Hey Assessors, Why No “U” or “X” in A-SPICE®?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

#Automotive SPICE    #Team Integration

I have a question for the A-SPICE® Assessors around the globe: Why isn’t there a “U” or “X” in A-SPICE®

OK, OK … I get it. There’s a lot of confusion about User Experience (UX), especially in automotive. Maybe that’s because of the alphabet soup game we’ve been playing since the 20th century (e.g. Human Factors Engineering (HFE), Human-Machine Interface (HMI) after Man-Machine Interface (MMI) was too sexist, Human-System Integration (HSI), User Experience (UX), Customer Experience (CX), …). In that alphabet soup, the greater community has lost the understanding that it is about meeting the customers unwritten (or maybe even unknown) needs, not just pumping out a product that doesn’t consider the end user.

Or maybe the exclusion stems from the genesis of the term where Silicon Valley folks were discussing the visual/touch experience of websites and app’s, not the end-to-end experience of automotive customers or our customers’ customer. People struggle to think that broadly, and truly quantify the intangible effects of getting that right or wrong. One automotive industry supplier was testing product pricing versus various smells to see which scent should be included as an internal requirement. Sound “just crazy enough”?

Or maybe it is confusion over the undeniable fact that “Stakeholder Requirements” (a.k.a. SYS1 in A-SPICE vernacular) is not equivalent to “Written Customer Requirements”. In that category fall several other subtopics including internal stakeholder requirements and unstated customer requirements. Yeah, yeah … I know … unstated customer requirements can be tricky to elicit and/or quantify the value-prop in a way that the corporation buys into the investment of development to those requirements, but I have looked at the results of several 3rd party A-SPICE assessments and have rarely seen anyone written-up for only having written, external customer requirements sans internal or gleaned requirements.

So I ask again, why no “U” or “X” in A-SPICE?

For those of you Marketing Gurus, let me support my challenging question with the Income Sheet of your corporation and, therein, maybe you’ll start asking your process folks the same question:


The key to revenue is building a better mousetrap. Can it be called that because of cheaper materials? Maybe. Or, more likely, is it because your product meets the needs of the customer better than the Next Best Alternative (NBA)? And, if so, does that mean you get mark market share? Probably. Does that mean you get repeat sales? Probably (unless a knockoff from the Far East steals your proprietary design next year). Does that mean you can maybe even sneak-in premium pricing? Probably. Starbucks, Verizon and Apple have been doing that for years with what really have been commodity products for a long while (e.g. coffee). Market share, repeat sales and premium pricing all point to an increase in revenue.

Cost of Goods

If you institute Lean UX and Agile Development processes around your gleaned customer requirements (a.k.a. unstated needs), you won’t design a product that misses the mark and, therein, have to completely redo the product. Does “little rework” mean lower labor cost? Yes. Does getting it right the first time mean lower tooling and material costs? Absolutely. Does increased speed to market help with market share, customer acquisition costs, hit rate, etc.? No doubt. Does all of this mean lower Cost of Goods Sold. You betcha, Bob.

Cost of Sales

If the team gets the product right the first time, is selling the customer easier then and for the second generation product? Absolutely. If you build the better mousetrap , do you have customers knocking on your salesmen’s door rather than visa versa? Probably.

Cost to Marketing

If there’s less “fixing” after launch, does that reduce your Cost to Serve (e.g. Customer Support, Call Centers)? Absolutely. If your company is known to have the better mousetrap, does that make brand development easier? No doubt. Does improving delivery on those unstated needs reduce the Cost to Marketing? Absolutely.

Gross Margin

Gross Margin is essentially taking the revenue and subtracting all of your costs. We all agreed that revenue went up if UX were considered in A-SPICE®, right? OK. And we agreed that all costs (except taxes … which isn’t considered until we get to Operating Margin) go down, right? So, therein, Gross Margin increases, yes?  Yes.

If you don’t believe me on this, look at companies that focus on “Design” and “User Experience versus those that don’t. The graph on the right is from dmi, and another study at points to the same result: if you consider UX, you will outperform the S&P 500 by roughly 220%. If not, you will trail the S&P 500 by the same spread. Period. Or maybe your strategy to outperform the S&P 500 is to buy marijuana stock while your own Income Sheet goes up in smoke? Hmm …

So let me ask again, why isn’t there a “U” or “X” in A-SPICE®?


Do you need to improve your automotive product development, to increase efficiency, or to comply with ASPICE and Functional Safety? You are at the right place.