Updated: April 14th, 2014

When an end product fails due to a faulty connector, the team that takes the blame may not be the group that was ultimately responsible for the final purchasing choice. In the end, who owns connector selection responsibility?

fault-sign-300x300Many times, when a field problem is tied to specific connector, the question asked is, “Who selected that crappy connector in the first place?” The answer is often not who selected the connector in the first place, but rather who selected it in the last place.

Connectors are often considered non-critical passive devices in a complex system and are frequently selected and designed in according to factors that are important to a number of different entities within a company.

The selection process often starts with the R&D function, where the primary concern is to prove the system functionality, regardless of cost and manufacturability. The connectors selected at this early stage are passed to the development team, whose responsibility is to refine and further develop the system. That group often maintains the original connectors specified in the design.

The design is then passed to a sustaining engineering team that oversees the design and documentation of the system, again maintaining the connector selection.

But then the design reaches the purchasing/procurement/supply chain management department, which is usually motivated to reduce cost and assure availability over making the right technical selection.

Finally, and frequently, the manufacturing responsibility, which today is often outsourced, may have the authority and ability to make component decisions to further reduce cost and streamline the manufacturing processes. They may select or change the connectors based on a myriad of non-design factors, such as past experience, cost, supplier relation