capacity issuesMany of our clients struggle with capacity issues, whether it’s finding the balance between number of projects and number of engineers/designers or it’s the aftermath of company restructuring. In any case, you don’t want to end up with too many projects and not enough people or too many people and not enough projects.

We recently completed a project with a division of a Fortune 500 company that had gone through a major restructuring. Large numbers of people were let go, and many that stayed were shuffled to other product lines. Only a fraction of the designers/engineers were left. Yet the list of products to be developed, some of which were right in the middle of the development phase, did not change. Adding to the struggle was a hiring freeze.

This and similar scenarios are common. Organizations tend to deal with these challenges in one of three ways:

  1. They force their engineering staff to work overtime.
  2. They ignore timelines and “do what they can do.”
  3. They contract with an outside design service to temporarily increase their design/engineering capacity.

 

Options one and two might work—for a short time. Rallying the team to put in extra time and effort works, but over time the rally call will fade. Ignoring timelines and just “doing what you can do” also works, but eventually upper management won’t accept missed deadlines. Working with an outside design and engineering service, however, is the option that many engineering managers turn to.

Impulse Product Development understands that we’ll only be used on an as-needed basis. We expect fluctuation in work, and we’re efficient at dealing with it. While our goal is to develop long-term relationships with our clients, we know each time we’re hired, it’s a temporary situation. This allows a company to boost their capacity without hiring full-time staff, and any associated costs can be easily managed. We’ve worked with a lot of companies that bring us on for these reasons, here are two examples.

One of our clients that develops a tremendous number of consumer products maintains a conservatively sized design and engineering staff. Their goal is to never lay off an employee due to market conditions. When they need additional design, engineering, or simply CAD resources, they call us. Sometimes we’ll work on only one project with them. Other times we’ll work on four or five. If/when the workload drops, we get “laid off”—not their employees. This is standard operating procedure for Impulse, and it maintains morale within our client’s company.

The second example involves the same company. We were asked to help out with a project that was in the middle of the product development cycle, complete with certain milestones to be met such as release for tooling quote and tooling release. Impulse was able to come in, quickly gain an understanding of the project, and help them reach each of their timeline goals. Here’s what the Senior Manager for the product line said about Impulse’s involvement on the project:

When I reached out to Impulse, we were in the middle of developing a ground up product. We had just gone through a major restructuring in which I lost a significant portion of my internal design and engineering capacity. We still had a project to finish, and we had to hit customer deadlines that were set before the restructuring. Impulse flew to our offices the next week to meet with our team, to gain an understanding of how we operate, and to fully align on the objectives for the project. We communicated well enough throughout the project that Impulse completed all of the design tasks from their offices, which helped keep the cost down. Impulse’s experience and speed allowed us to release data for tooling on time, under budget, and at a higher level of detail than we are accustomed to. Our upper management team now uses our experience with Impulse as an example of how to leverage outside resources when we are struggling with capacity issues.

Outsourcing portions of your product development or product design isn’t for everyone, but many companies view it as a helpful alternative. We’ve helped many clients work through the challenges of fluctuating staff requirements. If you’re interested in learning more about Impulse Product Development, or if you’d like to have a conversation to see if we may be a fit for your company, please contact us.

 

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