You’ve Just Hired an Engineering Consulting Firm…Now What?
Engineering Consulting Firm advantages
Now that your company has agreed to pull the trigger and has secured a third-party engineering consulting firm, now what? Like everything else you do for your company, you have made this decision based on the bottom line. Ultimately, you expect to recoup your expenses and come out better off than you would have been if you had elected to do this work in-house. Perhaps you have hired a mechanical engineering consulting firm looking to gain a competitive advantage and get your product to market faster. It is now up to you to make sure that things go as you hope.
How do you get everything you need from them? You didn’t get to the position you are in today by just hoping that things turn out all right. You know that you must be a liaison between your company and the engineering consultants. The more active you are in maximizing the relationship and providing guidance about what you want on the project, the more certain it is that the job will be completed the way you want.
Of course, the first thing you do in any project is plan ahead. You know what you want the engineering consultants to accomplish, so have it spelled out in a Statement of Work (SOW). Your SOW is the basic tool that will start you and your engineering consulting firm working together with a clear understanding of what is expected of both of you. You have already discussed many of these terms ahead of time during the hiring process. However, the SOW will be much more detailed. It should include:
A timeline. This lets the mechanical engineering consulting firm know what key elements of the project you want delivered on what days. Work with the engineering consultants to establish reasonable goals. You must balance what you need done with what they are able to do.
Tasks. State what tasks must be accomplished in order to meet the goals on the timeline. Also, state who will complete each task. Some must be done by the consulting engineers and others by your company.
Expenses. Explain who will pay for what. This includes the costs of materials, sub-contracted labor, and any unexpected expenses.
The governing process. Finally, the SOW should outline who is to be in the governing committee, how often it should meet and where.
Be prepared to give the mechanical engineering consulting firm your full support. Ask questions about what access they will need. Will they be working with any of your employees on a close basis? If so, take the time to introduce them, and make sure everyone is aware of their position in the relationship and what tasks each member of the blended team is expected to accomplish.
Don’t forget status update calls and meetings. Make sure everyone is meeting deadlines, and find out what is blocking efforts. Remain active in the process from start to finish. Your engineering consulting firm wants to please you. They very much want feedback from you about their efforts, just as you want reports from them about their progress. The more closely you work with them, the more successful both of you will be.