Time to Market: 12 Characteristics of NPI Suppliers

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When trying to get a new product to market, time can be the most important factor when it comes to its future success or failure. And time is always passing whether you use it productively or not. When it comes to new product introduction (NPI), loss of time can mean everything. Thus, it’s critical to choose the right PCB and PCBA supplier to deliver your new product to market on time.

With that in mind, here are 12 characteristics you should look for when choosing and developing a long-term working relationship with that right NPI supplier. Quick turnaround suppliers must be:

  1. Capable: They need to have all the capabilities to handle your NPI needs.
  2. Synergistic: They need to have a complete synergistic solution from design to bare board fabrication to assembly. They need to be able to do it all so that all you have to do is write one purchase order, and then your project is handled as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
  3. Technical: Your favored supplier should have all the technology to build your product today as well as your new products in the future.
  4. Flexible: New products often have many changes and iterations, so your supplier must be ready to make them without skipping a beat.
  5. Customer-oriented: To work in the pressure cooker world of time to market, the vendor should always be willing to provide customers with superb customer service. They should let customers know what is going on every step of the way and have the patience to deal with whatever challenges may occur.
  6. Reliable: With the success of your company in their hands, you must know that your supplier is reliable and will not let you down no matter what. Once you release the order to your vendor, you must know that you will get your product to market on time.
  7. Credible: You must believe what your vendor tells you. A solid relationship with your time to market vendor must be built on the knowledge that they will always tell you the truth, no matter what.
  8. A proven performer: They must have a track record of proven success based on past performance not only with your company but with their entire client base. Consistently delivering critical time-to-market products on time, every time, is not easy. You should deal with companies with great track records based entirely on performance, not just talk.
  9. A good partner: The right vendor must care completely about your success as the customer. They are in the business of supporting customers and helping them be successful by getting their products to market on time. They should always be a good partner and put your company’s well-being ahead of their own.
  10. Fair when it comes pricing: They should be fair in all aspects of your business relationship, but especially when it comes to fair and equitable pricing. This is one to look out for because quick turn, synergistic manufacturing can get very expensive. In many cases, there is no good way to judge whether or not you are being gouged. Some companies will tend to do this, particularly when they know you are in a real bind. Again, you need a partner who you can trust who will not get greedy and take advantage of you when you are in a bind.
  11. Financially secure: Make sure that your partner’s finances are in good shape. The last thing you want to hear is that your product was delayed because your partner was on credit hold and could not get the parts they need to buy to build and assembly your products. Your partners’ financial woes will always convert to yours, too.
  12. A visionary: If you are hanging your future success on your vendor, make sure that they have a vision for their own future. What are their plans? Where do they want to be in one year or five years? Does their vision of the future align with yours? What if their plan is to sell the company in three years or, worse yet, sell the company to your competitor, leaving you out in the cold? Your mutual vision for the future should always be considered.


Most of these 12 characteristics to look for in a good vendor partner are logical and make sense. But the real key to having a long-lasting, productive vendor/partner relationship is to constantly work on it. Day by day, week by week, month by month, and year by year, always pay attention to and work on your vendor relationships. Then, you will be successful.

Imran Valiani is an account manager at Rush PCB. He can be reached at imran@rushpcb.com.


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