A Contract Manufacturing (CM) partner can improve your profit margin by decreasing production costs, enhance internal processes, and offer Design For Manufacturability (DFM) recommendations. When looking for a reliable and efficient CM, here are the five things you should do:


  1. Create Your Wish List
  2. Much like deciding which house or car meets your needs, selecting a CM partner undergoes a similar decision process. We recommend creating a wish list: what capabilities should the new CM have? What would you want them to do differently? What are some “nice to have” items on the list?

    It helps to include input from your team at every level, from warehouse to final assembly. Identifying what each department needs will streamline your internal processes and help you better assess the value of the relationship.

  3. Outline Your Expectations
  4. Your expectations should be the guiding force behind a successful relationship with your CM partner. By outlining and communicating your expectations and goals, you can help ensure those expectations are met, the product is built correctly, and a long-lasting relationship has been fostered.

  5. Get References & Perform Due Diligence
  6. Before selecting a CM, ask for a short list of existing customers and reach out to them. Utilize their input to identify what issues or concerns they may have, if any, with this particular contract manufacturer. If you discover issues that customers have, you may be able to avoid the same issues on your build or eliminate the CM altogether.

    Give yourself time before production to vet out the right manufacturing partner. Issues with your board can lead to malfunctions and recalls – so choosing a quality CM can drastically affect your bottom line. Review content like informational articles, listed capabilities and facilities, services provided, and customer reviews to help you better identify what type of experience you may have prior to engagement.

  7. Understand Their Capabilities
  8. Not all CMs may have the ability to meet all expectations. Production capabilities and services can vary widely from one CM partner to the next, so be sure to compare your needs against their capabilities.

    Understanding how issues in production (if any) will be handled may help you choose the right CM. How a CM manages potential hiccups will tell you a lot about their internal processes and company culture. Correcting the problem is not enough – if handled properly, a complete internal investigation will be launched in addition to a 5-Why review and a written NCR (Non-Conformance Report) sent. The NCR should detail the root cause of the error and the processes implemented to avoid a future recurrence. Ask the CM how problems are handled as the proper response here could go a long way in building confidence in your decision to work together.

  9. Negotiate
  10. When negotiating the contract, review it thoroughly to ensure your needs are written in. Most CMs will send over a boiler plate contract – this last step in choosing the right CM can help you avoid confusion or frustration down the road.

Curious how we stack up against your current CM? Get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to discuss your current needs and how we can help!

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Comments (2)
Amber W.
July 7, 2020

Great article! Definitely helps when selecting a CM.

Sarah Fischer
July 9, 2020

Thanks, Amber! We hope these tips are helpful in selecting your next CM.

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