The best way to pass on QC requirements to your vendor

Companies that source in China have a tendency to lord over their China vendors and to demand perfection when perfection is just not realistic. Years and years of seeing China as a Third World country with cheap labor have informed this misplaced attitude. The attitude is not only anachronistic ( China now has the 2nd largest economy in the world) but it in effect sabotages a lot of buyer-vendor relationships in China. The buyer demands a “perfect” product. The vendor has limitations over which they have no control and they cannot deliver. The buyer does not understand and comes to see the vendor as irresponsible and insubordinate. Throw in a little anti-Chinese sentiment on the part of the buyer, and anti- foreign sentiment on the part of the vendor and before you know it the buyer is looking for another vendor.

I have been caught in the middle of relationships like this many times and I think it is more often the fault of the buyer than the vendor. Buyers treat every QC point as a major issue the end-result being that the vendor becomes very frustrated and just wants to finish the order ASAP. And then things just start spiraling out of control. For this reason, I always try to work with my customers to get them to not only to clearly delineate what the QC points are but to go one step further and establish in their own mind which of those QC points are “Critical,” which are” Major,” and which are “Minor.” I always ask them, “Is this really critical and is there not any way you can live with this?” The whole point of this exercise is that I want vendors to spend their time and energy addressing critical and major defects, and not minor flaws that are not likely to impact sales. I do not want vendors to get burned out on the “little stuff.”

Critical points I feel should be limited to a few things and should be discussed in the most serious terms with the vendor. Major defects should also be discussed but the tone should be firm but flexible i.e. “please do your best to avoid these, if we see this problem too much we will have to reject it because we may lose sales” Minor defects, I feel, should be mentioned to the vendor only once, and sometimes maybe just in passing. Minor after all is minor.

Just put yourself in your vendor’s shoes for a moment. Is it going to be easier to work with someone who comes to you with ten problems and in a panic tells you they are all critical and need to be addressed immediately, or to work with someone who comes to you with ten problems and very calmly tells you three are critical and need immediate attention, three are serious and should be discussed at length, and four are not really serious and should be just mentioned in passing? Who would you rather work for ?

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2 thoughts on “The best way to pass on QC requirements to your vendor

  1. Thank you. Very useful article. Perhaps, the best choice is not wanting perfection. We need to understand and hold by the Chinese culture; and strike a balance….

    • Glad you found it useful. Believe me, I see it all the time, high, often unreasonable expectations of overseas buyers and the vendor’s inability to meet these expecatations. So I think being successful in China is all about looking hard at your goals and trying to be as realisitc as possible when you get started there. .

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