If you decide to outsource production, you’ll need to find a manufacturer that can meet your timelines, standards for quality, and target price per unit. There are other factors to consider, too. In this article, we’ll help you explore what many business owners believe are the most important attributes of an outsourced manufacturer and work through the process of selecting the right one for your business.
What are some of the qualities I should be looking for?
If you’re like most business owners, you'll want to find a manufacturer with the following attributes:
- Experience and essential certifications in production
- Experience in your industry
- Capacity to take on your production needs and scale output up or down as needed
- Ability to drive down costs and produce at your target price per unit
- Reputation for quality and consistency in production
- Onsite quality control and product testers
- Excellent safety standards and commitments to protect (and treat well) the people they employee
- Commitment to meet health, safety, and environmental best practices
- Business philosophies, values, and practices that are similar to your own
- Ownership of modern technologies and savviness with new technological processes
- Ability to package products onsite or partner with a vetted packaging firm
- Ability to provide reports and timely information through easy-to-access dashboards
- Financial solvency to assure the manufacturer won’t fold soon after taking on your production needs
- A willingness to modify systems, equipment, or processes to produce your product
It’s important to ask any contract manufacturing organization (CMO) you consider whether they possess these attributes and to show proof of them.
How do I request this information?
Most business owners contact at least three CMOs that seem to meet their needs and provide them with a request for proposal. A request for proposal, or RFP, is a document that details your needs and objective and defines the requirements the winning manufacturer must meet. Interested CMOs will submit proposals describing their capabilities and capacity in hopes of winning your business.
What does an RFP look like?
RFPs are highly customized to meet the specific needs of a project, but they usually include the following elements:
- An introduction in which you explain why you’re sourcing a manufacturer, what you hope to achieve, and some of the key points from your RFP document, including the proposal submission date and the date by which you plan to begin production
- Background information on your organization’s structure, mission, and history
- The requirements the winning manufacturer must meet and demonstrate through its proposal
- The format in which you want to see the proposals, which may include a detailed outline, specific paragraph topics, or a list of items that must be included
- The selection criteria you will use to award a contract
- The timeline for submitting proposals, selecting a winner, and beginning production
Can I find someone who will help me create an RFP?
Yes. You can find an experienced RFP writer on a service like Upwork or through the site thebidlab.com.
If you decide to contract out the writing of your RFP, you may want to provide the writer with a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) to safeguard the business data that person may access when creating the document. You may work with an attorney to draft an NDA, or you can try this easy-to-use NDA template from LawDepot.
How do I make a selection?
Before reviewing the proposals you receive, list your requirements and weigh their importance. Decide which are must-haves, and use those items to filter out CMOs who can't deliver to your needs. Then, look for other advantages each CMO offers.
You might find a manufacturer that promises to meet all your needs and can move forward with a contract to begin work. But if your CMO candidates fall short, consider broadening your search, revisiting your requirements, or even committing to manufacturing onsite. You can read more on this last idea through this resource:
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