Subcontracting the Wrong Detailer Can Be an Expensive Lesson

January 16, 2019

Imagine that your steel fabrication company needs to subcontract detailers for a project. While perusing online job boards and websites that advertise freelancers and foreign companies, you find a reasonably priced detailer, perhaps from overseas. It looks like a great deal, so you bring them on to the project. After they finish the work, you make a dreaded discovery: they’ve done the work incorrectly, and it doesn’t even meet your country’s standards. 

It turns out that the detailers you hired weren’t a legitimate company and they were using unlicensed copies of Tekla Structures. While they might have had some legal licenses for appearances, the rest were pirated. Their detailers were not properly trained, or familiar with your country’s standards even if they claimed they were.  As a result, you have to hire a second company to redo the detailing work, and not just refabricate all the previously fabricated pieces, but hire additional fabrication resources to make up for lost time. Your project is now behind schedule and bleeding more and more money every day.

An expensive lesson

For many companies – even the law-abiding, license-holding ones like yours – this nightmare can easily become reality. One unlucky customer recently experienced this exact scenario when hiring extra hands for a tight-schedule job, and suffered its devastating results firsthand. The work they received from the subcontracted steel detailer was done incorrectly and didn’t meet the country’s standards, meaning they had to hire new detailers, have all of the previously fabricated pieces refabricated, and pay for extra fabrication resources to ensure all pieces were finished on time. Because they were behind schedule, they also had to deal with the snowballing daily costs. On top of all that, the detailer cost our customer more than 11.000 euros in on-site rework alone,– and because the detailers didn’t actually have insurance, our customer was unable to recover any of the costs. Trying to save money by using a suspiciously inexpensive detailing company ended up costing them a huge chunk of cash, as well as lost time, lost materials and a damaged reputation. It was undoubtedly an expensive lesson.

Piracy hurts well-meaning companies

Companies big and small, national and international, are tempted to hire subcontractors found on freelancing websites or job boards simply because they seem to cost less up front. What they don’t know is that several of these subcontractors might be using illegal software, or operating under the guise of a few legal licenses along with a number of illegal licenses. This kind of trickery puts both your project and your company at risk, leaving you with little recourse but to bite the bullet and have the work redone.

These detailing companies often cost less because they haven’t properly invested in their business. They haven’t purchased legal software licenses, which means their illegally downloaded software may contain malware, ransomware, or simply be damaged. Plus, working with companies that use illegal software can cause major problems for your project, your computers, your firm, and your reputation. 

To make things even worse, these companies often don’t have well-trained users or aren’t familiar with your country's standards. Meanwhile, the job boards and websites that advertise the companies don’t verify software licenses (and some even earn a finder’s fee when a company gets paid), which means they don’t care when problems pop up later on and aren’t willing to help sort things out.

Before you subcontract a detailer, a few quick checks can help protect your company from going through the nightmare described above. And remember, if it looks too good to be true – well, it probably is. 

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