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How Much Should Truss Design Outsourcing Cost? Part 1

Among many questions asked when a component manufacturer inquires about truss design outsourcing, one the first is always “How much does it cost?” It would seem to them that there could be a “one-size-fits-all” answer right? Wrong.

Each company has its own unique way of doing things. Each company has numerous differences in methodology and output. Five of the most common time-intensive differences are:

  • Architectural plan quality
  • Panel lengths and webbing preferences
  • Splicing preferences
  • Layout presentation and detail work
  • Submittal protocol and follow-up

In my many years in the truss design industry, I have worked in the production facility, as a designer and as a manager. However, I have yet to find a “one-size-fits-all” solution. There are just too many variances out there and too many different ways of doing things. From the equipment to the layout presentations, it is all different. Some companies have guys sitting next to each other doing things differently. Does management not realize that this is affecting the bottom line?

While all this may seem abstruse, let me help to clarify.

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Fact: Your cost should be comparable to what you would pay someone employed by your company. When deciphering what that number is (or should be), you have to look at all of the factors involved. Five of the most common employee costs are:

  • Salary costs (Including taxes)
  • Overhead
  • Heath benefits
  • Workman’s comp
  • Retirement benefits

Fiction: All remote design services are the same and should cost about the same amount. That’s kind of like going to McDonalds and looking for a Whopper. Each has its own unique distinction. Each has its own strength, its own forte.

Having done work in nearly every region in North America, I have seen a lot of what works and what doesn’t work. I have seen what’s most profitable and what isn’t. After several years of testing and research, I have crafted a pricing scheme that is customized to the individual project and its scope of complexity.

Utilizing this wealth of knowledge, I have begun to offer consulting and on-site training services to companies to help them become more profitable. Those that have exercised this option and executed my suggestions have recorded tremendous margin gains. They have also noticed enhanced efficiency and more uniformity.

FACT: Most folks do not outsource until there is no other option. Why? Fear, that’s why. Or perhaps its loss of control. Either way, I dare you to try to find a home in anywhere in North America without something in it that says “Made in China.” Why? Because it is less expensive!!!  Outsourcing your design can be also.

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A few thoughts to ponder:

  • Could you afford that product if it was made somewhere else?
  • Can you afford to turn jobs away because you don’t have enough staff to handle your incoming workload?
  • Perhaps you have had an abysmal experience with outsourcing and said “Never Again.” Was that source credible?
  • Where will your customer turn when you cannot deliver?
  • Who will fill the demand in your schedule?

In part 2 of this series I will go into more depth about costs. This article should serve to lay some framework about the things that must be considered. Remember: Not all outsourcing is the same. Be sure the one you choose to service your customer’s needs comes with an endorsement from your software provider. Beware of those that do not.

Stay tuned for part 2 in this series.

Christopher Gould – President

Gould Design, Inc.