Negotiating in the global marketplace

An article recently posted to Inc. discusses charts by Richard Lewis that “reveal how to negotiate with people from around the world.” As a third-party quality provider, this is a key value for us because we absolutely agree that cultural considerations are key in negotiation and general business activities and it can be a significant barrier in sourcing activities in particular. Having local knowledge and cultural expertise is a competitive edge for us, no doubt.

Lewis’ book, When Cultures Collide, further discusses the topic, and we’ll be checking it out.  The Inc. article quoted and paraphrased the following from this source:

  • Canadians, compared to Americans, tend to be more low-key and inclined to seek harmony, though they are similarly direct.
  • English tend to avoid confrontation in an understated, mannered, and humorous style that can be powerful or inefficient.
  • Germans rely on logic but “tend to amass more evidence and labor their points more than either the British or the French.”

Selecting the best quality tool to meet your objectives

We love our quality tools!  In fact, the Quality Toolbox is never too far out of reach.  But, the choices can seem overwhelming at times.  Here are some suggestions for picking the right tool based on what you want to accomplish:

If you want to keep track of your facts…

Use a check sheet or line graph.

If you want to represent data visually…

Use a histogram, line graph, or pareto diagram.

If you want to group your ideas…

Use a lotus flower diagram, fishbone diagram or affinity diagram.

If you want to figure out how ideas are connected…

Use a fishbone or relations diagram.

Language translation challenges for businesses

Business News Daily captured our attention this morning with a post discussing things you should know about language translation. As an organization that does offer translation services for documents such as product specifications, instruction manuals or CAD drawings, we also recognize the challenges from an internal perspective as well.  From internal documentation of processes and procedures to global marketing, offering services in over thirty countries means multiple languages must be available.  Their accuracy is salient.

As the article notes…

A good translation can make a huge difference in how content is received.” Ian Henderson, chief technology officer and chairman of global language service provider Rubric, noted that a low-quality translation can give a bad impression of your business.

The article also suggests a business has three options for language translation: machine translation, a professional translator or crowdsourcing. Each one has its costs and benefits, and each serves a specific purpose.

Machine translation tools, such as Google Translate,are usually free to use and give you an instant translation when you copy and paste text into it. Keep in mind that these tools only provide basic translations and are often not completely accurate.

Professional translators are native or fluent speakers who will provide a high-quality translation of your content for a fee. Unlike machine translators, a professional can take grammar rules and colloquial phrases into account to make the content flow more naturally.

Crowdsourced translation may take some time to complete because you’re dealing with volunteers who likely have little translation experience. However, crowdsourcing is less expensive than hiring a professional translator and still provides a comparable quality of translation.

When determining how to proceed with a translation project, consider the resources available, time requirements and overall importance of the project.  Also, consider the expertise of the translator when using a professional. While an individual may be well versed in a language, there is often industry-specific information that may be more challenging to localize.

Learn more about Pro QC’s translation services here.  

 

 

Pass the exam! Certification study tips…

passExamWe place significant value on industry certifications and actively look for engineers that have various quality related designations.

I recently volunteered to assist others during a local ASQ certification exam study session and noted the following tips to help ensure success:

Take the pre-test. Assess your strengths and weaknesses ASAP.

Most certification exam study guides offer example tests. Taking this as early as possible provides a realistic assessment of what you know and don’t know. It’s easy to be overconfident about how much you think you know, or get caught in the trap of focusing your studies on what you’re comfortable with.

Work out a study schedule to take you through to the exam date.  Set reminders in your calendar.

Most times, trying to “fit” studying in doesn’t work for people who already have a busy schedule.  But, setting appointments for yourself to study and organizing all of your efforts through to the exam will alleviate some of the anxiety caused by not being able to make time.  Use the exam’s body of knowledge and your pre-test results to organize your efforts.

Organize your study materials.  

Many exams allow you to use study materials during testing.  This can be a weakness to some who feel it will be an easier test.  Rather than highlighting and putting tabs on too many things, only make standout a few key areas where you know you’ll need help.  Also, remove the index.  Putting this next to you during the exam will save time and frustration from flipping back and forth.

Spend time reviewing the information with others.  Organize a study session.

Studying with others is beneficial for many reasons.  A big one is that it’s a motivator.  That alone is worth it.  But, also allowing yourself to openly discuss the body of knowledge for the exam and go over example questions requires work from more areas of your brain, which ultimately helps with understanding and retention. Organize a study group with your coworkers that may also be taking the exam, through the local association section/chapter, or even LinkedIn.

Review sample exam questions during scheduled periods of time.  

Don’t use all of your allocated study time to read the study guides.  Spend more time answering example questions so you can understand how they are asking the question and how they determine what the right answer is.  Many industry certification exams require much more than memorizing terms.  It’s the application of the concept that’s important to understand.

Take care of yourself.

It may sound obvious, but it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of things and cram the few nights before the exam or skip a meal here and there right before.  Exercise, sleep, and nutrition play a critical role in the brain’s ability to do its job.  Research supports that even 20 minutes of exercise right before an exam can boost your score.

Have fun.

It’s all about perspective.  And, it can be said that perspective does play a role in the result.

Best Practices For Minimizing Global Supplier Risk

We were just reading through an article posted by Supply Chain Management Review that discusses Four Best Practices for Minimizing Global Supplier Risk.  As a third-party quality engineering and consulting firm, we get questions about this often and have written a handful of articles related to the topic.

We like the SCMR’s four best practices, but did want to add some additional comments.

1) Make routine site visits.

It can be quite costly to manage routine site visits, whether your supplier is domestic or abroad.  All of the benefits discussed in the article can be achieved by partnering with a third-party to represent your interests on-site.  From facility audits to product inspections, a third-party has more local knowledge and specific experience in supplier development.

“Site visits allow procurement officers to ensure that workplace practices and product quality are consistent with their expectations, as well as to increase the likelihood of early discovery of major problems—from supply chain hiccups to unsafe working conditions.”

2) Invest in local advisors.

Local advisors can be the third-party QC organization or agent if one is being used, but a solid relationship with suppliers isn’t an impossible achievement either.  Open communication goes a long way here.  Third-party quality providers (3PQs) are unbiased and can offer extensive local expertise. Many third-parties are actually perceived as extensions of an organization’s own in-house quality representatives.

“Investing in consultants or other advisors on the ground in the countries where your risk is greatest, who understand the dynamics relevant to your business and can flag problems early, is critical to maintaining a smooth foreign procurement experience.

3) Reward supplier performance.

Supplier development is more than a reward system for supplier performance.  When organizations work with suppliers to develop partnerships, evaluation and corrective action is seen as more of a continuous improvement effort rather than a grading and/or carrot-stick system.  When weighing risk vs. reward, many suppliers that feel they are in a partnership are thinking long-term.

Rewarding supplier performance is good though.

“Getting out in front of potential disasters with a program that benefits suppliers for avoiding or mitigating risk is one of the best investments a procurement department can make in protecting the procurement function and the company.”

4) Build internal support.

Pick up any quality book, and it’s going to mention the necessity of top-down support.  Communications become especially relevant here. Make sure you’re capturing the right data and using it to communicate effectively to whoever your audience is.

Getting buy-in from the top corporate brass, as well as from senior executive peers in other departments, can be critical to securing the resources necessary for a robust and effective risk-management program. 

Also check out our recent post on 3 Ways to Improve Supplier Communications.  Pro QC’s VP/Americas also contributed a newsletter article regarding Reducing Outsourcing Risks and Cost.  Read this one to learn more about the third-party quality provider (3PQ) value.