China Sourcing Quality Control – When and How?
November 6, 2017
For a lot of importers, quality control is another step in the endless process of “How to Source from China.” But which step is it? Is it step 1? Step 3? Step 5? And how does the order affect your sourcing?
Our opinion on the matter has always been this: Quality control begins before your order is placed. In fact, strictly speaking, quality control is just one step of a quality assurance process. And assurance, of course, means you don’t leave it to chance. You have a system, a process, to make sure you will get the right quality.
Here is an outline of our proven process for sourcing with quality assurance in mind:
- Evaluate your needs: This is step 1. Before you go looking for factories, before you negotiate contracts, before you sign on the dotted line and submit an order – Evaluate your needs. How do you need this product to look? How do you need this product to feel? How do you need it to operate? Once you have answered every question and have a clear understanding of all the details of your product, write them down. The more details, the better. These answers will make up your PSS (Product specification sheet).
- Find suppliers: Once you have a PSS you are ready to search for suppliers – and you know the quotes you will get are all going to be about the same product.
- Pre-order: Before you place the order, you will want to be sure the manufacturer is able to deliver the quality you need (This step may require an audit). Use the PSS as a guideline to establish how you will control that the quality is exactly how you want it and put together a precise Inspection Specification Sheet (ISS) that details every step you require to ensure you will get the right product. Example: Be specific as to whether you want to inspect the products at the beginning, middle and end of production. Make the ISS part of your order and get it signed by the manufacturer.
- During Production: Verify that the manufacturer performed inspections as per your ISS. Use an impartial third party to do that.
- Post-production: Most importers know that manufacturers respect what you inspect, so before you let the goods ship, inspect! And do it every time.
If you are not able to travel to do these inspections, you can use the services of a number of quality control companies. These are very affordable. Do not risk losing an entire shipment of goods because you didn’t have the time to perform the pre-shipment inspection.
In summary, each step and the order of the steps of your quality assurance procedure will depend largely on how you manage your China sourcing program. Step one most likely will be evaluating your needs and that of your product, however, the subsequent steps may vary based on your product, your needs, and your sourcing procedures. And having a proven process to handle quality assurance will give you confidence and help you grow your sourcing business.
By Jocelyn Trigueros