Your company may devise various solutions to a customer’s requirements. You may internally debate which solution addresses the customers requirements the best. How should you weigh your own evaluation of the customer’s requirements with the customers? What if they don’t agree? Also, what if you discover multiple solutions that satify the customers requirements, but some cost a lot more and would make your firm a lot more money? Should you push that solution? If you did decide to go that route, what would the risks be?
Two replies for each one:
- Dian Yuan
When a feasibility analysis is accomplished, we will come up with several solutions to address the customers’ requirements. It’s common to have an internally debate on which solution is the best. As mentioned in the text, “To ensure that a good design concept is established from the beginning, all feasible functions should be identified, with the most rigorous functions being selected as the basis for defining system-level design requirements.” Therefore, to solve this issue, I will first look at the solution to evaluate whether it addresses all the primary functions of the system. All the primary and secondary functions are identified in the needs analysis. If the solution meets the primary requirements, I will further evaluate to see if it can meet the secondary requirements as many as possible. Besides, I will see if we can generate an overall technical approach from this best solution. I will use this approach to weigh my own evaluation of the customer’s requirements with the customers. If they don’t agree, I will see what causes the disagreement and try to address it by modifying the solution while making sure the system still meets their primary functions.
If I discover several solutions that satisfy the customers’ requirements, but some cost a lot more but would make the firm a lot more money, I will evaluate the solution again by checking its performance, effectiveness, logistics and maintenance support requirements, and life-cycle economic criteria (Week 3 Lecture). After the evaluation, if it’s still the best solution, I will see if it’s worth it to invest more money on the solution based on the primary requirements. If it’s worth it, then I will recommend it to the customers, even if the cost is high. But if it’s not worth it, even it will make my firm a lot more money, I will not recommend the solution to the customers. Engineers should always put the customers’ benefits as their first priority. If I pushed that solution to make the firm more money, the customers might find the solution cost too much, and therefore would think our solution is not the best. They may not hire us to solve their problems any more. The firm loses money in the long term.
Engineering is the professional art of applying science to the optimum conversion of the resources of nature to benefit man. A successful engineer is prepared for decision making on complex problems in broad areas. An engineer’s first priority should be his customer’s need. It is very important to understand the customer’s need in order to cater to him in the best way possible. Every customer has different needs. Sometimes, they may be disagreements between the engineer and the customer, but it is an engineer’s responsibility to handle all the needs and requirements of the customer effectively. If a customer is not satisfied with one option, it is an engineer’s responsibility to put forward various options for the customer to choose from. The engineer should always enlighten the customer about the pros and cons of every plan. A customer may not understand the technical knowhow of the product but an engineer must make sure that the customer chooses the best option available. Unlike the scientists, the engineer is not free to select the problem that interests him; he must solve problems as they arise; his solution must satisfy conflicting requirements.
If an engineer discovers options that cost more, he should force the customer towards that direction. It should be left on the customer to do the decision making whether he is comfortable investing in that costly plan or not. Yet, if it possible for an engineer to come up with a better and at the same time cost-effective solution, he should. Money should not be the driving force of the engineer’s profession; after all it’s engineering and not business. An engineer’s duty is to cater to the betterment of the society and not just make money.