HOW TO CHOOSE A CONTRACT MANUFACTURER
There is no single path to choosing the right contract manufacturingcompany. There is, however, a lot of research and up front work necessary to make a quality decision work that pays for itself in the end.
And while it’s certainly no small endeavor to perform, your business’ profitability could depend upon it. Ensure you’re considering all variables and angles for potential outsourced manufacturing partners, and keep in mind that in the end, you’re picking what works best for you.
COMPLETE A FEASIBILITY STUDY
Assess the short and long-term practicality of an outsource contractor. Use the expertise of data and project managers to account for all variables, including timeline, budget, legal and human elements involved in the conversion. Weigh pros and cons, and consider all time andmoney saved and invested.
RESEARCH COMPANY REPUTATION
The FDA, Better Business Bureau and other regulatory agency ratings should be top of mind when enacting initial research on contract manufacturer vendors. There are dozens of websites and digital resources you can use to study reputation, from governmental to commercial to nonprofit websites that cater to the legal and compliance history of many manufacturers.
LOOK INTO RELEVANT PRODUCT EXPERIENCE
Just as you would search for job candidates with relevant professional experience, you want to seek a contract manufacturing company that specializes in the kinds of goods and materials you need. Likewise, you may look into choosing the right contract manufacturing company based on specialty application or technology affordances they uniquely provide.
This seems intuitive, yet specialized experience and relevant capabilities should never be undersold in the search for the best third-party contractor.
Can the companies you’re vetting scale up production themselves if you should needit? Do they have fluid and proactive resources and production management capabilities themselves, or are there signs they’re already at their limit? The last thing you need is to chain yourself with a contract manufacturer that can’t keep pace with successful and in-demand products the thing you were trying to solve in the first place.
DETERMINE OUTSOURCING EXPENSES
Both as part of your initial feasibility reports and subsequent analyses, consider the natural costs that come along with contract manufacturers. These include expenses like shipping costs, added regulations and compliance, tariffs, contract fees, packaging and more.
If at the end of the day, these costs remain lower than scaling up labor ,utilities and in-house equipment, then a contract manufacturer is the way to go
DOCUMENT AND COMMUNICATE
Communication between your chosen outsourced manufacturer and yourself is paramount. This means clear planning, instructions and initiatives completed during every step, from early screening and confidentiality agreements to finalized product shipment. What’s more, all this must be executed in formal, written documentation for all parties to reference.
The best contract manufacturing companies will set up sufficient touch points, maintain honest processes and adhere to all your written documents and manufacturing requirements. They are clear and proactive about any disruptions in the supply chain or changes you might need preparation for.
CONSIDER AMOUNT OF OVERSIGHT
How much autonomy are you comfortable lending to a thirdparty, outsourced operation? How much communication will you want with them andhow frequently can you feasibly fit it into an operational day? Who will be in charge of maintaining this vendor relationship, and who is involved in final contract decisions? Consider these questions internally, and discuss them with all contract manufacturing businesses you screen.
PUT EXPECTATIONS IN WRITING
All service expectations and requirements with contract manufacturers need to be communicated in writing. Since trust and follow through are critical to these sorts of business relationships, you need to guarantee yours are fully noted. Include objectives for the partnership, product formulation process turnaround timelines, raw materials, shipping and material transfers and party responsibilities to begin, as well as any extra service scopes or final deliverable needs.
MAKE CALLS AND SCHEDULE VISITS
Set up screening phone calls with a representative from each contract manufacturingbusiness you’re considering. Relay all your desired services, products and manufacturing expectations. Let the representative take you through the initial contract partnership process and ask you questions on their end. This is a partnership, after all. If possible, schedule a follow-up, on site visit. This is highly recommended to get the full professional scope, functionality and feel of each facility.
SCORE ALL COMPANIES IN THE RUNNING
Review and evaluate each of the steps above. Come up with a numerical rating for primary services, as well as note impressions and additional vendor details. Allow project managers and other key production stakeholders to give their scores as well for the best overall team buy-in.
SELECT THE BEST CONTRACT MANUFACTURING COMPANY FOR YOU
How to choose a contract manufacturer becomes a much easier decision and a more confident one once you’ve undergone these steps. Lean heavily on the measurable variables from above, but don’t forgo the intangibles.Elements like reputation and experience sometimes come through best in on and offpaper interactions. Remain clear and thorough with your own expectations and manufacturing needs, and translate those effectively across all screening interactions. In the end, pick a contractor that ticks all imperative boxes while going above and beyond for your brand.