Is Your EMS Provider "The One" for You?


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No matter where you are in your outsourcing journey, ensuring that your electronics manufacturing services (EMS) provider is right for you is one of the most important success factors.

The perfect fit=the perfect partnership, meaning you can focus on the activities that are core to your business, such as marketing, sales and product development.

The right partner should bring you years of pain-free manufacturing that has the ability to evolve and adapt to your needs as your business grows. The opposite poses the threat of continuous headaches, wasted time and capital, and a threat to your brand identity. We understand that the search for the right partner can be daunting and there could be dozens of questions racing around your head. That’s why we have put together this article to help guide you in finding your perfect EMS provider.

1) Does the potential partner offer you the right fit?

The fit between an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and their chosen EMS provider is one of the most important factors to get right. In order to determine this, though, it is key that you have a solid outsourcing strategy in mind before approaching potential partners.

For example, are you looking for a full outsourcing solution, from procurement through to test and delivery? Or are you planning to free-issue your materials and are therefore seeking labor only support? Do your end users or target market demand certain manufacturing quality standards are in place? Are you looking for prototype design, design for manufacture or no design assistance at all?

These are just a few of the questions that if you can answer, will help shortlist potential EMS partners that will offer you a partnership that is united with your business need. Shortlisting 3 or 4 EMS companies who appear to match your product and industry is a great starting point to ensuring that your needs will be met in a mutual and supportive way.

2) Can you grow together?

If you’re only outsourcing a one-off project, then this section may not be that important to you. But, if you are looking to form a long-term partnership with an EMS company then it may be worth establishing whether or not the company will be able to grow alongside you and at your rate of growth. If you are introducing a new product to the market, will your EMS provider have the resources and expertise to support you during this critical stage? Or are they better suited for stable, repeat builds that rarely change? And once your product has entered the market place will they be able to ‘flex’ their production schedule in order to fulfil your increasing demand?

It is also important to consider how you will work together when demand settles down. For instance, will you still be assigned the same dedicated account manager? Or will you be assigned to a different team? How will the frequency of reports and visits change, if at all? We recommend you ask these types of questions in the early stages of your supplier selection process to make sure the partner can meet your demands both now and in the future.

3) Communication is key

Like all good relationships communication is key. But not everyone feels the need for the same levels of involvement and conversation. You may want to be consulted daily or weekly during the introduction of a new product but when continuous production is in full swing you may be happy to have monthly or even quarterly updates, assuming no complications arise. Having an understanding of how your prospective EMS provider typically communicates will give you the ability to form a partnership with equal expectations. Don’t be afraid to express your preferences before you have signed on the dotted line, so all parties know what is required.

Communication is an ongoing need within the partnership, so if something isn’t working suggesting a quick review can often aid in reducing the possibility of breakdowns in communication and service levels further down the line. However, you decide to tackle selecting your EMS provider it is important to keep in mind the reasons behind your decision to outsource in the first place and the results you ultimately desire from the strategy. With those in mind you should be able to find an EMS company that fits with your goals, products, industry and budgetary factors.

It is a big decision, but being prepared and doing your research can lead to a beautiful partnership with even more beautiful results!

This article originally appeared on the JJS Manufacturing blog, which can be found here.

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