By The Pro QC Quality Assurance Team
Making sure that your suppliers comply with quality management systems, and are in adherence with international standards, can be costly and often difficult. What are the main challenges and alternatives?
Challenges of supplier compliance abroad
Unless you have an anchored on-ground presence in your manufacturing country, it can be quite difficult to ensure your suppliers maintain high-quality standards. Without being able to hover over their shoulders constantly, problems can quickly escalate with manufacturing or documentation not adhering to international standards. The resulting increase in costs and defects can become difficult for even the best brands to overcome.
For companies that want to maintain best practices, gain a competitive advantage, maintain standards, and reduce costs, outsourcing quality assurance services can be a viable alternative to achieve these goals.
Why subcontract quality assurance?
Partnering with a trustworthy and reliable third-party quality assurance company can help ensure compliance and assure that manufactured products match your requirements. Quality functions that are outsourced include internal audits, manufacturing process audits, as well as compliance preparation audits. In addition to auditing, there are several advantages to subcontracting quality assurance; these include financials, experience, and local country expertise.
An end-goal of greater profitability is one of the main reasons behind companies procuring external quality assurance services. Outsourcing internal audit functions enables the company to focus on running the business on a day-to-day basis without having to worry about the financials of training an internal team to perform audits. Outsourcing effectively reduces fixed costs, not only from a salary, budget, and management perspective but also saves on having to provide a working space for the team. With the global business environment in constant flux, it is considered more prudent to focus on product design and development and setting global quality standards.
While the hourly cost for external auditors can initially appear to be more expensive, it is invariably less costly than hiring, training, and retaining internal staff to perform these integral QMS functions. At the end of the day, overall costs for external resources are lower while internal expectations for service and quality can remain high.
Quality assurance activities are often an added responsibility and burden for internal business teams. The individual resources often do not have the training or experience in managing the full scope of quality management systems, especially internal audit processes. It’s also particularly difficult for HR to set up local, in-country quality teams without the requisite local knowledge and experience. With a third-party expert on board, the team’s time is freed up to take on other projects and tasks.
This level of flexibility is useful in the event of constantly changing challenges and requirements. The third-party expert can focus on the project in-country. They keep a watchful eye on factory performance and ensure project progression is assured.
Local Country Expertise
With manufacturing on such a global scale, it is not always possible to have a team on the ground in the country where your suppliers are located. Subcontracting quality assurance ensures you are handing over to a team that has direct local in-country expertise. This covers an understanding of local regulations and speaking the local language. The third-party expert can thus communicate effectively with the supplier, understand critical documentation, and appreciate the local culture and cultural differences to the buyer’s home country.
Using China as an example sourcing location, it is important to be able to read simplified Chinese so as not to miss critical information on documentation. Having a local person on the ground in China also ensures there is no communication gap. Often companies will treat their suppliers abroad as if they were from the same country, which can be a hazardous practice considering process standards, definitions of quality, and equipment used in production can be quite different. However, this information can be lost in translation due to cultural nuances.
In summary, subcontracting quality assurance services enable businesses to focus on improving efficiencies and boosting their company’s bottom line. Contact us if you’re interested in learning more about how ProQC can help your business as third-party quality assurance experts with direct expertise in over 88 countries.