When does it pay for a company to bring in an outside engineering consultant? What value can a design consultant bring to the table? In my 25 years of engineering experience, 10 of that as a consultant, I have seen many approaches. Most companies enter into a relationship with common reasoning. Those reasons span:
- Filling a resource void due to a spike in demand.
- Specific expertise not present in the organization
- Outsourcing product development because the primary function of the group is manufacturing, not R&D or product design
Here are other reasons I often suggest that add significant value to the client. They include:
- Objectivity – The value of bringing in a fresh set of eyes to a problem can be striking.
- Design reviews – In a similar way to above, inclusion of a consultant in design reviews is a great way to bring in new ideas and ask the right questions which, for whatever reasons, may be taboo in the culture of the organization.
- Focus – The consultant may work off-site, but even on-site is not subject to the politics and distractions of the organization. A consultant can be much more focused and efficient with their time.
- Training – A consultant can bring specific expertise into the organization and provide training in an efficient manner.
- Process Development – I have often worked with a company to identify shortcomings in their design process, whether it be streamlining, providing team members better support in the process, increasing team member efficiency, or improving data management. Subsequent formalization to that process can yield huge value.
With consulting costs being line items in budgets rather than personnel overhead, it can be often be an opportunity to sequester overhead to specific projects rather than to the organization as a whole. Consider a consultant as an on-call solution to problems that is always available, a shadow team member. Developing relationships with consultants prior to the opportunity, or emergency, can make for a seamless integration and quick solution to your needs.
Converse Design Engineering provides mechanical design & management services for all your new product realization needs. Check out my website at www.conversedesignengineering.com for further information on how CDE can be a valuable shadow team member to your organization.