“If you want something done right, do it yourself.”

We’ve all heard this piece of advice. Usually, it’s dispensed the moment a disgruntled so-and-so is met with subpar work. It is, of course, a very bad piece advice for an engineering firm. This is because almost all modern organisations require delegation and collaboration in order to ‘get the job done.’

Growing your team does inevitably mean losing a certain degree of control over your business. But through ensuring good design management techniques and quality assurance mechanisms, you can ensure that all output meets the standard worthy of both your name and your brand.

Whether you grow this team through recruiting or outsourcing depends entirely on the current need and position of your business, as well as the type of the project you’re undertaking. Whichever you choose, you face the same challenges when it comes to quality assurance.

But don’t worry, the same design management procedures will be equally effective in either situation. One in particular we’ll be dealing with here. The procedure we discuss most at EngLancer is how to effectively scope an aspect of work or project.

Our thoughts, experiences and rantings are detailed below to outline how we feel it can be done most effectively:

  • Tell them what you need

Seems obvious, I know. But you’d be surprised at the sheer lack of time and effort some engineers put into scoping the work they need. And it’s often those same so-and-so’s left complaining when they receive poor quality work. “Rubbish in, rubbish out.” It’s a saying I hear a lot and it’s true.

By taking the time to define the expected deliverables, deadlines, performance metrics, assumptions and any specific methods or softwares to be used by employee or freelancer, the chances of you getting back something you can put your name to is exponentially increased.

And more and more we’re hearing that rigorously scoping a delegated task adds value to the resulting design. Simply as part of the (inherent) review process, more efficient methods are considered, with mistakes or unsound assumptions challenged and put right.

Put plainly, if you don’t know exactly what you want, another member of staff or freelancer will be unlikely to be able to figure it out.

  • Be visual

Engineers, draftsmen and modellers are visual people; play to your strengths.

In our opinion, sketches and marked up drawings are a must. 3D models shared in industry foundation class (IFC) files, via a collaboration software (Navisworks / BIMSite) or by just marking up screenshots can really help get your message across. Engineering firms always seem nervous to share meta-data models, presumably due to concerns regarding PI or IP. Sort that out in your contracts. Sharing rich data can only help the design process.

  • Modularise, compartmentalise

“When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time”

Creighton Abrams.

I know I’m always pointing to software developers as an example, but they have this down. By breaking a project into a number of discreet modules or black boxes, it becomes easier to manage, check and delegate project design and builds.

What’s more, by outsourcing small to begin with, you can test people out, iron out any problems or common mistakes. Working in this way effectively creates a feedback loop for the project management process, and reduces the design risk associated with each aspect of work.

  • Examples of previous work

At the risk of winning Most Clichés in a Single Blog Post, there are so “many ways to skin a cat” that you need to tell people if you like things done in a certain way.

Provide a CAD drawing with the line types, font styles, standard notes and borders you want. Then, there’ll be no time-consuming discussions when the work needs to be approved. Example calculations or object ‘families’ in certain softwares are also great options for producing a good scope.

  • Communicate

I realise that perhaps this should be at the top… but I also realise that each of the previous points are, in essence, to do with ensuring effective communication.

EngLancer doesn’t restrict communication between parties. At all. In fact, we see it as the only way of ensuring effective, outsourced work. There has to be regular updates, a review of progress and the necessary feedback loop we mentioned earlier.

The most important point to make here: if there are problems with the work, communicate them. Be specific, be visual, use examples of previous work to highlight the discrepancy and what is required. After all, there’s no such thing as a bad student (definitely won that award…)

We would say this. But EngLancer, through its financial safeguards, provides a management tool that forces the specifier to more rigorously scope delegated or outsourced work. It provides a framework for effective design delivery, with specific gates at which decisions and payments are made.

And our review, rating and feedback systems make it so that chances are, you’ll find the right guy for the job. You can see whether he’s done that type of work before, the value of jobs he’s successfully delivered, in which companies and to which design codes.

As I stated earlier, whether you delegate tasks in-house or to an outsider, the principles and techniques we’ve discussed here will be effective. You can ensure appropriate review of packages simply by implementing a rigorous project management and QA procedure. Without EngLancer.

Bear in mind, though, for an employee or contractor who delivered poor quality work or took twice as long as agreed, you still have to pay. You don’t with EngLancer. With EngLancer, you only pay for results.

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