By Jacob Yount
Casual from the beginning.
Loose from the get-go.
Processes regarded as incidentals.
Requirements treated as annoyances or afterthoughts.
In these modern times, everything is lighting fast.
You can always “google it later”, right?
Or even better, you can always assume that someone will “google it later”.
All of the above is a recipe for disaster in your China sourcing and manufacturing projects.
I’ve seen it from small buyers to large brands.
Of course the smallest factory to the most established vendor is subject to this as well.
Downplaying the importance of a requirement comes back to bite you.
You realize nobody in the project or supply chain has a blinking clue on how to execute requirements.
They don’t understand what’s been said.
Proper Steps Backed Up by Evidence
Take time to research or make sure someone does.
If you delegated the research don’t allow your team to move forward to the next steps until you’ve seen evidence of the research.
Don’t treat any aspect as an incidental or afterthought. Packing and logistics immediately come to mind.
I’ve actually seen Western buyers send a stack of certification requirements to their Chinese vendor.
The buyer didn’t know what the hell the documents requested.
The files were written in corporate speak and legalese and they didn’t know what was being asked.
Nevertheless, somehow, someway, they felt it a good idea to send that to a factory in China and say just as casually…”here’s what we need”.
The factory doesn’t understand.
They won’t say they don’t understand.
They won’t have the first clue what you’re asking for.
If you don’t understand the requirement how would others understand?
If you’re not able to demonstrate and share, why would the other party grasp the importance that they are required to put all of that into motion?
Don’t be afraid yourself to say “I don’t understand.”
Ego gets in the way of saying, “let’s further talk about these steps to make sure all sides are on the same page.”
Ask followup questions.
Discussion helps you find holes in the thought process of both sides.
You’ll discover gaps of understanding that need filling.
Treating processes and steps with seriousness strengthens your memory and response.
A strong memory and response in your work methods, increase confidence.
You get confident in your steps by being serious, not treating everything as a casual walk in the park.
The idea of “someone else should handle this” doesn’t enter your mind.
Instead it’s, “let’s confirm who or what department is handling this, and how do we know?”
Jacob Yount lived in China from 2001 to 2012, during which time he started JLmade. He is now based out of North Carolina in the US and his home office is still in Suzhou, China; manufacturing and exporting branded merchandise, promotional products and retail gifts for distributors worldwide. Contact Jacob at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find him on his blog.