If you are having a trade good supplier developing and producing your new product, you probably already have experienced that this is not always going smooth.10 Tips on how to keep track on the progress of trade good suppliers working on your new product.
Tip 1: Specify the product requirements in detail
Before asking your supplier to start working on the development of your new product, you need to be able to exactly specify what the requirements of your new product are. Verify with your supplier if he is able to fulfill all these requirements.
Strict boundaries and margins in which your supplier may operate need to be perfectly clear to him in order to get the product according to your customer’s needs and satisfaction.
Tip 2: Put the requirements in writing and discuss these in person with your supplier.
It is advisable to put the product requirements in writing and to discuss them in detail with your supplier. You want to make sure he understands every aspect of your new product. Do not communicate specifications spread over various emails but keep everything in one document that you can update if needed.
If there is a possibility to do this briefing face-to-face, I definitely recommend doing so. Not only do you build on the relationship with your supplier, you are also better able to go into much more detail than via Skype or email.
Tip 3: Have contact with your supplier on a regular basis
Ask your supplier to appoint a project manager who functions as your counterpart. Make arrangements to get a daily or weekly debrief on the status of the development and to raise any issues from both sides if needed. Go through the planning in detail and discuss the technical progress. Involve other expert team members in these meetings when required. In this way you have the opportunity to adjust and be proactive early in the process instead of reactive when it is too late.
Tip 4: Execute the product FMEA together with your supplier
If applicable to your new product, execute a FMEA together with your supplier. Even if your supplier is used to do this with his own team of experts, it provides benefits to participate in this analysis. You will most likely raise concerns your supplier has not yet thought about, because you know your customers and target market for this new product better than anyone.
Tip 5: Ask for product samples in various stages during new product development
Agree with your supplier in the beginning of the development that you require multiple product samples during the different stages of the product development. You have the opportunity to analyze the samples on technical performance, to test quality of the plastic or metal housing and the graphics, and to review the overall appearance and look & feel of the new product. It provides you with actual proof on how well the development is going and which technical or product design aspects need improvement.
Tip 6: Agree on test specifications before starting the development
Ask your supplier to define the test specifications for your new product. Or define them yourself. But discuss and agree which tests will be performed, how these tests will be carried out and what the expected test results should be. Do this before starting the new product development. This avoids difficulties in meeting the product requirements at the end of the development process.
Tip 7: Always request test reports with every product sample
You need to be sure that the samples that are provided to you are tested according the agreed test specifications. Otherwise you might approve samples, which are not according the target product specifications, which you will regret later in the process. Therefore always require a test report with development samples.
Tip 8: Agree on the product release procedure for mass production
Your supplier should take into account at the start of the product development, how you are going to release and approve the final product samples and release the ramp-up production run. This does matter to him a lot, as he needs to anticipate on the different requirements for release. For example, drop test, packaging, transportation, warehousing, humidity and heat requirements.
These requirements can be included in your product requirements briefing to your supplier. Make sure you clearly define how you are going to release the final product sample run for mass production.
Tip 9: Include all relevant aspects in a purchasing agreement
Nothing is more upsetting and time consuming than disagreement on arrangements over your new product development. To avoid these discussions, make sure to have your purchasing responsible cover the relevant aspects in a purchasing agreement, signed by your supplier.
Defining your product requirements in detail and discussing them with your supplier before new product development starts, will avoid delay and disagreement later on in the process. It will increase the chance of a successful new product introduction.
Tip 10: Perform an evaluation with your supplier
When your product is successfully launched into the market and mass production is on speed, invite your supplier to do an evaluation together on the project. See what went not so smooth and needs to be improved. This will help you in realizing your goals in future projects.
Hope you have something to go on during your next development project with a trade good supplier.
I am very curious to learn how others deal with this, please leave your tips and ideas!