We have, on a few occasions now, come across an unexpected practice since launching the EngLancer platform. If I’m entirely truthful, when we set about building and launching the site, we didn’t appreciate how useful it could be for freelancers or smaller firms to outsource to the bigger engineering consultancies. I envisaged the majority of work flow to be from big to smaller organisations. In certain situations though we have seen the exact opposite. I have been surprised by the amount of work that small/micro organisations are looking to pass on to “the big boys”.
The reasons for this unexpected trend however, do make perfect business sense. Startup or micro engineering consultancies of course don’t have the same resources as large multinational firms. They don’t have the expensive softwares, specialist skills or an abundance of available design engineers/technicians expediently available, which would allow them to quickly turn round a design package or project.
For the larger firms, work from such sources allows them to iron out any lulls in work-load. It also allows them to make efficient use of all their resources…with that fantastic piece of FEM/CFD software no longer, as a consequence, sat gathering dust until the next large scale project lands. It also means staff can gain further experience or exposure on (perhaps) lower risk or less commercially sensitive projects. That is, more junior staff can cut their teeth, or that the skills of more experienced guys don’t become rusty between the big packages of work.
One contact of ours actually described the practice as being “an effective way of growing your sales team”. That is, smaller firms are out there actively seeking work that they can make a fee on, with the large firms cost of sale therefore negligible as a consequence. The bigger firm also doesn’t have to fulfil the same client facing role as within a more standard project.
Of course, a lot of the relationships we have come across have developed and evolved naturally. It has taken a number of years and projects to build up the working relationship and trust that makes working in such a way efficient and profitable. Business today though is such that to go through such a process (or such a process again) isn’t feasible given the time and price constraints associated with many engineering projects. Access to the EngLancer network, the payment and QA processes we enforce do though provide an effective and efficient ‘hack’, which will allow your organisations (whatever its size) to take advantage of these very sensible business practices.
The current one-to-one relationships could also be seen as limited because the larger firm might be too busy to accommodate the work or the lull in their workload might not align with the necessary deadlines for turning around the package of work. This is where we feel EngLancer’s access to a much larger engineering network or ‘crowd’ adds real value. Essentially its the aggregation of such engineering resources that is enabling us to reengineer the way we engineer.