President and Engineering Manager at Fast Interconnect
Let’s face it, choosing the right engineering company is hard. It is like a blind date. I don’t know you and you don’t know me. Suspicion and distrust are normal, especially when you will be asked to fork over some of your hard earned cash to get the project done.
So, one would ask, how in the world do I go about choosing the right company?
It really comes down to an interview. Ask the questions that are important to you and to your project, and if you are getting the runaround then run away as fast as possible.
Things to keep in mind when you are interviewing a potential partner in your project, is to understand how they do business.
Do they have and keep up the most current revs of the CAD and CAE software suites?
Are they willing to spend time with you and outline the process and how it works?
Do they have the ability to start and finish your project for you?
Do the research.
Create the schematic.
Create the PCB layout.
Completing a prototype assembly.
Developing the firmware.
Perform debug and test.
Provide a technical guide and test report.
Are they able to integrate your ideas into a final product that you can go and sell to the world?
Are they willing to protect your ideas and project with a written guarantee and more importantly a legal document?
This process of choosing an engineering partner is a two way street. The company representative will or at least should be asking you questions and setting expectations on potential costs and potential timelines. They need to understand your ideas, the inputs, the outputs, what you want it to do with them.
Cost is an area of concern. If a company low-balls you on the quote to get your business, buyer-beware. They ARE going to hit you with additional costs later on and that is not a good situation at all.
Since this relationship will be a long term relationship, it is important that each side get to know each other and talk about the project goals. Talk about money. Yes, have the talk. They need to know IF you can pay them and HOW you will do it. You need to know what you are going to get for your cash as well as HOW and WHEN.
When they send you the estimate does it outline the timeline and milestones? It should, if it doesn’t ask them to do that. If they cannot give one to you, go somewhere else and start the process over again.
Finally, a contract is important as this is your money, your project. You own it, not them; and they should be wiling to sign a contract that spells that out.
How does Fast Interconnect score up against the above? That is something that you will need to determine based on your experience when you speak to us.
About the Author: Gary has over 30 year experience ranging from new IC development and test, ATE interfaces and consumer products development.