My August column in Circuits Assembly focuses on getting to win-win in OEM-EMS negotiations.
One of the recurring themes I hear in electronics manufacturing services (EMS) is how challenging it is for many program managers and salespeople to negotiate with customers. I’m often told the industry has changed, but when I ask hard questions I tend to find that the biggest change is that the people doing the negotiation seem to know a lot a less about the business of building electronic products than their predecessors. And this isn’t just on the EMS side. Years ago, OEMs put highly technical senior people on the team that managed outsourcing efforts. While those people were tough negotiators, they negotiated based on strong knowledge of the processes and challenges inherent in electronics manufacturing. Similarly, EMS program managers (PMs) were often pulled from operations. If expenses were increasing, they had the knowledge to explain the reason a price increase was necessary. Read more here.
Over the years I’ve noticed those new to program management often find negotiating with customers challenging. So, in my February 2016 Circuits Assembly article, I highlighted strategies for improving negotiation outcomes.
It is important to understand the role of the program manager has two parts: First, a program manager is the face of the company to their customers. Second, the program manager is charged with keeping the program on track within the contractor’s business model. In some cases, this role may include managing profitability. In other cases, it is simply keeping program metrics in line with the contractor’s model.
The reality is that if the program doesn’t make a profit or becomes a nightmare that causes chaos in materials or the production area, that customer most likely will be disappointed. Addressing project issues early ultimately contributes to increased customer satisfaction, smoother production flow and greater program profitability. The article lists seven strategies to improve negotiations.
I’ll be teaching part of the EMS Program Management Essentials course Feb. 23 and 25, and attending meetings in between, at IPC APEX Expo. Learn more about IPC’s EMS Program Management Certification Program here. It’s a great way to learn new things about the most difficult job in the EMS industry.
IPC’s EMS Program Management Certification program will have two sessions coming up in September. As many of you know I teach part of the Essentials of Program Management portion. This EMS industry-developed program is a great way to ensure that your program management team has a balanced understanding of both the business and technical aspects of what many call, “the most challenging job in EMS.” The sessions are scheduled Sept. 13-14 at IPC’s headquarters outside Chicago and Sept. 17, 18, and 20, at Hunter Technology in Santa Clara, CA. For more information on course content, cost, all scheduled dates and ways to register visit: http://www.ipc.org/ContentPage.aspx?pageid=EMS-Program-Manager-Certification.
In the February issue of Circuits Assembly, my column looks at trends in process efficiency in the electronics manufacturing services (EMS) industry. If I were to point out a single trend in EMS, it would be that range of software solutions that help EMS companies better manage their processes in real-time continues to grow and have dropped enough in price that even smaller, regionally-focused companies are adopting them. View the article for a discussion of the four areas that companies are choosing to improve via these tools.
Mike Buetow, Circuits Assembly’s editor-in-chief, has invited me to host a chat on: Effective EMS Program Management and Strategies for Growing Accounts. It will be held online on March 28, from 2-3 pm ET. There is no cost to attend, but attendees do need to register at the Printed Circuit University site to participate or view the archived chat. For those of you who prefer some level of anonymity in online forums, you can use a short screen name or post questions under the name, ‘anonymous’.
For those of you unfamiliar with UP Media Group’s Printed Circuit University, it is an online forum with a variety of paid and free content. PCB Chat is part of their tuition-free offerings. Unlike webinars, the Chat format is an entirely Q&A driven process. If the chat doesn’t work for your schedule, you can log on early and post your questions ahead of the event. I’ll answer them during the event and you can log on later and view the full transcript.
To help participants better plan their questions, this chat focuses on the program management process and best practices in growing existing accounts. As many of you already know, program managers can make or break an EMS company. So, join me on March 28th for a lively discussion on what works and what doesn’t.