Partnering with an outsourcing company can be a smart move or it can be a disaster. The very nature of the word “partner” means the outsourcing company should be treated as part of the team not an “outsider” with limited knowledge. An outsourcing company will have a chance to fully understand what you want only if you tell them exactly what you want.
The best way to achieve the success you expect when working with an outsourcing company is to communicate fully and effectively. This may sound easy, but it is neither easy nor simplistic. Effective communication is the bedrock of maintaining a successful relationship with an outsourcing company.
It’s well documented that outsourcing allows organizations to expand their product line, cost-effectively add (or retain) product features, reduce total cost of goods, and, ideally, create more time to concentrate on managing their core business. However, in a recent survey, almost half of respondents indicated that they’ve had trouble communicating with an outsourcing company.
In this blog we will discuss 4 ways to ensure success when working with an outsourcing company:
1. Share Information – All of It
An outsourcing company can only provide what you want if you tell them exactly what you want. “Exactly what you want” cannot be stressed enough. More detail is always better than less. If you have 3D drawings, send them; and if you have material specifications, send them. If you have inspection reports from a previous shipment detailing difficulties you have experienced in the past, send that detail to them as well. Any detail you hold back can set you, and the outsourcing company, up for failure.
2. Communicate Regularly
Regular communication is important to keep “top of mind” with your outsourcing company. If knowing the status of your order is important to you and you want regular updates but you aren’t getting them, let the outsourcing company know. The frequency of clear, professional communication can vary greatly from one company to another. If you need / want more frequent communications, tell them. Call them and ask for the updates you need / want to know. There are only two acceptable responses to any question you ask: 1.) An immediate answer to your question. Or 2.) They don’t know the answer but will get back with you within a reasonable time frame…and they do it.
3. Be Proactive
If the outsourcing company is not communicating with you like you think they should, you must take the reins and be proactive. If something doesn’t sound right, ask more detailed questions until you feel comfortable. Never settle for a vague answer. It’s your product, and knowing what is happening with production is ultimately your responsibility. If you aren’t getting the answers you want from the person you are speaking with, ask to speak with a manager. There is no excuse for your outsourcing company not knowing the exact status of production.
4. Take Nothing for Granted
Until the outsourcing company has earned your trust it is dangerous to take anything for granted. All details from the simplest artwork change, to the originally quoted or requested ship or sailing date, must be verified and reconfirmed. If the outsource manufacturer isn’t keeping you up to date regarding important details, you cannot take for granted that “no news is good news”. It’s actually just the opposite: “No news is typically bad news.” If a routine progress report is not forthcoming or is delayed the reason may not be a happy one. You should proactively call and ask about it.
We have discussed 4 ways to ensure success when working with an outsourcing company. These 4 steps work in the opposite direction as well. An experienced and effective outsourcing company will 1.) Share information; 2.) Communicate regularly; 3.) Be proactive- not just in their communication, but in everything they do during the process; and 4.) Take nothing for granted.
ITI Manufacturing has been representing USA companies in Asia since 1974. As a professional, full-service contract manufacturer and outsourcing company, we know how and when to communicate to ensure you are kept fully aware of what is happening with your order. One of the reasons customers have been successful in working through us when manufacturing in Asia, is because of our ability and willingness to clearly and effectively share all relevant information, communicate regularly, be proactive, and take nothing for granted.
If you are experiencing anything less call us today.