Creating a Product Brief for Overseas Suppliers
Outsourcing the production of a product overseas is a popular cost-saving strategy for a lot of businesses, but it can be challenging, especially if you have a new product that requires innovative tooling, new or complex production methods or high-end materials. These requirements are tricky, but not impossible for manufacturers in countries known for their cheap labour and lax regulations to achieve, but whether you are planning on importing from China or South America, a thorough product brief will help you to find the right manufacturer.
Your product brief should be as detailed as possible, setting out the various parts and features that are included in your product, as well as specific materials to be used and any specialised manufacturing process that must be employed.
Do not assume that suppliers and manufacturers in a foreign country will be familiar with any terms, technology, processes or materials that are crucial to your product. Products from China, for example,are made cheaply in large part because they rely on low cost and unskilled labour, using relatively low-end technologies.
Being detailed in your product brief will allow you to weed out manufacturers who are simply not equipped or knowledgeable enough to create a quality product for you.
A picture is worth a thousand words and can get around almost any confusion or miscommunication arising from language or cultural barriers. Including pictures of as many product parts as possible, from different angles, helps your supplier understand what the final product should look like and how it should be assembled together.
Have it Translated Into the Supplier’s Language
Don’t assume that your supplier is fluent in English, and even if they are, it is still a good idea to have your product brief translated into their language. For one, any English jargon related to your product or the production process can be translated and thus more easily understood.
Another reason is that business language is often different from technical language and while your supplier may be fluent in business English, they may not be as fluent in technical English. Also, having a translated version of your product brief ensures that the workers will also be able to understand what it is they are required to do. Of course, it is crucial that you hire a well-qualified translator to do this job, as a bad translation is worse than none at all!
Research Suppliers Before Showing Them Your Product Brief
Before you show any supplier or manufacturer your product brief, research them thoroughly. Get references from several of their most recent clients and consult with any regulatory bodies in their area or sector. You want to avoid is giving up your trade secrets to a dishonest manufacturer who may just end up stealing your product design.
Have a Confidentiality Agreement In Place
Protecting yourself from intellectual theft is vitally important, so before you agree to show your product brief or even discuss your idea, have them sign a confidentiality agreement that prohibits them from using, sharing or otherwise disseminating any information about your product idea or design.
This agreement should cover the exploratory stage of your relationship all the way to final production and even perhaps to a certain time period after your relationship with the supplier has ended.