The electronic contract manufacturing business model evolved from the matrix organization business model used in the defense industry. The basic idea was that it was more efficient to have program managers directing shared support and production resources than it would have been to create completely dedicated support and production resources for each customer. Correctly used, the program management model enables customers to maximize the economies of scale found in shared resources while still having a “champion” focused on ensuring their needs are met.

That said, in some cases, PCB assembly services or electronics assembly (box build) services may have completely dedicated production resources if the volumes justify a dedicated SMT line or project requirements dictate a segregated final assembly area.

But whether a PCB assembly line is shared or dedicated, the program management role is essentially the same: act as the key point of contact for both customer and contract manufacturer support personnel for that project. It can be a demanding role. On the customer side, the program manager is responsible for customer satisfaction and quickly addressing any issues that come up in the program. On the company side, the program manager’s job is to ensure the project runs efficiently according to plan. And, that second set of duties ultimately defines whether or not the program management function truly benefits customers, since well run programs have competitive costs and on time deliveries.

Most companies who outsource electronics manufacturing, do so because they have decided to no longer be manufacturing experts. Program managers are the point people in ensuring that a disciplined approach is taken to project transition, production scheduling, cost reduction, obsolescence management, engineering changes and post-production support.

What elements should be assessed in evaluating the efficacy of a program management team? Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Is there a formal process for new product introduction (NPI)?
  • Does the program management team have process for validating forecasts?
  • What processes are in place to support changes to the project?
  • What metrics is the program management team typically measuring?
  • Is the program manager charged with managing the project alone or is there a dedicated team?

(The following material linked to a program management page or if that page has been dropped just include it in this section).

At Milwaukee Electronics, broadly-skilled program teams who provide responsive customer-focused support are utilized for every project. Each program manager serves as the key point of contact between your team and the whole of our electronics manufacturing supply chain, materials, engineering and operations personnel. Program teams are individually structured and specifically configured to provide the right degree of support, depending on your needs.

Every program has a unique set of requirements, and your program manager is tasked with developing a strategy to properly define and manage them.

The elements of demand variability, cost reduction goals, and alignment with your company's continuous improvement initiatives are all carefully considered by program managers in developing an optimum solution for your project. Other matters related to technological challenges, varying support over your product's lifecycle and the aspects of logistics simplicity are also taken into account for the benefit of the project as a whole. Furthermore, your program manager will also provide you with customized reports and work with you to determine your preferred visibility in project metrics.

Along with taking part in Milwaukee Electronics’ own internal training processes, our program managers participate in IPC’s EMS Program Management Certification Program.