Doing Business with SPG


Signal Processing Group is in the business of assisting its customers in developing and delivering custom analog microsystems and software. The following is a typical cycle of events through which SPG gets involved with a particular customer and his or her requirements.

1.0 Initial Contact:

Initial contact between SPG and the customer may happen in many different ways. Usually it is the result of personal referrals by present SPG customers or a result of SPG's business promotion efforts via the internet, mailers and advertising. Typically the very first contact is on the telephone. This stage of the customer interaction tends to be one of analyzing the gross fit between the requirements of the customer and SPG capabilities. If there is a fit, then further discussion is only a preliminary to the exchange of Non Disclosure Agreements before any substantial technical exchange can begin. In the most usual case this is done by email with originals being sent by mail.

2.0 Conceptual Deliberations:

After the Non Disclosure documents have been signed and exchanged, a more detailed technical conversation can take place. The customer may at this stage, email SPG more information concerning the concept he/she has in mind. This information can be in the form of:

Preliminary feasibility is established at this stage for the realization of the custom microsystem via extended discussions with the customer. After this SPG can respond with budgetary quotations, preliminary project plans, recommendations, suggestions, development strategies or any other material relevant to establishing a low risk schedule of device development and manufacture as required by the customer.

3.0 Customer Review:

The customer reviews the proposal from SPG, and if it meets his/her preliminary requirements from the standpoint of investment and time, asks for a fixed quotation for the overall project. This may consist of quotations for Non Recurring Engineering (NRE) charges, device unit pricing in various volumes, miscellaneous expenditures, schedules ( usually a best case and a worst case schedule) and a milestone chart.

4.0 Specification:

In order to provide a fixed quotation SPG requires the development of a specification for the device. Specifications must be generated for testing the device. The test specification defines a "good device". In other words this is the acceptability criterion for both the customer and SPG. The test specification is used to generate the functional specification of the device which defines what the functionality will be and how the device will be used. Both specifications must be consistent with each other. The difference between the two specifications is that a functional specification contains device parameters which are internal to the device and not seen at the pins of the device. The test specifications define what is seen at the pins and what techniques will be required to test the device efficiently. In some cases the customer may only generate the test specification which is then used by SPG to generate the functional specification. SPG can also work from conceptual descriptions and drawings.

5.0 Firm quotation:

The specification forms the basis of the firm, fixed quotation from SPG. If the specification is complete ( i.e. all parameters have been defined and there are no TBD's on the specification) then the fixed quotation from SPG contains all the required information for the customer. If there are items not completely defined in the specifications then those items will be not be considered in the firm, fixed quotation. These items will be only budgetary and both the customer and SPG will devote their best efforts to move those specification items from the realm of the preliminary to the realm of the firm specification. At this point all items will be deemed to have been completely defined and the quotation will also be complete.

A firm quotation usually includes part or all of the following items:
  1. All Non Recurring Engineering Charges.
  2. Prototype fabrication.
  3. Silicon Breadboard(tm) fabrication ( if required).
  4. Assembly.
  5. Evaluation ( 10 samples provided free of cost).
  6. Test Program development for specified device.
  7. Manufacturing Tooling for production quantities.
  8. Required quantities of packaged and tested devices.

6.0 Program Plan:

A program plan is developed which includes review dates and times, reporting schedules, documentation types, milestones and billing schedules. This plan is approved by the customer and the development proceeds according to SPG's standard development methodology which eliminates unnecessary risk to the program. This methodology is provided with the program plan at the start of an approved project.

7.0 Device Design and Development:

For a detailed description of the development methodology of custom analog microsystems, consult the SPG development methodology documents available on request.

8.0 Confidentiality:

All information provided to SPG by the customer is deemed confidential and should be marked "Confidential". We will always sign confidentiality agreements as and when required by the customer. The information transfer media may be documents, computer disks or any other tangible means of communication. Confidential information will not be shared with any third parties. If it is essential to release confidential information for reasons of supply or to obtain quotations on the customer's behalf we will seek written permission to do so.

9.0 Ownership and patent issues:

If the customer pays for the complete development and manufacture of the custom device, the ownership is never in question. All materials generated during and after the development belong to the customer. However, in some cases there may be a shared fiscal responsibility between the customer and SPG. In this case the ownership is negotiated at the time the contracts are signed. SPG will always help the customer to obtain patent protection for a custom device if the customer requests it. However, the cost of such patents will have to be borne by the customer if the patent belongs solely to the customer.

10.0 Orders:

SPG will not begin providing services under contract before the receipt of an approved purchase order, except for initial free consultations.

11.0 Compensation for services:

Compensation for SPG services can be by the project or by the hour depending on the type of project and the contract. We prefer compensation based on a complete project rather than hourly. In some cases, hourly payments may be appropriate, for example in projects which last for only a week or two. We have as yet not been involved in so short a project, but we are open to doing so. Compensation may be negotiated as a mix of cash payments and royalties if business conditions warrant such a method of compensation. In general however, this will not be the case.

12.0 Billing:

Billing by SPG is negotiated prior to initiating a major project. Invoicing is based on agreed upon milestones and clearly documented expectations and includes payment which initiates a program.

Typical terms are net 15 to a maximum of net 30. Payment delays will incur penalties negotiated at the time of the final contract.


* A development agreement is available for interested customers

** A supply agreement is available for interested customers.

The Analog Specialists

Last modified on August 3, 2015