What qualities should I look for in a sourcing and manufacturing consultant?

Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze? Only if…

Choosing a manufacturing consultant or sourcing consultant to help your venture start the sourcing and manufacturing process has both benefits and costs. It’s important to talk openly about them both, and how you know when it makes sense to take on the cost to get the benefits.

The Benefits?
Generally speaking, sourcing and manufacturing consultants can provide you with expertise in managing and improving your sourcing and manufacturing process. They can make design recommendations, material recommendations, and help you organize your efforts to ensure you source and communicate with factories as efficiently as possible.

Consultants can provide qualified factory and service provider relationships. Sourcing consultants should offer the ability to hook you into their network of existing factory relationships as well as help you source and qualify new potential suppliers in a manner that is much more efficient than what you could perform on your own.

Some sourcing and manufacturing consultants can also take up the duties of managing the manufacturing and sourcing operations of your company, allowing you to focus on other areas critical to the growth and management of your business.

All of these advantages can reduce your overall costs, reduce your time to market, and improve the quality of your product.

The Costs?
The costs of working with manufacturing and sourcing consultants should be accounted for. Consulting companies can charge on an hourly, fixed fee, and commission basis. Given the rise in fly-by-night consulting companies that claim to offer the above benefits, a start-up entrepreneur needs to be sure the consulting company can deliver on the benefits, thus making the costs worth it. In fact, the sourcing and manufacturing consulting company should be able to save you and your company money overall, even with their fees included. They do this in a multitude of ways, some more sophisticated than others. But in general, exceptional sourcing consultants should make the overall process faster, cheaper, and result in better quality control.

This is how you distinguish from the mediocre sourcing consultants from the best. The mediocre consultants will simply contact factories and manage communication between you and the factory…and little else. The exceptional sourcing consultant company will assess the strategy of your company and engage in a strategic sourcing process that ensures your specific companies needs are met. They will not only manage communication with factories, but they will foresee potential risks, and either resolve the problems or create contingency plans for them before they occur. If unforeseen problems do occur (and when manufacturing in countries like China, they will occur), the sourcing consultant is there to help you solve the problem and improve the process so it is controlled in the future.

Manufacturing in countries like China, India, and Vietnam present noteworthy cost reduction opportunities, but also present numerous challenges that need to be navigated well. The high-quality sourcing consulting company will not only help connect your company to low-cost factories and project manage, they will control the process in a way that maintains a lower, total cost of the overall operation.

Testimonials

“Thanks to GSS for making our product a reality!”
by Julia Houck-Whitaker President & Founder, Hem Gems LLC