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What do we look for as part of our qualification of our development partners

One of the things our customers appreciate about siliance is our ability to find and cultivate high quality Partners to develop, test and maintain our customer’s products.   But you may be surprised to know that is not the only measurement we have of our Partners. We evaluate them on several attributes but in this paper, we will examine one of them that is near and dear to my heart. And that is what we call Resource Sustainability. No matter what happens, we will have the right resources to do the job.

When we started siliance some 15 years ago, we set out to develop long term relationships with our customers and with our Partners. We were not in the product development services business to do quick hit and run services. We wanted to develop the longer term relationships where we were part of the customer’s team.  WE didn't want to be viewed as a supplier to provide a service and then disappear, but as someone who helps plan the next engagement. Our Partners need to be aligned or our vision will not be realized.

So what are we looking for in addition to high competency in the areas we will market? If our Partners are going to be “in it for the long term” they must be continually building and growing their staff. One way to look at this is to look analogously at the military. The military identifies potential recruits and then sends them to a boot camp.  This separates the people that have the basic skills to be successful and then trains them in the specific skills and processes they need  to survive in battle and live another day.

To bring this back to our Partners, they identify the best students early, have some of the best Partner’s engineering professionals teach subject matter courses at the University. This activity leads to early identification of the rock stars! Finding the high-quality, smart, and productive engineering students early and have them do some project work using the Partner’s resources.  When they become seniors, they have them develop their thesis project at the Partner’s facility.   Then the Partner hires the graduates that they believe will be the best performers in the longer term.

When the graduate engineers join the company, they are given a mentor from the Partner's professional staff.  They are placed in a several month training program that deepens their technical skills and familiarizes them with company and project processes.  They also learn the soft skills like communications - to be assertive, to ask questions, to get answers and results in a timely manner.

After this training period the new engineers are attached to a real customer project with their mentor.  We do not expect them to be very productive, we expect them to grow in confidence and learn. They are not billable, and we call them Shadow resources because they work in their mentor's shadow to learn by doing. Many studies have shown the best way to learn is to do on the job training (OJT). Soon these Shadows become skilled enough to be billable and step into a future need.  More work is being done and we are training the future resources to be ready when needed. So, both the customer and the Partner win.

The Partner's engineers are continually trained throughout the engineer’s career in personal development.  For example, additional technical skills training, leadership training, project management, doing presentations and participation in technical seminars to broaden the capabilities of the Partners engineering resources. That is what we call Resource Sustainability!. That is the winning formula for our Partners in it for the long term and something we at siliance are always looking to encourage.