I often get calls along the following lines:
Client: “We need a test system for our new product. We have the NI data acquisition hardware and a LabVIEW license, but we just don’t have the resources to develop it in time. Is that something you can help us with?”
Me: “Yes, we have several certified LabVIEW Developers and Architects, and we’ve developed hundreds of systems such as yours. When do you need it?”
Me: “Well, that’s one more day than we usually get.”
Needless to say, at that point, the project is a rush, and both client and us are scrambling to get it done in time.
It is much better to involve us much earlier in the project; ideally before you even purchase the data acquisition and control hardware, or LabVIEW software. There are several reasons for this. First, it may be that making inexpensive / trivial changes in the product design can make the test system much less expensive.
Similarly, by investing a little time up-front in the specification and architecture of the test system, before having to rush into implementation, we usually can save you considerable money. This is just Project Management 101.
Another consideration is risk management. By involving us from the start, we can help identify those areas of the project that contribute the most risk to the overall schedule and cost, so we can all focus on them early on, while we still have time to deal with them. In some cases, the best solution may involve making other changes to the product and / or the test system. Almost always, making those changes earlier is MUCH less expensive than making them later.
Another advantage is letting us purchase the hardware, thus providing a fully-integrated “turn-key” system that has already been more thoroughly tested. Also, you may not even need a LabVIEW license. We can provide an executable if that works for you. I’ll write more on each of those in other articles.