Procedures in China Supply Chain Management

Keeping Track on how to doTasks and Missions

“I had been told that the training procedure with cats was difficult. It’s not. Mine had me trained in two days.” Bill Dana


We recently wrote a blog series on The Future of Communications as it relates to the China supply chain. Communications are avery important aspect of management, but so are procedures.  In fact, good procedures are essentially how a business keeps on improving its tasks and missions. Would you agree?

To get good and repeatable results from their China office, many importers use written-down procedures for each important task.  Because a procedure is a bit like a ratchet, the wheel of the system can only move forward. So, by specifying each step and enlisting the help of one’s China team to constantly look for improvements, one trends towards excellence.

Good China sourcing teams have procedures for nearly every system they employ. Below we’ve outlined some of the step-by-step procedures that are often used to manage the supply chain and get the best possible results.

Defining the Mission: Before the work begins, the mission must be defined. What are the buyers looking to do? What results are they expecting?  Which resources are needed? Clear communication between the visionaries, the planners and the China team is key for this step. Expectations must be spelled out in as much detail as possible in order to improve the outcome. Once the mission has been defined, the China team often extracts from it a procedure to execute on that mission.

Request For Quote (RFQ):  This routine task is perfectly suited to procedures.  A document that lists each required step to obtain optimal results makes it easier to get uniform, predictable and consistent results. It is also a great foundation for improvements and a valuable training tool.

Finding and qualifying factories:  There are vast amounts of factories in China.  A procedure to pre-qualify them, and then to fully qualify them is very helpful.   A similar approach is often used to perform audits for CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) purposes.

QA (Quality Assurance) is another element of China sourcing that is well suited to a written-down procedure.  In this case, we observe that many importers have a standard procedure that applies to all QA and some specific procedures for important, repetitive products that may require extra scrutiny.

Shipping Schedule:  A procedure to list all elements of a buying program in one place is a standard system and an essential logistics tool.  But we have noted that the quality of this procedure varies greatly, both in terms of content and in terms of ease of use depending on where and how it is accessed.

Monthly Reports: Periodic reporting is a good management tool that helps the home office monitor China activities at a glance.  Many importers have a procedure that makes that document easy to read and effective. Often these reports are supported by a feedback procedure that lets the China team know whether they are doing the right thing, or if they could do better.

In sum, good management leans on a foundation of good procedures.  One improves what they measure.  Of course, you don’t want to go overboard and become too bureaucratic, because that would be counterproductive, but then that concern would be addressed by your team involvement procedure, right?

What are your procedures like?  How do you ensure your China supply chain management performs? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


By Jocelyn Trigueros

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