Thursday, January 19, 2012

Frugal Engineering: Inherent to India and Natural to TenXLabs

India is fast becoming the global head quarters for Frugal Innovation and Frugal Engineering. Its aspects are deep rooted in our culture and inherent to our thought processes. Frugal Engineering is core to TenXLabs ethos and permeates all functions, especially our engineering. Here is a clean-sheet look at Frugal Engineering.

What is Frugal Engineering

You take a wide spread deep-rooted problem. You identify several possible solutions and zero in on the best. Your best solution is defined as:

  1. Focused in solving the central problem with great effect
  2. No frills, no additional benefits or features
  3. Based on and deriving from existing solutions
  4. Solution attributes combining uniquely with a high degree of innovation

You then qualify your solution in these terms:

  1. Delivering a wide spread impact – solving the key problem for most of your users
  2. What the market is willing to pay for this solution (not what it costs you or your competition)
  3. The least effort to deliver the solution to stay cost effective
  4. The fastest time to implement the solution to remain relevant and cost effective

That is about it: the solution you have delivered is Frugal Engineering. And, the path that leads to the solution as defined above is Frugal Innovation.

What is NOT Frugal Engineering?

Just to be doubly sure, here are a few things that are generally confused with Frugal Engineering – these things are not part of Frugal Engineering:

  1. Mindless cost cutting
  2. Cheap sourcing
  3. Cheap imitations – instead it is about a super effective alternate approach
  4. Scale down versions of popular products

Critical Success Factors for Frugal Engineering Success

Having got a broad sense of Frugal Engineering, let us dive to the next level. Let us look at two critical success factors for Frugal Engineering success - The primary critical success factor in Frugal Engineering is the uninhibited ability to define a seemingly impossible or even ridiculous target. This must be given blanket support by the top management. The second critical success factor is the courage to question set processes, norms and status quo.

Why is Frugal Engineering Important for SMEs

Small and medium sized enterprises need software solutions that provide automation and allow them to scale their operations easily. However the solution needs to provide the essential features without too many frills and at the same time be timely and cost effective. They cannot afford to have the ‘ideal’ solution with all the bells and whistles, that takes years to implement. Hence for these companies frugal engineering solutions provide the essential value they are looking for without necessarily adding a lot of overheads.