This is the 4th and final installment of the discussion on selecting a design engineering firm. There are many companies working with design firms to develop their next new product. Most of these arrangements work OK and the results are good enough. However, there are times when the wrong firm is selected and the results tragic.
How do we properly evaluate the efficacy of a design team (internal or contract) when we have little evidence of past performance? These 5 steps provide excellent insight into their ability to meet project requirements.
The 5 steps are:
- Demonstrable expertise and success in the EXACT discipline
- Numerous positive references and testimonials
- Advertised expertise
- An internal audit function
- Do they stand behind their design or so they shrug-off their failures and continue to bill time & materials
Do they guarantee their work quality and schedule? So your prospective design firm made through the first 4 steps so they are probably technically qualified and honest enough to share their documents and clients. Now the real test, will they guarantee the schedule and cost targets in their proposal? Development projects are expensive but missing a launch date is much more expensive. You can make up for cost overruns with additional sales but sales lost due to schedule delays are sales and profit lost forever.
An example from Step 3 above. These two companies offer the “same” technical services. The first firm offers no guarantees or compensation for missing schedules. The second firm guarantees first time passage of critical performance tests or the second round is free. Same project, same design criteria, radically different business philosophies. Which company would you choose?
We cannot view design firms as clones of each other. They have their own expertise and business practices. Find the firms that claims a proven record of technical success in your field of need. Then eliminate any of them who cannot prove this expertise and back-up the proof with some form of guarantee. The hard work and diligence required by this vetting process will be returned to your firm many times. Failure to do the work can cause your firm irreparable damage and possible collapse.
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