By David Khanna, Director of Operations at Arolite
From mechanics to electrics, civil to software, engineering is one of the most in-demand skills of 2019, and is integral to keeping many of the UK’s businesses running smoothly.
But while the likes of aviation and energy need to employ specially trained engineers who are ready to deal with emergencies and handle classified data, engineers are also needed for smaller businesses in a range of industries. These companies have customers with varying demand requirements, skill sets and fulfilment strategies. As a result, they have been turning to outsourced engineer support more and more.
Opinions on outsourcing are very marmite. Some think it isn’t stable, and would rather have the reassurance of always having an engineer on hand. Similarly, some engineers may prefer to rely on the steadiness of a monthly pay cheque.
Whether it be in consulting, commercial services, creative media or automotive, the decision to outsource should not be taken lightly, but it can open both sides of the party up to a wealth of benefits:
You might have a sudden influx of workload, and you need more manpower. But that shouldn’t always mean that you hire new people. How can you guarantee that they will have work after that rush dies down? You need to make sure that you have work to fill their position and avoid them twiddling their thumbs.
Of course, if you know that you have room for steady flow of work that fits their specialism, by all means go for it. But by adopting an outsourced freelance model, you have the flexibility to scale up in times of high demand, and scale down when it’s quieter. Only pay for what you’re using – if you’re a consulting company and offer maintenance on products you’ve supplied, for example, you don’t need a 24/7 engineer.
With a larger pool of full time engineers, you have larger overheads. For smaller businesses who don’t have the work to keep them busy all the time, outsourcing makes sense to significantly reduce downtime.
Offer a Personalised Approach
Engineers have niches and specialities – like all different professionals do. What works well for one might not work well for another, so if you have a pool to choose from when you need to, it means that you’re only hiring the best. Nobody can be a one-size-fits-all, but if you only have one engineer available from your employees, you’re forced to send them to the job.
If you outsource, you can make sure that you’re always using the right person with relevant skills for the job, and not offering a default strategy. This approach is cost-effective and helps you react to preventative maintenance or repairs smartly. By having a pool of engineers that you can choose from with varying specialisms, you’ll soon be able to know who to send for a right-first-time basis. Depending on where your business is based, it’s also wise to seek contracted engineers around the country to have on hand.
Deal with Tight Deadlines
Projects of all shapes and sizes can come in, and realistically, you might not be able to handle a sudden tight deadline or repair times. If you’re in the development sector especially, time to market can have a huge impact on profitability.
One of the greatest benefits of outsourcing engineers is the wealth of expertise and information that it adds to your offering. It takes a strong business to acknowledge when a project is simply outside of their business boundaries – whether that is expertise or time-wise. You might not have the time or budget to upskill your employees in order to meet a deadline, as there simply isn’t the people. Contractors can come on board and help you to achieve optimum results in short turnaround times.
Gain a Trusted Partner
Of course, you cannot expect a freelancer to have the same knowledge of your business or the same passion as an employee. But they will be able to offer a consulting approach, help with technical documentation and advise. They will also offer an outside perspective from someone who works outside of the organisation, to show new ways of doing things and develop strategies.
Business is about profitability. You’re constantly looking for ways to control costs in inventory and reduce hours, and contractors don’t have to cost the world. They’ll want to take pride in their work, but you also don’t have to worry about having difficult conversations with them if they’re not fulfilling the jobs given to them – you simply stop giving them the work.
Engineers can become Entrepreneurs
Many of us have always wanted to start our own business, and engineers, who often get paid more than employees if they become contractors, can expect to see real financial and self gains. They can offer their services to targeted smaller operations and start ups or build a larger empire and employing their own offering of engineers. Contractors are likely to have greater flexibility, work/life balance and focus on the specific work that they enjoy and excel at.
Contracted engineers often feel like that can be more innovative, have a creative ability that you don’t get if you’re just another number in a firm, and they have the added freedom of deciding what work they take on, what hours they work and when they go on holiday.
Of course, this freedom means that businesses need to have a contingency plan in place if one of your contractors is unavailable – but this is why preparation is key.
Maintenance, manufacturing, product development and discovery are all key to digital transformation, and engineers are the backbone of it. If you have specific one-off projects coming up or find yourself not having the specialism or capacity in-house to tackle an array of challenges, you don’t need to work your employees into oblivion, you can outsource engineers to achieve results that you can’t. You can offer a personalised approach, give your customers the service that they need, and no longer have to worry about excessive downtime.