A lot of times with newer products, the companies may not even have manufacturing available to them. And their decision is whether to manufacture or to outsource right off the bat. In other words, as soon as they begin the process of releasing their product, what do they do. Do they put the overhead in place to manufacture, or do they outsource. It’s better to outsource unless you have a product that is extremely technical.
Both product design and manufacturing must be married early in the relationship. Failure to do so, along with unplanned “time saving” shortcuts, will add short-term disruption and potentially long-term cost disadvantages over the product life cycle.
Certainly, you should find an organization that has compatible values, cultures and business processes. When you start a project, make sure you have well-defined objectives and ways to measure those objectives. And, ongoing communication has to be frequent and two-way.
The idea of having written and published plans that everyone has agreed upon is also important, along with the willingness to share strategies, concepts, and confidential information. You have to look at the contract manufacturer as an extension of your own organization.
You just can’t assume that you are going to outsource a product development project; hand it off to somebody; and expect it to get done. It is critical for the success of the project that there are resources on the client side to interface with on an ongoing basis. We find that most successful projects are those where customers are closely involved with teams on an ongoing, if not daily, basis.
Finally, when you are assessing a contract manufacturer, you need to make sure that they have the capabilities needed to meet the project requirements in terms of the quality systems, as well as the program and project management skill sets and engineering expertise.