Tips to Having a Successful Relationship with Your Contract Manufacturer

Tips to Having a Successful Relationship with Your Contract Manufacturer

Collaborating with the right contract manufacturer (CM) can have many benefits. The right CM provides program management, which anticipates the needs of the program and the customer, and offers services to resolve unknowns that may arise. Full-service contract manufacturers provide risk mitigation, innovation, quality, and ultimately, faster speed-to-market. An experienced CM partner can help the success of a company’s program.

Following are helpful tips to consider in planning a program with a contract manufacturing partner:

Select a CM Partner Early in the Process
Partnering with a CM can lead to increased design for manufacturing, innovation, and cost management, as well as better supply chain management, resulting in speed-to-market. Working together early on sharing target costs, receiving budget quotes, and considering logistics will favorably affect quality outcomes and create realistic timelines. A CM can also review the program and utilize lean manufacturing methods to help produce the best possible repeatable process.

Define True Scope of Work
When working with a CM, it can be beneficial to step back and review the true scope of a project. It is important to examine a variety of critical factors, such as:

What is the timeline needed?
Who will be responsible for key elements?
What expectations do all parties have?
How deeply defined is the supply chain?
What are the key milestones in the timeline?

Ultimately, both all involved need to define a document to help avoid scope creep. Addressing these factors at the initial stages of the project can benefit the overall project flow as well as overall timeline.

Prove-Out Process and Freeze Design Early
Utilizing pilot test lines to confirm form, fit, and function will help prove out the process. Freezing the design early can help avoid time lags due to continual changes later. Parallel path options should be utilized when possible to reduce downtime. Adding additional time in the up-front stages can help save time in the later stages of the project.

Assume Unknown Design Iterations
Even after due diligence in the planning stages, assume that post alpha and beta iterations are likely. Additional capital should be budgeted to address any unknown capital requirements. Including flextime in the program schedule to accommodate any unknowns that may arise can help to expedite changes without interruption to the program’s final deadline.