In this podcast, Renaud is joined by senior Sofeast engineer Paul Adams to explain the 10 key elements of a strong QA strategy for importers in China.
The strategy can be broken down into 4 themes which each include specific elements.
Let's get started with the first:
Qualification of the new supplier
1. Background checks on the potential supplier - the assurance that you're choosing the right supplier is gained by performing activities like checking their legal documentation, purchase orders and logistics, certifications, and more.
2. Reliability audit on factories - importers can't take a new supplier's word as gospel, they won't necessarily check the quality, maybe have no process controls, ignore work instructions, etc. Therefore it's important to seriously examine how they control quality by performing factory audits.
3. Evaluating the fit of the new supplier - there's a difference between being a minor customer of a large factory that scores well on quality and a more important customer of a smaller factory that scores a lower grade in a quality audit. The former may not really care about you, provide good prices, or finish your orders on time if you only provide a small percentage of their business, whereas the smaller factory really cares about your orders and will strive to keep your business. For this reason, there's a need to check whether a factory is a good fit for you, even if they have some weaknesses in certain areas.
4. Fair payment terms - some guidance on the types of payment terms you should accept to protect yourself, especially with first-time purchases from a new supplier. We also discuss how to split up your payments (with a smaller deposit first) in order to keep some leverage over the supplier.
5. Contracts - you may work with a lawyer to create a Chinese-language manufacturing contract which protects you in China - if you have future orders where the terms are the same you can re-use this in future. Chinese suppliers take legally binding contracts (in China, not your own country) seriously. If you have no budget, consider creating a document spelling out your terms clearly to avoid misunderstandings.
6. Failsafe purchasing steps - every buyer should put together a procedure including supplier screening and certain checkpoints in order to raise red flags if something seems wrong. There will be approvals, such as: receiving a production sample and agreeing it is OK or sending an inspector to check product quality during production who confirms all is well. You should also negotiate before placing an order when to pay the supplier.
Remember, you can listen to part 2 of these 2 podcasts here.
You can look at the overall strategy in more detail in this blog post from QualityInspection.org: https://qualityinspection.org/quality-assurance-strategy-china/