December 8, 2020 at 7:30 am
If you’re looking for a company that provides CAD services or a freelancer that does CAD design, honestly there are a lot of options to choose from, and that can be very overwhelming. How do you know who is good or bad? How do you know who to trust with your hard earned money? And in the worst case scenario, how do you make sure they’re not going to steal your idea and sell it to someone else?
In this article we’re going to discuss some of those concerns, and try to take the overwhelm out of choosing the right company or freelancer to work with.
Should I look for a company closer to home, or use a freelancer overseas?
With the proliferation of online freelancing platforms, one of the first questions you might be asking is whether you need to work with someone close to home, or whether working with an international company might be better.
This question has a couple of different aspects. CAD design is a digital service and can be delivered remotely, so in our view as long as you can communicate with someone easily in a similar time zone to yourself it doesn’t matter too much where they are.
There are other things to consider here though. For example, working with a company who have all their staff in North America is going to be much more expensive, because cost of living and wages are higher here.
You could instead pay a freelancer in a developing country to do your CAD design, which will be much cheaper (while still paying them an excellent wage comparatively), but then you have to deal with project management headaches due to language differences and misunderstandings, and possibly problems with work ethic which will see you micromanaging everything.
It can be hard without hiring experience to tell if a freelancer is going to be good or bad to work with, so you may find you end up hiring a dud the first time around. This means having to hire multiple people to do your project, costing you more time and probably the same amount of money it would have cost to hire a company more locally in the first place.
It’s also important to avoid CAD design mills, as they just won’t care about you or your project. These types of companies operate in a churn and burn fashion where they will push your work out as quickly as they can before moving onto the next project, without much attention to detail in the quality of their output.
We feel the best approach is to hire a company like J – CAD Inc. where our company owners and project managers are based in North America, but we also have a distributed team of over 40 people built up over many years. This has allowed us to source the best talent from around the world, while also passing on cost savings from cost of living arbitrage to you in our project prices.
How to find the best company or freelancer that provides CAD services?
This is a bit of a tricky question, as the “best” company or freelancer is the one most suited to your project. If you talk to someone and they tell you that they can do any and all projects, that’s a bad sign as it means they’re generalists, not specialists, and are likely to have lower quality skills, or be in desperate need of the work. Good companies should actively turn away projects they’re not a good fit for.
Something else to keep an eye out for is the “are they just in it for the money” test. A great sign of a good company to work with is if they will be up front and tell you that your idea will either:
a.) Not work the way you expect
b.) Will not compete in the market, as someone else is already doing it better, cheaper, on a larger scale etc.
This can save you a lot of time, money and heartache, so it’s in your best interests to listen if a company says something like this to you!
Other things to consider are:
- What is your budget? Some companies will only work with high value clients. CAD design with a good company can be surprisingly inexpensive, but if you have a very low budget (less than $200 – $300) you will probably need to find a freelancer to work with.
- When do you need the project completed by? If you need the project completed quickly, working with a freelancer is not always ideal, as a freelancer is responsible for delivering all work they take on and can bottleneck projects quickly if they’re overstretched. If you need a quick turnaround time, look for someone who responds to initial emails quickly, and has a large team so they have capacity to take on your work.
- How complex is the project? Complex projects typically require someone with lots of experience, or experience in multiple different areas. If your CAD design is part of a larger project involving manufacturing or prototyping with 3D printing, it’s useful for a company to be able to provide all those skills under the same roof. Make sure whoever you hire has the skills and experience to take on the project you’re hiring for.
- Is the project niche specific / does it require special skills? There are different types of CAD services, eg. electrical / mechanical / product / architectural and more. A generalist freelancer may not have the skills to accurately do your CAD drawing if they don’t have experience in a relevant sector. In this instance it’s useful to find a company that has a broad range of experience working across different types of projects like we do.
Should you choose a company that uses CAD design compared to manual drafting techniques?
Why you might prefer to work with a company that does CAD design rather than a freelancer
We may be a little biased here, but we think in general (unless you’re the kind of person who likes to micromanage everything), you will have a better experience and get better results with a company rather than a freelancer.
Companies with a big team typically have more streamlined and refined processes than freelancers do and better business practices, allowing projects to run much more smoothly and efficiently. If they didn’t their whole business would fall apart!
There are some other unique issues when working with freelancers rather than companies as well however, including:
- Working with a freelancer can be slower. For example, if the freelancer gets sick it can hold up or even cause your project to fail as they are directly responsible for it. Conversely, a company has multiple staff, team leads and project managers. If someone is sick or on leave, there are other people who can pick up the slack, and you probably won’t even notice the difference.
- Less project backlog. Freelancers can only take on so much work. If they overstretch themselves they can be trying to fit too much work into too little time. This can mean poorer quality, rushed output, or more frequently project deadlines that just extend and extend almost forever.
- Less worry of having your project idea stolen. Companies should have protections in place to ensure you are comfortable working with them. For us that means signing non-disclosure agreements before starting any new project for your peace of mind and ours. Freelancers on the other hand can be unreliable. A friend for example who is a server administrator hired someone to work in their (large) company’s servers. Later they found out that someone else entirely had been logging into their system with admin access!
- More combined experience = more successful projects. A freelancer only has the knowledge of one person. A company has a team that can combine hundreds of thousands of hours of experience across a very broad range of projects. This means they’re more likely to know the best approach to take on your project and any pitfalls to watch out for.
What questions you should ask before starting a project?
There are a number of questions you should ask a company or freelancer before starting a project with them. Maybe surprisingly, “how much?” is not the first question you should be asking. If it is, you may have your priorities wrong for the project. For example, sometimes paying a bit more will actually save you a lot of time and stress, or get you a much higher product. So try to avoid the race to the bottom on prices if you can, as this is a sign of an inexperienced or desperate freelancer or company who don’t value themselves or their product. On the flipside of this, watch out for companies or freelancers who overprice their services. Sometimes pricing exorbitantly is a strategy used to try and make their service look more valuable, in a “if it’s expensive it must be really good” kind of scenario. In reality finding a company priced towards the upper middle is a better approach.
Some other questions you might like to ask include:
- Can you show me examples of similar projects? This way you’ll know they can handle your project. If they are under a non-disclosure agreement they may only be able to explain similar projects to you.
- How do they keep your idea protected? Look for things like non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).
- Do they offer more than just CAD design services? This can be important if your project involves manufacturing or prototyping where it’s much easier and less stressful to keep the entire project under one roof, rather than trying to bring different freelancers or companies into the mix.
- Do you own the CAD files? We don’t think you should even have to ask this question (you should always own files you pay to have designed!) but sadly some companies will actually retain ownership of your files. If you find out that’s the case, go somewhere else instead.
- Will they be available down the track if changes are needed? How will those changes be priced? Some companies will charge you a small amount of money to get you in the door, only to charge you a lot more down the track. It’s good to confirm this up front if you are expecting changes to your project.
- When can we start the project? Ideally a good company should have capacity to start straight away, or within the next week or two at the most. If they can’t start for a long time, or take ages to get back to you, that’s a warning sign that they may be stretched to or beyond capacity and won’t be able to give your project the attention it deserves.
If you’re looking for a great company that does CAD design as is easy to work with, try us!
We hope after all the above we have convinced you to hire a company rather than a freelancer for your next CAD design project.
If you’d like to hire a company with a large team, lots of experiences and great prices, we’d love to hear more about your project.
Fill out our quote form or give us a call on 1.888.202.2052 and we’ll get back to you asap!
Jason Vander Griendt
Jason Vander Griendt is a Mechanical Engineering Technician with years of experience working at major companies such as SNC Lavalin Inc, Hatch Ltd. Siemens and Gerdau Ameristeel. He is the CEO of JCAD – Inc., a company he started in 2006 after seeing a gap in the market for businesses who could assist clients through the entire product design and manufacturing process.
Jason has been featured in Forbes, has had his businesses analyzed and discussed in multiple start-up books, was a previous winner of the Notable8 Digital Innovator of the year award, and is a regular guest on business panels and podcasts. Email Jason at email@example.com or follow him on LinkedIn.