Adage #4: Don’t Get on a Bus Without Knowing Where it is Going

Lost bus

Ever go to a big store looking for something specific – for example a socket set – and you can’t seem to find it?  You get approached by a sales person who says follow me.  As you leave hardware and end up in the ceramic plumbing area you wonder how did I get here?  This happens more times than not in China since everyone is a sales person and the language barrier can complicate it even further.   To avoid this, you need to know what you want first – or at least have a very good idea.

Having a well thought out plan and communicating it to your resources is critical.  Specs, sizes, materials, processes and other critical details are necessary.  You may not know the exact material or process, but you have communicated it to the factory and now you need to get their feedback.  How are they going to answer your questions, what resources are they going to use, what in-house items are you going to do and how long (timetable) will it take are just a few mandatory questions I expect.  Too many times I see clients backing their proverbial trucks to the China shop, throwing their part over the wall and saying, “here, figure it out”.  Then they wonder why the part isn’t optimal, costs a little bit too much and the leadtime is poor.  Communicate with your factory and know the details of what they are doing versus what they are buying, from whom, where and how much

Real World Example:  Had a client come to us who spent a moderate amount of money and significant time working with a resource he just sent the part and some initial drawings to.  Factory sales guy said he will take care of it.  Sure, there were some initial discussions about what he was expecting in return, but it was short and not much detail.  After a long while of bad quality, high price and long leadtime, it turns out the client started asking the questions he should have asked in the beginning.  Turns out the factory was shopping most the part out to brokers and trading companies who didn’t understand all the details.  And the in-house processes were about as crude as you can get.  Roto-molded sphere was nothing more than a worker pouring plastic into a metal ball and twirling it by hand – 1…….piece……at…….a………time!

Summary:  Know where you’re going before you get on.  Get the answers, get it in writing, understand it and agree to it.

Posted by Joel Buckley
Specialized in product development, sourcing, marketing and branding


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