The Three-Legged Stool of Quality: How Companies Should Invest in Hardware, Software & Experiences

Published: April 16, 2024
Photo credits: dzm1try/

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on March 19, 2024 and has been updated as of April 16, 2024.

Any company that produces products knows that ensuring reliable quality and meeting market needs are both make-or-break factors for success. For B2B manufacturers who strive to support partners and their customers, it’s vital to make well-timed investments in engineering labs and product testing staff to accelerate product development and strengthen the ability to react quickly to market trends. A process that focuses on quality can serve as a template to help technology manufacturers of all kinds improve future product reliability, performance and usability.

Quality in Three Parts: Hardware, Software & Experiences

When talking about quality, it’s best understood in three parts: quality hardware, quality software and quality experiences. Quality hardware means developing products that are designed and tested to withstand the most extreme conditions, and quality software means providing best-in-class performance and functionality. Quality experiences result from the combination of hardware and software, ensuring simple installation and servicing for integrators while also delivering premium, intuitive experiences for customers.

Sometimes, I like to compare these three categories to legs on a stool that need to each be balanced and supported equally to ensure companies are sitting upright.

To maximize quality across those three areas, manufacturers can take the steps outlined below to ensure rapid product development that can help reduce costs, accelerate launches and improve customer experiences.

Making Hardware Design Easy

Since companies commonly specify products for both residential and commercial projects, every product must be tested to the highest level of specifications to ensure premium performance in any environment or circumstance. This requires testing procedures that push past the limits of real-world use cases to identify possible points of failure and indicate if improvements must be made.

Hardware labs that have invested in the latest and most advanced testing capabilities allow for testing beyond worst-case scenarios and provide confidence that every product will perform reliably regardless of weather, level of use, installation location or any other project variable.

For instance, a new in-house anechoic chamber has helped cut the hardware development and testing time by months while simultaneously reducing costs and eliminating the logistics required for third-party testing. Scale is important here of course, and startup manufacturers will likely continue to need third-party solutions due to upfront equipment costs.

Leveraging Automation to Improve Software

For any given technology product, the software and user interface can make or break the installer and user experience. Analyzing performance across a range of integrations, capabilities and use cases can be a daunting, time-intensive task, which is why experts have developed automated scripts that can run tests 24 hours a day with incredible speed and accuracy.

Well-designed automated software testing equipment can run thousands of tests per hour, creating a wealth of performance data far greater than hands-on testing could ever provide. These comprehensive reports enable rapid identification of bugs and errors and remove any possibility of human error impacting the test results. This not only makes products and integration more reliable and easier to use, but also allows quicker iterations and responses to integrator needs with test cycles that take hours instead of weeks.

Designing the Ideal Experience

As a multi-category manufacturer producing both hardware and software, robust-testing capabilities allow to evaluate the real-world experiences one can expect when installing or using product and solutions. Across the entire catalog of devices, systems and services, partners and users must be fully satisfied with the quality, longevity, ease of installation, service and expandability.

Additionally, without consistent user input, potential improvements may be ignored and performance issues may go unaddressed, reducing sales or product effectiveness and harming brand reputation.

Thus, it is important to build extensive interoperability labs and tap into engineering teams staffed with dozens of previous integrators and tech-support specialists specifically focused on providing excellent experiences from the moment a product is opened.

Ensuring Quality Hardware, Quality Software and Premium Experiences

Product developers that truly care for their customers and aim to provide premium experiences can make targeted investments to ensure they stay atop the three-legged stool of quality and continue offering hardware, software and experiences that deliver beyond expectations. Through strategic investment and focus in quality and testing, product designers can broaden and enhance their catalogs to improve products for partners while simultaneously generating positive brand awareness and supporting long-term manufacturer relationships.

David Moore is EVP of Engineering & Technology at Snap One.

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