The importance of honesty in engineering
Honesty might seem a strange word to apply to engineering.
You’d normally expect engineers to be talking about precision, quality, capacity, machining, prototyping or delivery. Terms such as honesty and transparency rarely come into the equation; yet both are vital for every engineering business and every customer relationship.
Consider for a moment the situation where a supplier has suffered a delay in production and knows that they will be unable to meet their customer’s delivery schedule. An honest supplier will quickly tell the customer the truth – however unpalatable this may be – explaining the real reasons for the delay, the likely impact and the measures that they are taking to resolve the problem. Although the customer may be unhappy at least they are in possession of the true facts and can adjust their plans or production schedules accordingly.
Contrast this with the situation where the supplier tries to minimise or hide the bad news that they have to give to their customer, by telling them only part of the story or making promises about ‘slight delays’ that they know they will be unable to keep. Worse still is the supplier who fails to communicate until after the original delivery date or who simply disappears off the radar despite increasingly frantic calls from their customer asking when the goods will be received.
We’ve all been in similar situations and know the frustration, disruption and extra work this causes.
This is just a simple example of what we meant by honesty and transparency. Failure as a supplier to communicate effectively and truthfully with each customer inevitably undermines trust; and, in many instances, can put the customer in a difficult and potentially costly position if it results in unplanned disruption in production or project schedules.
Trust is vital for successful engineering outcomes
Ultimately, the success of almost every engineering project depends on trust between the engineering contractor and their customer. This is especially true in the space and scientific sectors where a clear understanding of the technical challenges, commercial requirements and pressures to perform are critical.
Clearly, trust takes time to build up and depends on both parties being open and honest from the outset. Once established, however, mutual trust enables issues to be discussed frankly and, as importantly, enables each engineering project to be developed and delivered as effectively as possible, with both parties working collaboratively to deliver the best possible outcome.
To quote one of our longstanding customers in the space sector, “Frazer-Nash are not afraid to tell us the truth; like all suppliers they sometimes have issues that could impact on us but they handle these in an open and honest way – nothing is covered up. They are also prepared to take on new engineering challenges yet are frank about their capabilities and experience, so we know from the outset if there are likely to be technical roadblocks along the way.”