Production mistakes cut a project to the quick. Not only is the actual product now “not right” but there’s other aspects to sort out. Handling it all cross-culturally and from abroad makes it all the more touchy.
Finding out how production errors happen
“I don’t care how it happened, just fix it!”
This is a common exclamation that an exasperated buyer may send to their vendor.
It’s true that in the heat of the battle, you may think you don’t have time to hear how this happened or how it happened isn’t important. In a rapid-fire mindset, perhaps you think only the solution is important. If timing is a super important factor, this may have a hint of truth.
Before you start making solution-oriented changes, find out HOW this problem happened.
How about the “why” it happened. In my opinion, this is something you can focus on after the heat of battle. It’s similar to the admission of error; not that important. You want to learn how the process failed and I chose my word carefully above.
The how is more process-oriented.
Knowing process-oriented reasons lead to process-oriented solutions.
Process-oriented solutions cover the gambit of communication, to inquiry, to sampling, to in-order control to production processes.
Finding out how an error happened inside of these realms (communication, RFQ, sample, mass production), gives clarity on how to avoid errors…still inside of these realms.
A buyer doesn’t fix who their supplier is, but has the ability to guide their supplier in what they do.
Buyers can guide themselves in what they do. Remember, production errors aren’t always the supplier’s fault.
Confession in Production Mistakes
Assuming the production mistakes were the vendor’s fault, Western buyers tend to overly focus on the “admission of responsibility” side of things whenever production errors creep into the picture. What I mean is simply the China vendor admitting their mistake.
Here’s what you won’t hear: “We dropped the ball and we’re going to do what it takes to get it right”.
Focus more on correction, not confession. I realize it irritates the buyer to no ends whenever someone won’t fess up. But think about it. That’s not what’s important here. What’s important to your production is getting it right.
Side note: In the Western world it’s sort of a bridge builder to admit whenever you make a mistake. But when dealing with Chinese vendors, their admission of an error or lack thereof, in my seasoned opinion, isn’t an indicator of a good supplier or not.
I’ve seen suppliers not admit error and fix the problem.
I’ve seen suppliers admit production mistakes freely and do nothing to fix the issue!
The goal in fixing production mistakes isn’t a contrite attitude but a willingness from the vendor to correct.
This take shape in various forms.