You can generally rely on your QC provider to do an adequate inspection of most basic items without a product QC checklist. This could include a simple water bottle or ceramic mug that the factory is continually producing for multiple clients. A promotional product like this may just need to be customized with your logo and not need to last forever. In these situations, the factory is at little risk of making mistakes that could go undetected during inspection.
(Don’t miss the extended?podcast?interview with Steve that covers this topic!)
On the other hand, maybe you’re investing in custom molds to achieve a specific shape or size. Maybe you require the use of specific components or materials and have to live up to performance claims mentioned on the retail packaging or in your promotional materials. In these instances, you’re better off codifying those specific details in a product QC checklist to mitigate your risk.
Why Invest in Developing a QC Checklist?
Here are 3 key points to consider when deciding whether or not to invest in a product QC checklist:
1. Inspection Guidelines
Developing a product QC checklist sets clear and reasonable inspection guidelines up front. This will go a long way towards a successful end product, especially if similar products aren’t already on the market. A QC checklist can help focus a factory that otherwise lacks clear quality standards and procedures for its products.
Similarly, an inspector tasked with verifying multiple documents with potentially conflicting or confusing information is at risk of missing something. The QC checklist eliminates that risk by consolidating information in an organized manner.
2. Scalability of Production
Having a product QC checklist in place at your primary supplier makes it easier to expand your manufacturing base. You’ll show prospective suppliers you’re serious about quality and scare away most of the ones that wouldn’t be a good fit for you anyway.
3. Supplier Accountability
You want your supplier to be accountable for lapses in quality. Having the supplier sign off on a clear set of quality expectations helps hold it accountable in cases where quality fails to meet expectations. This makes it easier to bill back re-inspection costs, obtain replacement goods at no or reduced cost, or potentially walk away from an order altogether before it’s in your warehouse.
Getting your supplier involved in the checklist-development process is a perfect way to determine its attitude towards quality in general and you, specifically, as the client. A supplier that resists implementing clear inspection procedures, no matter how simple the item may be, is giving an early warning sign that it may not be a good long-term partner.
So What Should You Do?
How important these concerns are for your business generally comes down to your appetite for risk. If your company’s reputation isn’t on the line – and you have a great overall history with the supplier – then you’re probably OK just relying on the inspection company’s expertise.
But maybe you have plans to launch a new product or roll out an existing one from new suppliers. Perhaps you simply want to be sure that your suppliers have a vested interest in consistently shipping quality product to your warehouse. If either of these scenarios describes your situation, make what is generally a small investment in terms of time and money. Develop a detailed product QC checklist with expert guidance from your QC provider.