Guest blog – Patrick Tetzlaff
Use Outside Engineering Services!
Patrick Tetzlaff – General Manager, Design Department Incorporated
If you are a business owner or an executive who has influence over an engineering department’s budget, then this article is for you. As the General Manager of a product development firm, my role involves promoting our services to occasionally reluctant customers. Our clients are typically managers, directors, or VPs, and most have ascended to management positions from core engineering roles and are still engineers at heart. For those who are not aware, engineers by nature generally do not ask for help, yet help is the essence of what I am trying to promote. For all those reluctant prospective customers, I offer the following three reasons to consider using outside engineering services:
- Increase the effectiveness of your team
- Workloads vary and if you rely 100% on internal resources, then you are probably both underutilizing and overutilizing your team on a regular basis.
- When workloads drop the team can take it easy. However, when workloads increase, your only option is to stand over the team and ask them to work harder, work more hours, or work weekends; an inefficient model that leads to erosion of morale in the long run. A more effective approach is to staff for the workload that you encounter 85-95% of the time and use outside resources to spool up when additional capacity is needed. This allows you to keep the core team operating at an efficient pace most of the time while not being overstaffed. Another factor to consider is that outside influence brings in a cross-proliferation of ideas and methodologies which can broaden the team’s field of vision. This enhances the creativity of the team and serves to promote a culture of innovation. Companies that use this model effectively empower their managers and directors with a discretionary budget allocation for outside services. This could be as little as 5% of their total engineering budget but comes in very handy for high demand periods.
2. Better serve your internal customers
- The engineering department is not only the innovation engine for the organization but also a service provider for many internal customers; sales and marketing, supply management, aftersales, and manufacturing. Given this level of demand on one department, chances are at least one of the customers is underserved. Bringing on additional support rather than delaying customer requests may be a better option. This will increase the effectiveness of the engineering department as a whole and internal customer satisfaction will improve.
3. Jump start your innovation engine
- You have it! It’s the next great product idea or product improvement that could change the course of your industry. The problem is that you do not have enough time or people to get this project off the ground. Calling in some short-term support can get this project far enough along that you can begin to sell the idea internally and obtain resources for a larger, properly funded effort.
There are excellent providers of engineering consulting services on the market. Building a relationship with one or more of these service providers can bring a great deal of value to you and your organization. Providers, such as Design Department, can serve as a valuable enhancement to your existing engineering team, helping to stabilize workload, enhance creativity, and foster a culture of innovation; all of which will help the engineering team be a more effective part of your organization.