How Are Engineers Spending Their Time?

Competing in today’s global environment is not easy. With so much competition, developing products that stand out is very difficult. To understand what companies are doing to differentiate their products, Tech-Clarity researchers surveyed nearly 250 manufacturers. Figure 1 shows the top ways companies are differentiating their products.

Figure 1: Top 5 Most Important Competitive Differentiators

To create needed differentiation, companies are looking to bring products to market with better quality, higher performance, and greater innovation at a lower cost in less time. It is the product development team that will achieve these goals. This means that companies who have the best shot at bringing more competitive products to market are those that have enabled their engineering resources to focus on these things. Despite this, shockingly, engineering teams report that a third of their time is spent on non-value added work (Figure 2).

Figure 2: How Engineering Time Is Spent

Clearly, there is a lot of room for improvement.

Investigating this a little further, Figure 3 shows how that non-value added time is spent.

Figure 3: Breakdown of Non-Value Added Time

Figure 3 shows that the majority of that non-value added time is wasted on manual data management tasks. Imagine how much more value engineering teams could bring to products if they could get a third of their time back?

When asked how they would use that time if they could eliminate those manual data management tasks, survey respondents said they would use it to help make products more competitive (Figure 4). 

Figure 4: Business Value of Eliminating Manual Data Management Tasks

This survey data shows that what could be viewed as small problems, like the time required to find information, add up. The impact is that a significant portion of investments in engineering products is wasted. The good news is that by investing in ways to eliminate these manual data management tasks, companies can enjoy considerable business value with differentiated products that will win over more customers. The end result is greater profitability.

More information on the survey and additional results can be found in the complete report, Reducing Non-Value Added Work in Engineering.