Ethical in consultation business
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Author: essenza
Last Post: Diquan
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Ethical in consultation business
#1
I've recently discussed with my superior regarding the ethical of submitting computer model to the owner. I raised question basically because i don't agree with that especially first it is not part of the contract (contract just stated drawings and reports). Second: this is what i don't like that the computer model will likely be given to third party (other consultant that is our business competitor) for checking or verification. What i mean about the latter, it is really unethical that we already serve the food (drawings and reports) and then give away also the recipe (the model, CAD etc). From my point of few, the owner actually don't care about the model really they just want the structure to be build asap and safe so it must be the third party who ask for the model, because they are asked only to verify of course for their benefit ask the owner for our model. Without doubt they will never develop their own model because they know it is easier to check from the existing model (as i would be if i am the 3rd party :p) with the timeframe they have. So i would like to know about your opinion related to the above mention problem. Thanks
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#2
If it is not in the contract, there is no reason for the Computer model to be submitted. In my experience I do know that clients ask for all the computer models, the input and the output files to be submitted as part of the contract.
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#3
I never sent any computer file to client!

Normally I only sent:
1- Summary of Geometry data;
2- Summary of Design criteria;
3- Loads considerations (if is different from the Country Code);
4- Loads combination;
5- Output data (results) - Can include graphics;
6- Specific design criteria (if occurs) - (Including concrete cast sequence/joints);
7- Notes about minimal time to remove form and supports, minimum Ec and Fck, etc.

In most cases the items 1- to 4- is the input data report of the program, and the item 5- is the output data.

The computer file ONLY be send if is explicit in contract, with restrictions of use/share! They must be considered your intellectual propriety!

Regards

Dell Brett

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#4
Dell has partially addressed this vexing issue.

I have worked on mega projects that also have a design review consultant hired by the owner to provide third party technical oversight.

The design calculations, usually in paper format, are expected as part of the document submission for review. There is nothing wrong in sharing. After all, the client is paying the consultant, and it should be something that the client can expect and demand.

I agree that it should be written into the contract so that when the consultant puts in the fee proposal, the cost of the submission is factored in. It is really a minor sum, but still.

I see nothing wrong with sharing of the design process details. At least in Civil Engineering, it really boils down to publicly documenting our professional work.

I really do not see any intellectual property rights here. Most of the softwares used anyhow are public domain. If you develop something very proprietary, I as the owner's reviewer have the right to demand that it meets industry standard.

I really do not see any issues, and there should be nothing to hide if you have designed as per engineering standards.
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#5
Thanks all

@ ravisbassi

Actually it is not a matter of hiding data, i just don't see any professionalism if the reviewer asking for the computer model as well. I don't see what makes computer model the important part of the review if all the input, output, design process detail etc is already explained in the report. My reason is if they are professional, why they didn't build their own computer model if they didn't trust our design. I can understand it is not a matter of intelectual property but it is a matter of ethical. U never know what they can do with our model, claiming it's them or else for their own benefit. If they argue that they didn;t believe with the result of the computer software, they can do their own simple calculation because we all know that structural analysis is more than 200 years old it is still the same since Fazlur Khan design the empire state building when there is no ETABS at all. What if we live at the time with no ETABS and they were asked to review our design? that's why i don't see any point of computer model submission is an important part of the review. They just asked for it to minimize their work cause to be honest it is perhaps easier to check from the model than to read the report or they have other agenda :).
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#6
(01-31-2011, 03:45 PM)essenza Wrote: They just asked for it to minimize their work cause to be honest it is perhaps easier to check from the model than to read the report or they have other agenda :).

essenza - you got it. The reviewer will not have the time to reinvent the wheel. Part of my experience has been as a reviewer. It is a thankless job. You have to try to understand what the designer is thinking.

So if the reviewer is asking for your model, it is a valid request. What has probably taken you six months to design, he has to review and come back with the comments in two weeks. That was the time i was allowed on the projects that I reviewed. If not then the submittal got approved by default.

That is why, this is part of our profession, and nothing wrong with it.
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#7
Dear ravisbassi, essenza and colleagues,

I must agree with both, but also like to share one of the reasons for reinforcing my point of view!
- I agree that for projects developed substantiated with commercial software, the file has no restrictions on sharing.
But if we use as an example (as I used) of an industrial project (cement silo and kiln basis), which employs a multidisciplinary team consisting of consultant for foundations, consulting of structural dynamics, and use various software, including many from developing their own, and add that we used solutions involving transfer of know-how, it´s a case where not necessary or convenient to send the program files.

I work with projects that are audited, and it is common to make an audit company meeting just to clarify criteria, considerations and methods of calculation, without applying for programs or files.

My best regards to all

Dell Brett


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#8
I do have some slight different opinion.
It is not the problem sharing the design file with 3rd party, especially when the 3rd party is the checker/reviewer.
IMO, the checker/reviewer should do independent review the structure (based on the similar design concept of designer) independently. Better still using different program to cross check.
Checking on the designer's works/design file deficit the purposes of 'independent'.
Just my 2 cents.
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#9
Dear all,

Well in that case why dont we asked CSI, Autodesk, etc... how they did to build the program and everything?, why dont we asked the architects there own knowledge on how do they manage to achieved the project?... i bet those people will never share anything of that because is something of there own knowledge and practice, experience.

We, as engineers have to solve an structure that someone else thought... and now, we have to share how we manage to structure the problem to a 3rd?, because they cannot thing of a possible solution as we, as engineers, did?... mmm... i dont thing so!, i agree with essenza and Dell Brett.

Just think about it... ask Calavera all the papers and everything of the Alamillo bridge?... you think he is going to give everything because the contractor ask for that, just like that?... only if is a matter of death or alive, he is going to contribute with the papers... if is not because of that, he is never going to give that away.

Is my point of view.
Diquan
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