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How to Solve Communication Issues in Manufacturing Procurement

Reporting & Insight

Across all sectors, strong relationships are integral to successful contracting arrangements. Of course, communication is one of the most critical aspects of a good working relationship. In many contracts, there are a ton of intricate details and multiple steps involved in each phase of the contracting process. Manufacturing tends to be particularly detailed and each link of the supply chain is crucial to the next. Thus, any disruption in manufacturing procurement can have significant consequences on the entire production process. This is why solid communication among parties is absolutely key. Here are some ways to avoid communication issues:

Establish Expectations

One of the reasons parties fail to communicate or run into avoidable misunderstandings is due to unclear expectations. In any business transaction, it is important to establish expectations from the outset. Doing so ensures there is mutual understanding and should help facilitate the exchange of information going forward. Failing to make clear what each party needs and expects may prove disastrous, as one or both parties may plod along focused on fulfilling its obligations but completely unaware as to how it may be impacting the other. Many details will be outlined in a contract, but this does not necessarily elucidate the timeframe, budget constraints, or overall goals of each party to the deal. As a result, establishing expectations and engaging in an ongoing dialogue are imperative to averting disaster.

Clarify Quality Measures

An important facet of manufacturing and procurement is sourcing quality parts. This is vital to ensuring there is a quality end product and maintaining the same standards throughout the manufacturing process. Of course, the definition of quality likely varies from one firm to the next. For this reason, clarifying quality measures before entering a contract is critical. This must be a separate conversation but concurrent with establishing overall expectations. In the event there is even a remote possibility that the quality of an item will not meet standards, this has to be immediately communicated. The key here is for everyone to understand the quality bar, to communicate any prospective divergences from that bar, and to be able to make alternative plans if there will be any sort of variance.

Explain Production Requirements

In addition to communicating expectations and quality standards, it is a good idea for supply vendors to have a general sense of the manufacturing company's production process and any special requirements. For example, if there is a specific timeframe or delivery schedule that must be met each month, this requirement should be shared. It will be difficult for suppliers to meet a manufacturer’s needs if they do not have a good grasp as to what those unique needs actually are. This can relate to any number of things such as timing, storage space, machine specifics, size parameters, and so forth. The bottom line is that both parties must understand and be able to anticipate whether a seemingly small situation or change could be problematic, so that this can be communicated and solved before becoming a much bigger issue.

Keep it Cordial

This seems so obvious and yet so many contracts go sour due to personal conflicts and poor communication skills. Building and maintaining partnerships will only be possible when there is mutual respect and cordial communication among all individuals involved in the transaction. Granted, there may be unexpected events and high stress situations that require quick action, but that should never devolve into tense finger pointing and blame allocation. The best way to prevent these scenarios or to handle them if they do in fact arise is to remain focused on the end goal and to communicate effectively to facilitate problem solving. A good practice is to employ contract lifecycle management software that streamlines communication on contract-related matters and helps build better and more transparent relationships.

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