If You Can’t See It Then It Doesn’t Exist

One of the key reasons that some people fail at importing and outsourcing is that their objectives can’t be seen, easily.  They have requirements that are either vague or require interpretation.  In the eyes of the factory in a low-wage country these kinds of requirements are mostly null.  What do I mean by that?  It’s pretty simple in practice and quite complex to figure out why.  In practice, basically, a foreign factory, especially an Asian factory, can’t interpret requirements from an American’s perspective.  They just can’t put themselves in our shoes.  So, here’s the rule; You have to boil as much of your product requirements down to things that can be seen and verified as possible.  AND, if you leave something open to interpretation it will either be judged by the cheapest possible solution or they’ll take a stab in the dark at what you want, but that will rarely result in being on target.  Here’s a perfect example, an Indonesian factory was producing a piece of wooden furniture for an American company and they were using putty to fill in holes in the wood.  Seems innocent by itself and probably was, but the problem was that the color of the putty didn’t really match and when it was applied they used their fingers and left a finger print of putty on the surface.  To correct the situation, the American company sent an email to the factory stating that they ‘need to do better with the putty.’  So, the next shipment arrives in the US, and there are putty fingerprints covering a third of the items.  They had interpreted this vague requirement as fill in as many possible holes with putty as possible and they did it much ‘better’.