For a program manager, resolving product acceptance or post-deployment problems is an unwelcome item on the daily to-do list. Depending on the industry (e.g., aerospace, defense, medical, telecom, transportation), potential issues include schedule delays, cost impacts, customer complaints, mission impacts, or even loss of life.
How can program managers keep such unwelcome reliability issues off their to-do list? Today, end users such as airline operators, military program managers, or telecom providers, expect a high degree of due diligence from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that they are designing in reliability. OEMs may accomplish this task through their own proprietary engineering practices, contractual obligations, or industry standard requirements. Excessive testing of products after they are prototyped or built is not the answer. Reliability improvement and growth tests and the classic “test, analyze, and fix” concepts were commonplace in the eighties and early nineties. These methods did improve reliability; however, they also added cost and time. The ultimate process goal is to shift the focus during engineering and manufacturing development (E&MD) from „pass test‟ to „good design‟ prior to completion of the technology development phase (Figure 1).