Design for Companies to Assure the Quality of Their Products while Keeping their Test Plan Rightsized for Market Success
This is a team-based project of Design Methods Series Courses of
Stanford University, cooperated with Omnicell, a company that develops and markets end-to-end automation solutions for the medical industry.
Nate Lin (Me)
The Design Roadmap of this Project
Starting from Amorphous
The Process of Project Definition
Customer not sure what’s the specific problem
Originally, our project team was tasked with helping Omnicell to develop a Standard Operating Procedure for hardware testing that was specific to their products, which would reduce labor hours and cost.
→ What we focus on:
Develop a thorough understanding of
Issues with those products
Any development that had already occurred on the hardware testing procedure.
Case study and identifying opportunities
We kept considering multiple perspectives(including Automotive, Aerospace, Consumer Electronics, and Medical Device Industries ) and got feedback from our stakeholder, and were shifting our prompts throughout the course between product-focus or process-focus.
Diverse perspectives have given us a greater understanding of the user needs and requirements as well as potential complexities in truly rightsizing a test process.
Pivot to Focus on developing a tool that can help rightsize the test processes for generic products
We gradually help the company to identify their true problems when a "eureka" moment occurred that we switched our project goal to a more generic tool that could apply to visually justify the upfront investment of hardware testing for reduction in financial exposure.
Ideation and Prototyping
Make lemon the lemonade
We applied concept generation and selection to ideate the prototype were going to deliver.
Finally we developed an Excel based financial exposure calculator that can help companies to make better decisions for how much to spend on testing.
Quoted from the representatives of Omnicell,
"We make lemon the lemonade."
in the early stage
Customer Value Chain Analysis
Quality Function Deployment
Project Priorities Matrix
Design Methods for building concepts and implementation
Failure Mode and Effect Analysis
Monte Carlo simulation
Concept Generation and Selection
How Much to Invest in Testing?
Nowadays, the market has much higher standards for product durability and reliability, however, there is no effective tool to help companies (like our customer- Omnicell) decide how much is reasonable to invest in testing their products. They tend to be either overtesting (wasting too many resources in a failure mode that is not very severe) or undertesting (underestimating how severe or probable a failure mode may be).
To create a financial exposure calculator by calculating test and liability costs and providing insights that can be used to rightsize Omnicell’s test process using research and the toolbox from our Design Methods courses while keeping identified trends and insights as general as possible as measured by the number of products that can apply these insights to be greater than 80% of Omnicell’s hardware products.
(Product Liability Universal Software)
We developed a tool- PLUS that can help companies to make better decisions for how much to spend on testing.
Key Parts of the Tool
A Excel spreadsheet that allows the user to input applicable failure modes, costs to outsource/rent/buy test equipment, and potential liability costs related to each failure mode.
A Database for calculating the final financial exposure costs with testing and without testing, which contains confidence intervals for test costs and liability costs.
- Help companies to decide whether they should conduct testing or not
by showing the average financial exposure cost associated with testing compared to the potential financial exposure cost of not testing.
- Help companies to decide whether they should outsource/rent/buy test equipment by comparing the average financial exposure costs with testing from buying/renting/outsourcing test equipment.
Our business model would be business to business. This tool could serve any company that needs to test their products, either hardware or software. Therefore, we envision our tool being applied to different types of businesses, ranging from conventional to high-tech industries.
The competitive advantage of our product, named PLUS (Product Liability Universal Software), is to help companies to minimize cost, minimize risk, and maximize quality for their products. The concept of our advertisements is to show our customers the comparison between the product in failing scenarios (right hand side) and the product being used without failing through the help of PLUS (left hand side).
in the Early Stage Study
We applied the following tools to help us get a brief picture of the project offered by Omnicell, defining the problems and pivoting our project goal:
for Building the Concepts for the Financial Exposure Calculator
After the early stage analysis and studies, our team was focused on developing a general tool – the financial exposure calculator for justifying the upfront investment in testing for general hardware products.
We would apply Concept Generation and Selection to decide what the financial exposure calculator should be looked like.
for Building the Transfer function behind the Financial Exposure Calculator
In this section we use Scenario Diagram and Risk Decomposition for constructing the transfer function behind calculator.
We would decide that this demonstration would be most effective by visually quantifying reductions in financial exposure (warranty, recall, and lawsuit costs) with increased investment in testing. We believe that this output should be useful in persuading management to invest in testing.
Overall Reflection for this Project
During this project, it has evolved significantly and takes its final form as a tool that can be used to persuade management to fund testing upfront in order to reduce a company’s financial exposure in a particular area, when appropriate.
Tasks to be conducted
We made a significant amount of progress in a short time, but a number of tasks remain if the tool is to be as useful and powerful as it has the potential to be. These tasks include:
1. Refining the “database” and transfer function.
2. Refining Inputs, especially Liability estimates that consider:
a. Potential failure modes and those severities.
b. Potential impact to reputation/ revenue.
c. Possible lawsuits, warranty-related expenditures, and recall cost.
3. Improve the overall UI interface to be more automated and more user friendly.
More customizable to meet requirements of different companies
The estimated flow times and labor costs for each activity are included above as a proposed business plan for future work. These show that for a modest investment a company could customize the tool to help them make decisions that could protect them against lawsuits, recalls, and loss of reputation.
Once the above actions are performed, we believe this tool could serve as an easy-to-use, highly customizable way to make smart decisions about investing up front in order to reduce a company’s financial exposure in the event of product failure.
Adapting the wide range of industries
For the addressable market, one of the benefits of our tool is that it could be further developed in many forms, even as a desktop program or mobile app, to create a whole new service about consulting for investment strategy for test plans (refer to Concept Development section for more concept detail). Furthermore, the target market could be a wide range of industries since almost every business needs a good plan to rightsize their procedure and properly test their products. We think our tool is a promising product and has a great market demand in the future!