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The best vendors are always there for you and are willing to work 365/24/7. It has been said, “The world waits for no one.” I would change that to “The market waits for no company.”
The law of the new product introduction (NPI) jungle is that you have to be there first. Anyone who is serious about time to market in this day and age has to go at a no-holds-barred, pedal-to-the-metal speed to get their products there on time.
This means that their vendors need to have that same attitude. The best vendors when it comes to time to market and NPI are the ones who can do everything from concept to reality, not only with their current capabilities but with new streamlined capabilities as well. The best vendor partners are the ones who are always thinking and innovating new ways to do things better, and especially, faster.
When you are looking for a great partner to get your valuable new products out as quickly and efficiently as possible, make sure that you find one who does the thinking for you. Your company’s job is product development. Decide what your market needs, develop the products that fill that need, and then turn your product into the hands of a company that will build your product so timely that you’ll be the first one to hit that market.
Think for a minute about the trust you need in that vendor. Your company’s most valuable assets are its products, especially new ones that hopefully will put you on top of your market—and a dent in the universe too. You are entrusting your product to another company. You are putting your precious baby into the arms of a company you don’t own or have any true control over. That is one scary proposition.
That is why you must ensure that your supplier is the best in its class. Here are the eight most critical questions you have to ask about your supplier:
- Can they do all that you need? Are they a total concept supplier that will take your product from concept to reality as quickly and efficiently as possible?
- No matter how quickly they can bring your product to life, will it be production quality?
- Will they help you with your design, especially if they find issues with it? Do you have enough trust and confidence in their abilities that you believe them when they suggest changes to ensure that your product will be the best it can be?
- Do you have enough of a past record with them to know that when they commit to a completion date, they make that date 100% of the time?
- Are they generous and fair enough to ensure that the manufacturing guidelines are open enough so you can take it to any vendor once you get to production? This is opposed to some NPI companies that will help you develop production processes that will only fit their particular manufacturing process, thus cutting down your future options and unfairly assuring them the business at their prices for the life of the product.
- Do they make an effort to completely walk in your shoes and take the time to understand the challenges of your market so that they can help you succeed in that market?
- Do they take the time to understand your customers and their needs so they can help you design and build products that will not only meet but exceed their needs?
- Are they constantly looking for ways to do things better for your sake? Do they offer suggestions that will make your product better, even if, in some cases, it could hurt their own position? For example, they are a specialist in a special kind of RF microwave technology. Would they be brave and generous enough to tell you about a technology that would be better suited and less expensive for this particular process, even though they are not capable of it and will have to send you to another supplier? In short, are they willing to play the long game with you?
These are all qualities that your vendor partners need to have. Once again, you are putting your most important asset into the hands of these partners. You’d better be sure that they are there for you in your ongoing challenge of bringing your product to market first.
Imran Valiani is an account manager at Rush PCB. He can be reached at email@example.com.