Today, many companies are struggling to fill engineering roles but aren’t always aware of the flexible engineering staffing models they can leverage to help them meet their project needs — all while managing product costs, reducing time-to-market, and improving product quality. In this blog, we’ll explore how working with an experienced engineering partner such as Simplexity can offer beneficial solutions to help mitigate even temporary in-house staffing challenges.
*With US unemployment figures for May 2023 reported at just 3.7%, many companies are struggling to hire and retain top notch talent. Current market uncertainty and numerous global influences are impacting overall business stability and long-range planning, making it critical to adjust plans to changing workforce needs.
In the engineering space this can be a particular challenge because without the right technical brain trust in play, it’s impossible to design and engineer tomorrow’s “next big thing”. So, what to do? Many leading technology companies are getting creative to help meet this challenge.
Hybrid Engineering Development Team Models
A trend gaining traction, while not new by any means, is to leverage a range of hybrid development team models for engineering project work. Often, this includes in-house teams partnering actively with fractional or specialized outsourced teams to complete an engineering project. In a 2021 Global Outsourcing Survey, Deloitte reports that respondents were asked how their organizations perceive the benefits of outsourcing. 65% indicated that outsourcing helped them focus on core functions, while 63% indicated that cost-cutting was another key benefit.
Focusing on Core Strengths
When engineering teams expand their view to include outsourced design engineering experts, a few things can happen. Typically, in considering a hybrid team working model, an analysis is done to map project needs to existing available staff competencies. If core strengths exist in-house with capacity to manage project work in that space, then the in-house team can prioritize their staffing model there. They can then outsource other project areas or areas where the in-house team doesn’t have specialized expertise to outside resources.
The outcome of this working model can result in project completion efficiencies while providing in-house team members the ability to maintain better focus, often working more in the areas that the company wishes to retain in-house intellectual property or areas of greatest individual interest and competency. This ultimately can lead to greater personal satisfaction in their work and increased retention potential.
Workforce Need Fluctuations
Another factor is project workload fluctuations. Adding external resources to manage flexible engineering bandwidth unburdens internal teams while also minimizing management stresses and operational concerns related to variable engineering needs. The process of hiring and onboarding in-house staff can be costly and time-consuming, particularly with limited employee pools to draw from these days. Additionally, if workforce needs fluctuate or are unpredictable in today’s business climate, finding outsourced or fractional engineering talent can be more cost efficient since outsourced teams can be decreased during down-times and then increased again during high-need times.
Flexible Engineering Development Team Models
At Simplexity, our clients rely on us to provide flexible development team models to augment a variety of needs. Even within a single client, those models can vary widely, depending on the requirements of each project. In some cases, 100% of the design engineering is done by Simplexity engineers. In others, a client’s team may manage requirements gathering and direct engineering priorities for our engineering teams. In a more collaborative model, a client’s in-house engineers design certain parts of a system and use Simplexity engineers for specialized support in particular areas of the project. In a more hands-off model, Simplexity systems engineers can provide an integrated systems analysis that the client’s team then implements.
Finding Reliable Engineering Partners
Having confidence in your chosen engineering partners is hugely important. The finished product must function within product performance parameters and there has to be accountability to meet project requirements. It goes without saying that not all engineering is created equal. Clients frequently ask Simplexity to fix existing prototypes or inefficient designs created by other engineering groups that need simplification or cost-reduction. Clients appreciate that Simplexity engineers are committed to engineering excellence with deep roots in manufacturability and that their ability to collaborate in a variety of work models is second nature.
Comparing Outsourced Service Models
Simplexity VP of Engineering, Doug Harriman, has authored an informative whitepaper “A Comparative Evaluation of 4 Outsourcing Engineering Service Models” that provides a review of different working models with pros and cons articulated for each. This paper provides useful insights that might help inform resourcing decisions for your upcoming projects.
Deciding on the Right Development Team Model for your Project
The first step in deciding the right development team model for you is to have a detailed conversation with any potential outsourcing engineering partners to determine the best path to completing your product design work as efficiently as possible.
It’s critical to build the right kind of working relationship with a design engineering firm. The best design engineering firms are flexible enough to always keep the client’s best interests central to project execution. Ideally, the outsourced design engineering firm selected will have the depth and breadth of personnel to enable flexibility in how they engage with and/or augment available internal teams to optimize design quality outcomes — all, while aligning with available budgets, product timelines and internal staff proficiencies.
While there is considerable flexibility in ways one can engage outsourced engineering services, it’s critical to evaluate several factors before moving ahead.
- Do existing internal resources have the needed skill sets to complete the project?
- Can your project schedule endure the delay of any needed internal hiring process?
- What confidence is there in internal abilities are best prioritized around the needs of this project?
- What are the downsides if outside expertise isn’t leveraged?
- Is the engineering staff need ongoing or will it fluctuate based on project delivery timelines?
- Which engineering service model helps you maximize development efficiency and optimize design quality?
Every company’s needs, budgets, and internal resources will help dictate uniquely how to best proceed. Making optimal use of outside resources is pivotal to product development success.
If you need to add capacity to your engineering team and want to explore different outsourcing engineering options with Simplexity, we’d love to help you. Please contact us if you’d like to discuss your needs and what you are working on.
*This blog, How a Flexible Engineering Development Team Can Help Solve Hiring Challenges, was updated on June 8th, 2023.