revenue, are there additional headcount needs, etc) is often the job of C-level and VP folks - but these aren't the only contributors…


Added by Alyssa Sittig on January 25, 2012 at 2:00pm — No Comments

Choosing a part numbering scheme? Here are 3 things you should consider

If you've been tasked with creating a part numbering scheme, I would like to share my condolences . . part numbering schemes are no fun. In my opinion, they are one of those things you just want to work.

There have been a couple of pieces written by my coworker on the Arena Blog about part numbering (…


Added by Alyssa Sittig on January 11, 2012 at 6:30pm — 3 Comments

What are you doing to manage changes in 2012

If you're working for a large, established company, your engineering change process may have been set in stone for as long as you can remember.

But if you're working for a smaller company, maybe the way changes are managed depends on who's involved, the…


Added by Alyssa Sittig on January 2, 2012 at 11:21am — No Comments

The pros and cons of intelligent part numbering

There was a time when everyone was so impressed by intelligent part numbering schemes that choosing to adopt one was a no-brainer.

But things have changed. If you're growing quickly with a wide variety of parts, or have a globally dispersed or complicated manufacturing process, intelligent part numbering could actually be a difficult system to maintain as you grow.

If you're trying to decide if it's right for you, here are a few pros and cons of intelligent part…


Added by Alyssa Sittig on December 27, 2011 at 9:30am — 4 Comments

Engineers - making the world sexier one gadget at a time

I don't know if you've noticed this, but some really innovative products are starting to hit the market that are aimed at improving health, fitness, and sexiness. While a lot of technology - cars, microwaves, electric toothbrushes - makes us lazier, these products are designed to get people up off their butts, and out into the real world.

Here are a few of the most innovative ones I've seen. (…


Added by Alyssa Sittig on December 21, 2011 at 12:30pm — No Comments

Excel BOMs - Tips for cleaning 'em up!

I would imagine most engineers tend to be pretty  . . .let's say fastidious . . when it comes to managing their spreadsheets and product data. So perhaps keeping a clean spreadsheet is a no-brainer. 

But the BOM is a very unique spreadsheet, and one that gets shared all around the organization. There are a ton of people who input into the BOM, and a lot of things the BOM must keep track of. So it's not surprising that it can quickly become a disorganized mess. (Color-coding, lack of…


Added by Alyssa Sittig on December 13, 2011 at 12:30pm — 1 Comment

Why is Engineering Change Management so Hard?

A good friend of mine . . .  who shall remain nameless . . . . just got out of a "come to Jesus" meeting because a major change to an important fixture in their product was missed. Not a good day to be him . . .

It's scary to admit, but missing a poorly documented change can happen to anyone (to a varying degree of severity). It all comes down to your processes, and how tightly you're managing changes to your product with ECO/ECRs.

Obviously, working at Arena has convinced me…


Added by Alyssa Sittig on November 10, 2011 at 3:11pm — 2 Comments

Do engineers consider supply chain risk when looking for parts

A recent Chainlink survey revealed that 45% of companies devote less than $50,000 each year to  “assessing and auditing supplier and supply chain risk," which went right…


Added by Alyssa Sittig on November 8, 2011 at 5:18pm — 2 Comments

Could open-design hardware ever replace proprietary design?

I always enjoy reading the musings of my company's CTO, Eric Larkin. I found his most recent post about open-design hardware particularly interesting.(Not to mention, I appreciated the throw-back to the days of HeathKits.) Essentially, his latest post posed the question: Will…


Added by Alyssa Sittig on November 3, 2011 at 12:12pm — No Comments

Is minimum viable product design a viable solution for hardware designers? A little while ago I met with Arena CTO Eric Larkin to discuss the minimum viable product design model and tips for implementing it into your product design process. (Full recap of the subject matter here.)


I've been thinking about it since then, and wondered if this is a model that could work for hardware designers, as it has been really effective for us (a software…


Added by Alyssa Sittig on October 24, 2011 at 12:34pm — 1 Comment

Three tips for building better BOMs

For product-based companies, a bill of materials (BOM) is the best place to maintain product data, and create a record of truth that all key players can access when designing, manufacturing and even marketing the product.

Your BOM is what ensures all teams have a clear picture of what the product is, how it will be built and what it will cost, so its really important to build a…


Added by Alyssa Sittig on October 11, 2011 at 4:55pm — 1 Comment

Why should engineer-to-order (ETO) companies care about documentation?

Everyone's favorite topic - documentation! I am a big believer in doing something right the first time, and documentation - while being a huge pain in the ass - makes sure things are done right the first time, and tracked.


I think its important for all engineers to document what they're doing, but someone at work suggested recently that it's even more…


Added by Alyssa Sittig on October 4, 2011 at 5:26pm — No Comments


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