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That's a good area to discuss. An essential element in the success of a design group is the EDA support staff. It administers the EDA design system with its tool licenses, libraries, computer, upgrades, and backup support.

In any company, there is a significant learning curve for new people. There is a need for job satisfaction and incentive for experienced people. The company needs to cross-train people. If one person leaves, that should not remove the only knowledge about a particular area or tool.

Most EDA staff members want to work with the newest tools—to develop, test, or use them. However, a large part of the workload is the support and maintenance of the existing tools. EDA managers try to balance this research-and-development (R&D) vs. maintenance dilemma in several ways.

One approach has junior people learning the tools and problems by handling most of the support. They may move on to R&D after they learn about the existing tools. However, experienced staff also needs to be available to train them in the support work.

A second approach rotates the staff through both roles—so everyone does some R&D and some support for a time. This must be done carefully to avoid losing continuity in either area.

Another approach has every R&D person also supporting one or more tools. That way they have a role in, and appreciation for, both areas. They also learn how to make their development work easier to maintain.


That's quite a balancing act. Where do you get your staff?

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