Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is the best email to contact?
info@usafirmware.com will get you to the right team to review your project needs.

So, how do we get started?
We typically start by signing a mutual non-disclosure agreement (MNDA). If you don’t have one, we can use ours. Then our technical sales team will work with you to scope out the project disciplines needed. Once we feel comfortable that we understand the types of talents you need to complete your project, sales turn it over to engineering. Engineering then does a deeper dive with you, to understand the project well enough to allow us to build your Statement of Work (SOW). We send to you the SoW for your review. Our goal is to make sure we are all in agreement on what we are quoting before we put a full proposal with quote together.

Once we are agreed on the project details, we create a formal proposal that includes the SOW, a detailed quotation, the signed MNDA, our Rate Sheet and our Terms and Conditions. We then get on a teleconference with you to review the package together. The final step is to send you the formal proposal package via DocuSign for your electronic signature. Once you sign off on the package, we await your purchase order to get started.

When do you start sending us a bill?
Once you send us your first purchase order, we will start work and invoice you according to the agreed upon terms.

What are your typical terms?
We issue invoices twice a month, on the 15th and last day (or the preceding business days if those days fall on a weekend or holiday). Our standard and preferred terms are 15-day net with a 1% discount for 5-day net. We can work together with you on terms that are mutually acceptable.

Do you do Mechanical or Industrial Design?
Yes, through a long-time partner that has produced excellent results. We are ‘good friends’ and they are local so we can collaborate face-to-face. They typically work as our sub-contractor.

Can you manufacture our board assemblies?
We can hand build just about any board assembly prototype, but we typically use a quick-turn manufacturer for prototypes. We also have two contract manufacturing partners for production runs. Our partners cover the range of low or high volume and domestic or overseas production.

How do you keep us up to date on project status?
Each week, the Project Manager assigned to your project will hold a meeting with the team to get an update on schedule, scope and remaining effort per task. This information goes into our Professional Services Automation business tools. We create projections so that when we review status with you, not only do you get a snapshot of how things are going but you get to see our projected completion date against the plan and projected final cost against the plan. These forecasts allow us to pivot if necessary to stay on track, and also to keep you well informed as to how we are doing today and also how we expect to be doing tomorrow.

Do you do Fixed Price contracts?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is that most of what we do is custom design under a budgetary estimate.  Custom designs usually involve assumptions and risks that are not fully understood at the time the estimate is created. If you want to do a fixed price contract, we sometimes can, but we will require a rigorous process including mitigation of risks, concept and feasibility studies to be performed before we can lock in a fixed price.

What happens if you go over our PO limit?
The short answer is WE WON’T! All our systems and processes consider the PO limit a brick wall that we cannot climb over. We call it our remaining PO cover. We fully understand that this is coming from your approved budget! We will give you an early warning as mentioned above if we are concerned about cost. We will put in place action plans to control the cost. But we will never exceed your PO limit unless you demand it!

What happens if we finish the project and there is money still left in the PO?
We will close it out. This is a typical scenario and our processes dictate that the PO is just closed out.

We make a plastic widget and now we have to add electronics and IoT to it. Can you help?
Welcome to market disruption. The short and long answer is definitely. This is often the nature of the projects we undertake.

We make a product that is low tech, but now we have to have IoT. Can you help?
More than half of the new projects we start include an IoT component. If your product is simple, we can put sensors on it and connect it to the cloud.

Are you IoT Experts?
IoT has been around a long time. It used to be called Machine-to-Machine communications, and it had other names before that. So yes is the answer. We have several very senior level engineers that have been in the IoT space for over a decade. So, as a result, we have wireless experts, IoT experts, and Cloud software experts. If you need to connect to Ecobee, Alexa, Nest, Google Assist, you name it, we have done it.

Do you do more than Firmware? Do you also do Electronics and Software?
Absolutely! We have best in class, award-winning Electrical Engineering on staff. We ‘start with firmware’ because the world is moving to smart and connected devices and we believe firmware is the glue that brings it all together. It also tends to be the biggest piece of the project and requires multiple disciplinary skills. Hardware design is typically how we start every project. Also, every project typically has a software component, either a PC app or a Mobile app or both.

We need Embedded Linux Experts! Can you help?
I’m glad you asked because that is the easiest one to answer. Most definitely. We have three Principal Embedded Linux Engineers, holding several patents. So yes, we do in spades.

We need an edge computing solution. Do you have to start from scratch?
We have developed a licensed curated Embedded Linux IoT focused Distribution called Fogware™. It has been architected by our lead E-Linux Engineer, Dr. Victor Griswold. Learn more by clicking here. You can license the individual modules your project requires. Fogware modules significantly reduce your time to market and have very high ROI because they are finished and tested work and we charge you substantially less than if we had to design it from scratch.

Still have questions?  Ask us!