I recently had the opportunity to facilitate a value proposition exercise with leaders from four of our engineering business units. My company, DISHER, provides engineering talent for engineering teams involved in new product development, product engineering, process/manufacturing engineering, as well as electronics/hardware and software engineering.

As a service provider, we need to connect to what matters most to our customers. As an engineering leader, what brings you the most value? What helps you reach your goals? As our founder, Jeff Disher, always says, “What helps you sleep at night?”

I met with each of our engineering groups in our whiteboard room to capture their thoughts and experiences. We had subject matter experts, business leaders, and customer success managers in the room or online.

We spent our time talking about YOU. Using the Strategyzer framework, we discussed our customer profiles, the jobs our customers do, the pains they have, and the gains/outcomes they want.

Then we talked about how we can relieve these pains and create gains—to ultimately create value for our customers. Maybe you have done this type of work with your teams to keep your value proposition in alignment with your customer’s needs and wants. It’s a worthwhile practice.

After hearing what our engineering business leaders had to say, we noticed some common themes. (On a side note, we’ve been interviewing several engineering customers directly which has confirmed these pains and gains.)

Here’s our summary of what you, as an engineering leader, want most from the engineering talent you hire.

Top 5 Things Engineering Leaders Need from an Engineering Contractor

Technical Expertise and Experience

This was by far the #1 response. Many of you have too few resources or too many skills gaps. Yet you have ongoing pressure to develop, manufacture, and launch innovative products within a set timeline and budget to meet business goals. You value experts who are highly skilled and experienced—engineers who have demonstrated success with similar projects who will hit the ground running.

Communication Skills

This was another major pain point. As a leader, you want engineering partners who are responsive, transparent, and trustworthy. Clear and consistent communication is crucial to project success and momentum. The ability to openly discuss scope changes, design updates, supplier shortages, timelines, etc. is imperative. Nobody likes surprises—you can’t afford them.

Problem-Solving Abilities

You’re looking for more than transactional contractors who punch in and punch out. You want engineering advocates who will proactively work on what’s right for your unique challenges. Partners who identify root cause problems and solve complex issues independently will bring long-term value. Outside perspectives and multi-industry, cross-functional knowledge will nurture fresh, innovative ideas.

Trendway Value Stream


Ideally, you want the ability to hire the skills you need, when you need them, for as long as you need them. You have felt the pinch of skilled labor shortages and turnover, yet you still need to move projects forward. The ability to augment your team with the specific skills you need helps you manage your projects on time and on budget.

Project Leadership

Most of you are spread too thin. You need partners you can trust to act on your behalf. A partner who can encourage team collaboration and build unity will help everyone perform better. Good project leaders work well with all types of stakeholders. They provide reliable delivery of quality work within deadlines. They can adapt to changing project requirements or environments and manage difficult discussions with a high degree of integrity and professionalism.

Do you agree with this list? What keeps you up at night? What do you want in an engineering contractor?

Recently, we had a customer share his personal experience with contracting engineering services. His story illustrates both poor and positive engineering contractor relationships. Yes, full disclosure… the positive example happens to be about DISHER engineers. But read what this engineering leader has to say. It may resonate with you.

Be careful who you partner with for contract engineering.

We are a small team that is growing. We have many of the same issues that larger companies have with the ebbs and flows of workload and being faced with either bringing on additional headcount or bringing in temporary help.

In my career, I have seen both sides of the coin. When I worked for a Japanese-owned company, they never brought in outside help and just taxed our workforce a little more. When I worked for an American-owned contractor, they brought in too much temp help, and many were not all that helpful.

Now I’m at Buell. In the past, we partnered with an overseas engineering aid company in a low-cost country for a project to help us with virtual validation and model/drawing creation. We gave them a scope of work of around 30-ish parts. They promised us a lead time of around a month and a half for drawing completion. After a very stressful three months of going back and forth, we finally got all the drawings at a level that I (and some of our suppliers) were a bit disappointed in. I was spending too much of my time correcting drawings over and over and over again. Eventually, we just had to accept the drawings and move on.

To say the least, because of my experience working at a military contracting company, my view of contractors was a bit jaded. It was difficult for me to work with engineering aid. However, working with engineers from DISHER has completely changed my mind. We brought three engineers in to do a very specific task: create around 100 drawings to enable our purchasing team to work in parallel with our design team and shorten overall project duration.

What has happened is DISHER cranked out over 160 drawings, helped clean up and generate CAD, and added extra value by developing manufacturing of composite design templates for the future. They have performed way above and beyond my expectations and have provided great conversations while doing so!”

Matt Laurent | Engineering Leader at Buell Motorcycle

As an engineering leader, you are in the driver’s seat to select the right talent to help you achieve your objectives and goals.

There are many options out there. Look for the partner that will deliver not only the pain relievers (skills, problem-solving, PM) you need but the gain creators (improved processes, cross-functional abilities, flexibility) for your long-term success.

At DISHER, it is our mission to make a positive difference with you. Let us know how we can help.