"A chain is only as strong as its weakest link," says the proverb. And a large company's ability to deliver best-in-class products depends on how well each employee and each outside supplier/vendor adheres to the latest industry quality standards – especially when resources and processes stretch around the globe.
One of the world's largest cable TV, high-speed internet and telephone providers, with billions of dollars in annual revenues, needed to meet increased customer expectations and accelerate time to market for new products and services. The company's senior management team had already seen that they could help drive down product defects by giving their employees fast, easy access to superior standards documentation and expertise. Making internal design documentation accessible online to companies that are part of its supply chain would enable this media technology provider to insist on greater transparency and accountability from those companies, plus increase innovation and productivity while reducing the risk of non-compliance.
Fortunately, the media technology company's product management team already knew where to turn for the latest, world-class standards content and expertise. One of the company's vice presidents contacted IHS Markit.
Expanding a Proven Solution
For more than two years, this media technology provider had provided nearly 1000 of its employees with a subscription to IHS Markit Standards Expert – a powerful, easy-to-use system backed by the world's largest collection of engineering standards and related documents. Now the media technology company added a separate, parallel subscription to serve its worldwide network of more than 70 suppliers and vendors. This tandem subscription provided them with immediate access to the most up-to-date standards and requirements information, all in one unified database that is currently in English but has an option to add access in up to ten languages.
As a result, the media technology provider's suppliers/vendors now have quick access to internal design documentation – Computer Aided Design (CAD) files, design specs and guidelines, standards and encoding control notifications (ECNs) as well as a wealth of related guidelines and test methods. Employees and suppliers alike can find the standards information they need, when they need it.
Replacing Manual Processes
Previously, this premier media technology provider had relied on a combination of labor-intensive, legacy processes to provide its supply chain companies with needed design documentation and related requirements. A full-time administrator struggled to distribute the high volume of printed documents – tracking updates each day to ensure that the right specifications documents reached the right supplier and verifying that the supplier was certified. She used a massive spreadsheet to track who received what, when they needed updates, when non- disclosure agreements (NDAs) were due and more. Accountability for adhering to quality standards was limited because the administrator could only determine whether the supplier had received the documents. She could not verify whether they were actually reviewing or using the documents she sent – an essential step for efficiency and risk avoidance.
The media technology provider has dramatically improved productivity. Its managers found the automated IHS Markit solution so effective that they are expanding its use to additional vendors.
The media technology provider VP engaged IHS Markit to implement and host the new global standards system, as well as build metadata and search indices, while also allowing his company to maintain its own data and updates. Within two months, the media technology company was tracking use of online standards information by its initial group of 70+ supplier companies and nearly 200 users.
Extending Access to Spur Innovation
Today, the media technology provider automatically distributes the current product design documentation to the right individual at the right supplier company vendor on a need-to-know basis. Trade secrets and manufacturing details are secured from unintended viewing with permissions-based security. Suppliers and vendors can set up watch lists to ensure they receive news of any revisions or updates to selected standards as they become available.
The media technology provider also puts draft standards into the IHS Markit system for suppliers to provide feedback that helps drive innovation. Sharing information helps the company collaborate with its suppliers more effectively and, for example, look together at how standards may relate to technologies on the horizon.
By using shared product design documents and information, this media technology provider has dramatically improved productivity. Its managers found the automated IHS Markit solution so effective that they are expanding its use to additional vendors, such as those that manage shipping and handling. And the full-time administrator who previously tracked suppliers' use of standards information manually can now get the job done so efficiently that she spends only a minute or two each day on that task and the rest of her time on higher-value work.
Providing Training to Jump Start Progress
The media technology provider's leadership team helped ensure that their suppliers would take advantage of the IHS Markit solution by providing in-depth training. The company enlisted IHS Markit experts to conduct more than 20 sessions to educate vendors about the availability of the system and how to use it to achieve 100 percent compliance. Training sessions covered practical details to get suppliers started using the system – such as how to download standards, perform full text searches, and create watch lists to automatically track updates to specific standards and send notifications to users.
Transparency, Accountability, Scalability
With IHS Markit Standards Expert, this media technology provider now tracks exactly which suppliers have received which standards and produces usage reports on whether suppliers have downloaded the standards and how many times they have used them. The company has thus gained greater visibility into whether a given vendor is staying abreast of changing product quality requirements so they can do their part to ensure full compliance.
In addition, the media technology provider can also continue driving product quality as its global supply chain grows. Providing another supplier/vendor or employee with access to the IHS Markit Standards Expert solution is a simple matter of adding a seat to the subscription, rather than a tedious manual process (with more room for errors) involving the legacy spreadsheet. In this way and more, teaming with IHS Markit enables the media technology company and its suppliers to work together more effectively to achieve their business goals – now and in the future.
1 IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers); ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials); TIA (the Telecommunications Industry Association); EIA (Electronic Industries Alliance).