11/25/20 4:27 pm

You have an engineering project, but you don’t know whether independent development or a manufacturing partnership is right for you. Here are some of the pros and cons.

Independent Development

To manufacture a product, you need the design, engineering, and manufacturing skills to turn an idea into a finished product.

If you don’t have all three of these skills readily available, the typical solution is to hire an independent firm for each development aspect. You would need a software developer to design the software and an engineering firm to draw up the specifications. You would approach a factory and present them with your engineering documents and software.

Manufacturing Partnerships

Entering into a manufacturing partnership takes away much of the stress and concerns you have with independent development. It means a company like Mars International handles all of the elements required to bring a project through to completion. They deal with the hardware design, developing the software, logistics, production, and quality control. When hiring a company to do everything on your behalf, saves you time and effort, allowing you to focus on what you do best.

The Five Metrics of Engineering Projects

When forming a partnership for your engineering project, there are five ways you can measure how effective your design and manufacturing process is.


Specialization reduces costs. When you deal with a company specializing in only software design, they will be better at it than a company that does a little of everything.

An issue can arise if you experience delays and integration issues that can increase costs. With an independent developer, you need to hire them on a retainer after the project is completed to deal with likely problems.

A manufacturing partnership potentially gives you cost savings by purchasing multiple services through them. They may be more expensive initially, as they give you a bulk price for everything instead of a specific price for just the software. This approach saves you money in the long run as they are responsible for support should something go wrong in the future. Also, you would not need to pay a retainer, like you would in an independent partnership.


Time is also an important consideration to go from design to market because time costs money.

Manufacturing as a partnership has an upside; they can offer discounts for multiple services and potentially give you time savings throughout the project. They can move quickly from one phase to another as they don’t have to transfer files from their software team to your hardware team before they can begin testing.

They also save time, not waiting for each component to begin manufacturing. The manufacturing partner controls everything in-house, leading to smooth transitions between each phase.


An engineering project’s reliability relates to how likely a company is to stay on schedule and budget. With independent developers, they tend to have more software engineers working on staff, not all of them necessarily dedicated to your project. With a manufacturing partner, they may have fewer software engineers; however, it reduces your development time as they are dedicated to your project.

If you’re running five or six different independent developers, if one of them causes a delay, this will delay your entire project. The most significant risk that can occur with independent software developers is holding back the source code or drawings. Always ensure you are upfront about getting the source code and original drawings.

With a manufacturing partnership, you deal with a single project manager where you receive regular updates on what is happening, who is working on the project, and highlight possible issues in real-time. If one group is delayed, the rest of the project won’t cost additional money. Anytime a project is delayed with an independent contractor, you must keep the others on retainer even when they are sitting idle waiting for another group to finish their part in the process.


Flexibility is dependent on how easy it is to make changes once development has begun. Let’s say you’re designing a project that needs to check on the temperature, and halfway through, you realize you also want to check on humidity. How well can you change the software to allow that or say it doesn’t fit in the space that you originally built it for? With a manufacturing partnership, it’s easy to go to the hardware team and discuss changes.


Quality, in this case, refers to field quality. If a product is returned, who deals with the quality issues, or if there is an update required who updates the product? 

Handling quality in independent development beyond replacing the product can be very tricky. You will have to go through a lot of recontacting to update the quality of a product. For example, if there is a hardware defect you’ll need to recontact the hardware manufacturer to be able to solve the problem. This can lead to a lot of issues, and many times people end up replacing the product rather than fixing it.

In a manufacturing partnership, there is a quality department determining the responses to returned materials. At Mars, this department checks on quality at the factory level to help prevent issues before they arise. Furthermore, the software team is part of the manufacturing partnership. This allows issues with the manufacturing process to be easily adjusted since they are part of the team and can revise the product as needed. 

Key Takeaways:

  • The five ways to measure your design and manufacturing process are costs, time, reliability, flexibility, and quality. 
  • Entering into a manufacturing partnership takes away much of the stress and concerns you have with independent development.
  • You would need a software developer to design the software and an engineering firm to draw up the specifications with independent development.

Mars Internationaprovides value to its customers by delivering electrical and mechanical assemblies and finished goods through an extensive world-class manufacturing network. Contact us to determine how we can save you time and money and deliver a quality, reliable, and flexible project.