Common Questions and Concerns
Particularly for those who are not yet used to utilize technical consulting services, there may initially be a number of questions and concerns. Generally, it is a good idea to take the straightforward approach: contact RP Photonics to discuss your thoughts, and you will quickly see whether an attractive solution is offered. On this page, you can read about some commonly encountered issues.
Isn't it complicated to organize the interaction with an external consultant?
No, usually not at all:
- Via e-mail or telephone you can quickly find out what kind of help is available and what are the conditions.
- If a basic agreement is reached in this way, you will soon receive a contract draft from RP Photonics – with clear wording and fair to the client. If necessary, modifications or amendments can be quickly done.
- Then, the contract is signed by both parties, and the work can begin – for small projects often within very few working days.
Currently we only have some smaller technical issue; is it worth to make a consulting project out of this?
RP Photonics is happy to serve clients also within small projects, having a volume of only few working days, or even a single day. These can already be very useful. For example, RP Photonics may often within just two days check whether a planned patent application makes sense, or how it should be improved.
Besides, a small project constitutes an excellent opportunity to see how this kind of services really works.
How can a consultant working in Europe cure a laser in the United States? Won't it involve frequent and expensive traveling?
RP Photonics does most jobs over the distance. This applies not only to design work, but also to problem solving: most problems are most efficiently investigated by analyzing the laser design, not by looking at the device. The customer then obtains a technical report which explains the cause of the problem and gives precise recommendations for design modifications or sometimes for further tests. See also a Spotlight article on that topic.
However, a visit at the customer's location can of course be arranged. Particularly in the case of staff training, this just belongs to the job, and is more efficient than requiring several people of the customer's staff to travel somewhere.
Don't we undermine our in-house expertise if we outsource technical developments?
You might indeed undermine it, if you were really outsourcing the development. However, this is not what RP Photonics is usually doing or suggesting! The concept is to strengthen your in-house expertise by supporting your development process with external help, rather than doing the actual development externally.
For example, RP Photonics may work out the design of a laser product for you. You will then usually build and test the prototype in your own laboratory, supported by the detailed checks and calculations which RP Photonics has done to ensure that your work will be most efficient and risks are minimized. And your internal engineering staff can profit a lot from digesting a well written design report, as delivered by RP Photonics. The direction of know-how transfer is at least as obvious in the case of in-house staff training.
Effectively, by using RP Photonics' services, you are not replacing your in-house expertise with external one, but rather developing your in-house expertise in the most efficient way. Clients are often quite excited when realizing that they can buy vital know-how from RP Photonics, just as they need it.
This all sounds nice, but how can a small company afford this?
Whether your company is small or large, you need to take the most cost-effective strategy to reach your goals. If you are sure that this means to do everything yourself, just do it. Often enough, however, it is much more efficient to let a high-level expert check the most critical issues; you can still have most of the work done by your internal staff. For example, by building your prototype based on a well worked out product design, rather than on trial and error, you can greatly improve the efficiency of your team. You also reduce various risks – e.g. that of having the development project (and consequently its financial return) delayed, or that of discovering nasty caveats after the beginning of the production.
In conclusion, particularly for a small company it is often most sensible to get the advice of a specialized expert as it is needed, rather than either to permanently employ such an expert, or to carry out expensive development projects without careful checks of the critical issues.
Besides, we assure you that we always charge only for real work delivered. We hate it e.g. if certain professionals charge for 30 minutes of work when only answering an e-mail in a few lines. We certainly avoid such practices which are unfair and undermine any trust.
How can I be sure that our information is well protected?
The clients' trust is one of the essentials for any consultant. He would therefore have to be both ruthless and stupid to sell confidential information to third parties. (Would you trust anyone who makes such offers? Guess for how long such a consultant would survive!) Be assured that the person behind RP Photonics is neither ruthless nor stupid, and will protect his high reputation by strictly maintaining highest standards.
Note that someone not finding sufficient trust in this situation should actually not use any own employees either, as these learn a lot of internal details and may later well work for a competitor. Don't believe that you could safely avoid this with corresponding legal measures.
But won't he later reuse the gained expertise for our competitor?
Very honestly: we all get better on the job and can do it more efficiently the next time. This is perfectly legitimate, as long as no specific details of a project are involved. But if they ever are, it is definitely part of the standards of RP Photonics to recognize a conflict of interest and properly handle it – if necessary, by not accepting a certain job.
Note also that RP Photonics is serving clients in a rather wide range of technical areas and also with a wide range of different services. Therefore, situations with a possible conflict of interest occur only very rarely.
These thoughts also show you that RP Photonics is very aware of its clients' needs and is working hard to fulfill them to the highest possible degree.