Supplier Communication: Look For and Give Relevant Detail

  • Sometimes an offshore project seems like stumbling around in the dark because you and the supplier are talking past each other. Strive for relevant detail.

By focusing on relevant detail  in your supplier communication you avoid time waste, misunderstanding and even incorrect mass production. In offshore manufacturing, nothing is to be taken for granted. Nothing? Nothing. For each phase, consider “what relevant detail needs to be put forward.”

Relevant detail is like building blocks

In it’s basic form, relevant details in your communication are the building blocks that show how you are going to get from point A to point B.

It’s the spotlight that shines on your progress. As the relevant detail increases in each phase of your sourcing and ordering, you’ll have more clarity on the project. As relevant detail decreases or is missing altogether, then you’ll be scrambling in the dark.

Profound, huh? But true…

Relevant detail leads to confirmations

This post was inspired this week because a supplier asked a question and in analyzing the question, I realized there’s not enough information provided for me to to be able to make a decision one way or the other.

Be on the lookout for for this!

Frequently, your supplier, over email or WeChat will communicate to you as if you’re sitting inside the office chair of their brain, seeing everything from their point of view.

The supplier asks what seems to be on the surface a simple “yes or no” question, but there’s more to it than that.

If you say “yes” then what are the ramifications of that?

If you say “no” what will happen then?

Supplier communication weakness

Your supplier doesn’t give you the background to make the decision because they

  • Take the info for granted. Like I said, they assume you see what they see and know what they know.
  • The supplier knows the information but doesn’t know how to communicate the relevant detail. I say this with all due respect, but they try to cut corners in their communication. They don’t want to spend the extra 10 minutes crafting the email or report. But seem not to mind spending an extra 30 minutes answering questions or worse, reproducing an order because of bad communication.
  • The supplier themselves hasn’t drawn logical conclusions to next steps. They haven’t thought forward enough in the basic scenarios of “if this than this” and therefore aren’t able to tell you what’s next. To-Do List thought versus comprehensive thought. This is why whenever your supplier sends an email it actually brings up more questions than clarity.
  • The supplier knows the detail but doesn’t want to communicate the detail. This is not good. They don’t want you to further delve into the situation and find something out. Somethings being swept under the rug and they’re trying to ship the order out as soon as possible.
  • Watch our for questions the supplier gives you

    Before you’re quick to answer something, ask yourself if you have everything you need.

    If you decide this way, what will happen?

    If you confirm the proposed step, will it lead to the goal you hope to reach?

    If the client acts like they’re dealing with “coin operated” the supplier will do the same.

    Think to yourself, before you answer, what else do I need?

    Insist the supplier provide you the information.

    If it’s a supplier you want to work with long-term (and should there be any other type of supplier?), then in a sense, you’ll be training your supplier contact to provide you what you need each time. What’s the old saying? Repetition is the mother of getting your offshore manufacturing right…

    Formulate your own questions in the same manner

    Don’t take your own questions casually but know that each aspect of the communication is going to lead to a finished physical mass product.

    Clients become exasperated because the supplier gave them, what they perceive to be, faulty information.

    But what too often happens is, the client asks a muddled question, with no background or clarity (relevant detail!) and then the supplier gives an ambiguous answer with no real thought behind it.

    The client wanted to grunt and the supplier pick it up and weave an answer of precision and clarity.

    A confirmation takes place and the supplier proceeds. The problem is, since relevant detail wasn’t provided, the client signed-off, the supplier didn’t know what they were confirming and errors happen. Both sides were talking past each other.

    If the client acts like they’re dealing with “coin operated” the supplier will do the same. What you put in, is what you’ll get out.

    If you want the supplier to provide you precise responses, in turn you’ll give them relevant detail to draw adequate conclusions.

    It can mean the difference between a good order and a nightmare of a mess.

    Share on LinkedIn5Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Share on Facebook0Pin on Pinterest1Share on Reddit0