On Time | On Budget | Under Control

Choosing a Partner for Engineering Design Services

See below for a full transcript.

Choosing an Engineering Design Services Partner

Hi folks, Steve Kapp here. Today’s topic is “How do you select the right partner for engineering design services?”

Now nFocal is an engineering design services company and we often wish that people would ask us a better, and more relevant, set of questions to vet us out more thoroughly. Here are the top four questions that we wish people would ask us.

On Time / On Budget / Under Control

Question number one: Hey potential partner, what’s your history for delivering projects on time, and on budget, and under control? Buyers have to be concerned if commitments from their partners are not always being met. Because who has the time, or the energy, to micromanage their project partners? Nobody!


Question number two: Hey potential partner, how do you communicate with your clients? Here is a hint: that style better be proactive, and productive. More than that, as a buyer, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than exceptional written and verbal communications, and above exceptional listening skills. Otherwise, a lot of frustration will build up. From our point of view, this is the number one reason why projects fail.

Unexpected Obstacles

Question number three: Hey potential partner, how do you deal with unexpected obstacles? Engineering projects have to deal with bumps in the road every day. So ask potential partners how they deal with adversity. Are they like a bull dog with a bone, or will they wilt like flower on a hot summer’s day?

Relevant Experience

Question number four: Hey potential partner, what is your relevant experience? Here you want to look at three specific areas.

Development Life Cycle

First area is your development life cycle. Where does engagement makes sense for your project? For example, are you looking for help with requirements or ideation? Choose a partner that’s walked those paths before. Do you need test automation infrastructure? Choose a partner that’s done that.


Second area is verticals. Does the partner play in your sandbox and understand your use cases? Want to connect your device to The Internet of Things? Choose a partner with an IOT background.


Third area is technologies. Does the partner have experience with your desired technologies? For example, are you building an imaging system? Then choose a partner that has already built imaging systems. Do you need a new feature in your embedded Linux design? Then use partners with embedded Linux expertise.

Those are our four favorite questions. See my post for a recap, and please reach out to me if you have comments or your own special horror stories about choosing a partner.


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