Offshoring continues to be a potential cost-savings answer for many businesses. But if you decide to send some of your business overseas, you will need to weigh the options for getting started.
One possibility is to launch a pilot project planned and coordinated from American shores, while another is to take matters into your own hands and pay a visit to the offshore company to determine firsthand the feasibility of such a project.
If, for example, you are simply trying to lower costs for commodity components, or you are looking for physically compatible components, you can usually set up a pilot program from home, provided you have good quality standards in place that can handle inspections of incoming parts.
However, if you have machine or molded parts or items where there is a significant amount of process and design, or the part being manufactured is really specific to your business, you may want to travel abroad. You’ll want to make sure their process capabilities are consistent with your quality expectations. If you are getting into contract manufacturing, where you’re having a significant portion, or the entire product, assembled by an overseas supplier and shipped to you, you’ll definitely want to treat it as a strategic business relationship, where meeting face-to-face will be beneficial.
Of course, clear communication is key to any offshoring project, and this needs to be established and maintained from the onset and throughout the life of the relationship, regardless of which method is chosen. Offshoring solutions companies are trying to make ongoing communication easier. Southern Offshore Solutions, for example, uses a continuous process that allows a flow of data, processed via double passkey verification, to guarantee data integrity and accuracy demands.
In addition, you will want to factor cost into the offshoring equation. This includes volume and travel, which may set you back several thousand dollars. If you’re going to incur a significant amount of overhead to establish a relationship and work with a supplier on an ongoing basis, you’ll want to get to a point where the per-part cost is going to be substantially lower, and that can only be done with volume.
Ultimately, you need to determine whether you are confident that the offshore company can produce the exact widget your company would put its name on and its reputation behind.
Remember, your goal is a smooth transition from your own manufacturing facility to another site in another part of the world, while honoring your commitment to your customers and providing them with products in a timely and cost-effective fashion. Can an offshore company handle such a seamless transition? If your research tells you empathically yes, a pilot program with regular progress reports is the next step. But if you have significant doubts, and your business cannot afford to take such a financial gamble or a public relations hit, you may decide it’s best to pack your bags, head for the airport, and see for yourself. Trust, comfort, and your instincts will usually be the operative factors.