In nearly every manufacturing industry, from automotive to entertainment, there comes a time for most companies when they realize they don’t have the manpower they need to complete new development in a timely fashion. Whether you’re working on your next show property, or your team just can’t seem to find that perfect design you’re hoping for, it’s occasionally necessary to bring in outside help for a creativity injection and to take some of the additional workload off your busy team’s hands.
In situations where it makes sense to temporarily bring in a third party, companies have two choices:
- Hire a contractor. This is usually one person, sometimes a few more, who will come to your facility to work with your team on the project you need completed.
- Hire a product development firm. When you partner with a product development firm, your company will be assigned a specially selected team of designers and engineers to conceptualize and create the new product you’re looking for.
Depending on the type of work you need accomplished, you may choose one way or the other, but it’s important to first understand the pros and cons of each option, so you can select the out-of-house help that’s most likely to yield the result you need.
What they do: When you hire a contractor to help with the creation and development of a new product, you’re essentially hiring a new employee, but without the risk, and on a specific timeline, for a specific purpose. Most contractors work, unsurprisingly, under a contract. That contract states exactly what your company needs from them, and who they need to work with to do it. Typically, that contract will also stipulate a timeline, expressing clearly how long the contractor has to complete the work.
- Contractors often work in your offices, with your existing team.
- You can hire a contractor with a specific skill set your team may not already have.
- You have an employee in-house, who you don’t have to pay large overhead fees like health insurance or benefits. You simply pay contractors for their time, which makes them cheaper than hiring a new full-time employee, or sending the project out to a product design firm.
- You pay a contractor for their time until the job is complete. When the job is done, you both move on.
- The contractor can handle the special projects that the rest of your team simply doesn’t have time for.
- When you hire a contractor, you only get one person. That means you hire either a designer or an engineer for new product development. With just one contractor, much of the work of feasibility will still fall on the shoulders of your existing team. While a contractor can help alleviate the work burden, your new product development will still put more work on the rest of your in-house team.
- With a contractor, what you see is what you get. You’ll have an additional person, with a unique skill set coming into your office every day, but they won’t bring additional equipment or technology with them. If they need special programs or machines, your company will have to provide it.
Projects Best Suited to Contractors:
Contractors are best for special projects your team is working on that could use just a bit more manpower. If your team has already come up with concepts and just needs help properly engineering a new product, a contractor may be able to come in and help you out on that one specific piece of the project.
Contractors are best suited for projects that your team already has well in hand but need a bit of additional experience or a unique skill set to get the job done.
Product Development Firm
What they do: A product development firm provides a more wholistic service than a contractor, and they typically function outside of your office. A product development firm can take a concept or a new product development brief, and turn it from a simple sketch on paper into reality. A true partner in your business, a product development firm can work with you to consider concepts, decide on design, and then actually make your innovative new product work, though you may not need them for every step of the way.
- Scalability: When you work with a product development or industrial design firm, you’ll get exactly the number of people you need to create your product on your deadline. A great firm will have both designers and engineers, leveraging both skill sets to create and realize an innovative, functional product unlike anything else on the market.
- Move extra work off in-house employees: When you shift new product development, even for just one product, over onto an design and engineering firm, you alleviate your workers of a massive workload that may have been crushing their productivity. Without the additional burden, your in-house team is able to perform their jobs efficiently.
- Added creativity: With a whole new team working on your new concept, you’ll hear ideas and thoughts you’ve never heard before. It’s too easy to fall into standard procedure in-house — bringing in an outside team can help jumpstart innovation.
- No overhead fees: When you hire a product development firm, that firm already has all of the tools they need to complete your project. You don’t have to shell out for a new machine or rendering software since that’s what the development firm does every single day. They’ll already have the specialized machinery necessary for the job.
- Higher Cost: It should come as no surprise that hiring an entire firm will cost more than hiring one contractor. Outsourcing a project or a new product to a development firm can seem like an expensive upfront cost, but when you consider what you’re getting for your money, the benefits are clear. You’ll have an entire team of specialized professionals dedicated to working on your project, and your project alone. That means you get the innovative solution you’re looking for, on your timeline.
Projects Best Suited to Product Development Firms:
Product development firms are best suited to mid-sized to larger-scale projects. Whether you have a big once-a-year show that you need a stunning show property for, or you’re looking for fresh innovation in some aspect of a new product, product development firms can help you with any aspect of your new concept.
From drawing up bold designs, all the way through feasibility testing and production, an industrial design or product development firm is truly your partner in the innovation process and will work with you every step of the way.
If your company needs help creating, designing, or building a new product, get in touch with Fredricks Design. A full-scale product development firm delivering creative product solutions, we want to know what we can innovate for you.