Are you being bugged?

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Organising the factory visit

It is good practice to visit a factory where work will be carried out to the specification in the contract. The purpose of the visit
should be to confirm what the potential supplier has said in the quotation or tender. Who should go on the visit? There is no right answer to this question. Each set of circumstances will dictate who should make the visit.

There are some cardinal rules however. A technical specialist is essential, otherwise claims of competence and facilities can be made to the technical uninitiated. It is also virtually certain that a quality management specialist is required to confirm that the appropriate quality systems are in place and operating satisfactorily.

We would add that just because a company has quality accreditation does not guarantee high quality goods being manufactured. A purchasing specialist is essential for many reasons, not the least of which is to co-ordinate the visit and ensure  that each visit team member is acutely aware of their role. For example, the technical specialist does not divulge such matters as the budget, the competition, that the supplier is the preferred choice, etc. These indiscretions will, later, undermine any attempt at negotiation. The team should prepare an agenda and estimate how much time they will need on the visit.

If the supplier offers lunch that is a courtesy, but beware loose tongues around the lunch table. It may seem dramatic but it would not be unusual for some suppliers to ‘bug’ the private conversations of the visiting team if they have a breakout session. Are you being bugged?

Each visit team member should make contemporaneous notes and make a brief report on their findings. Points requiring clarification should be made during the visit if possible.

There is a significant business risk when no visits are made and there is business risk when poor visits are made. What is your practice?
Does it stand scrutiny? Is it documented? Is it ever audited?  We would like to hear your experiences.

Please call me and share your stories, – Ray Gambell on 01744 20698 or email r.gambell@brianfarrington.com