A China Hand Offers Advice on QC and NegotiationTo get a detailed idea of what vendors who outsource production to China have to know, you can do worse than reading David Dayton's Silk Road International Blog.
Dayton is the owner and manager of Silk Road International, "an international procurement and project management company that helps clients find the right factories in Asia and coordinates and supervises production, logistics and quality control." He has been based in Asia for over fifteen years.
The particular posts that drew me in have to do with quality control and negotiation with Chinese suppliers.
The most recent post opens with some cautions concerning personal safety in factory cities beset by rising unemployment, and then goes on to provide level-headed advice concerning how to maintain quality control standards in the face of a culture of bribes and all-too-human excuse-mongering.
Excellent (aside from the typos) posts on negotiation date back to last year. In May, Dayton compiled a list of ten negotiation tips for striking deals with suppliers and getting those deals fulfilled. To give you the flavor of Dayton's style, here's tip #4:
Anger is a good as saying you’re gone. Because competition is so fierce in China, and because there are so many other options out there, angry emails, arguments and blow ups, unless carefully managed, tell the factory that you’ve moved on (why else would you burn personal bridges?).A few months later, in September, Dayton provides insight on how to interpret and respond to such factory statements as "We did our best" and "This is good enough for the Japanese." He sums up his views on how to handle these and other negotiating tactics from the Chinese side of the discussion by noting:
As I’m constantly reminding my project managers, negotiations isn’t about what you want as much as it’s about understanding where the other party is coming from and what they can actually do for you. Understanding what options are realistic for your supplier is a valuable starting point in discussing how you’ll get what you expect (or at least what you can accept).Dayton then sends you on to an article he wrote in 2007 that has thirty-one further pearls of wisdom about how to negotiate with Chinese suppliers.