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Using an outsource drafting service

Over the years Resource: Engineering, Inc. has worked on a wide variety of projects with many diverse clients from coast to coast.  Most of the projects were successful, some more than others.  A few did not turn out as hoped for, ether by the client or by us.  Those unfortunate projects got us to thinking about how and why they went wrong.  What could be done to fix the problems?

One of the things we’ve noticed was that with each of these bad jobs a lack of communication and “ownership” of the project seemed to exist.  We noticed that in some cases our client seemed to feel that by sending us the plans for a job their involvement was over.  “Simply send the plans wait a few weeks and out comes a completed set of drawings with all the issues identified, all the problems solved and all details exactly the way they and the shop liked them”.  Unfortunately that’s not the case.  We’ve come to the realization that in order for a project to be successful between a woodworker and an out-source drafting company communication and ownership must be present.  This is not to say that these are the only two things which need be present, but when ether of these are missing, poor results are almost certain.

Any time you subcontract or “outsource” work, you tend to loose some control, that’s natural.  And in many cases, if you are outsourcing work, it’s because you don’t have the time to do it yourself.  However you can minimize the loss of control by how you think about and treat the subcontractor.   A good outsource supplier will try hard to learn your preferences and methods.  But unless the sub is someone who’s worked in your office chances are that they aren’t going to know how your company does everything.   The customer who thinks of the sub as someone who’s going to do a job and “I don’t have to be involved” will soon be disappointed.  In the successful customer/vendor relationship, the customer must think of the supplier as a set of tools to help him or her complete their job.  The craftsmen doesn’t expect the tool to do all the thinking (a nice concept but a long way off).   The craftsman maintains the tool, supplies the materials and power and generally creates an environment for the tool to do its work.   When using a drafting subcontractor, the customer must assign a contact person to answer questions about drafting standards, construction methods, standard manufacturing preferences, preferred hardware, scope issues, inconsistencies in the construction and design documents and more.  This contact person must have responsibility within the customers company for the outcome of the project (at least from the engineering standpoint).  This contact must understand that even though they may be spending a lot of time answering questions and tracking down information in the long run they are saving time by getting the “drafting grunt work” done.

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