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Outsourcing 101: The right relationship

There’s a lot more to choosing an outsource partner than just getting the best price for the project. Finding the right supplier for your needs and building a strong relationship with their team is essential.

Here are a few pointers to help you build a strong relationship with your outsource partner and tackle challenges in the relationship when they occur:

Some businesses are happy to have no face-to-face contact with their outsource partner; for others, regular contact is essential. While long distance relationships can work, think carefully about whether a long-distance outsource partner is the most cost effective and convenient option for your business.

An unclear communication strategy is the most common reason for a supplier-client relationship to break down. While digital supply chain communications have streamlined the way that suppliers and manufacturers relay information, it can still lead to compatibility issues if the system is not made clear from the start. Make sure clear communication channels are established, and that both teams maintain proactive communication at all times.

Business culture
How does your workplace culture fit with that of your outsource partner? Any outsourced manufacturing arrangement requires collaboration between both businesses; if the two teams have hugely different ways of working, it can cause tension later on. Discuss early on how problems are dealt with, how challenges are overcome and how they communicate with clients to make sure you’re getting the right partner for your business.

If you feel uneasy at any point in the arrangement, flag it up immediately. Trust is important in any professional relationship, but it’s especially significant when relying on a supplier’s delivery to complete a production run. If you feel that any concerns aren’t being taken seriously, or the supplier is being cagey about the time it takes to deliver your order, don’t wait for it to become a problem; take it up with your contract manager to ensure that you maintain a trusting partnership.

It’s important to know exactly how much of a priority your business is to your supplier from the start; while a short run for a seasonal product is a huge priority for you, it may not always be at the top of the list for your outsource partner.

At Steelplan Products, we do things differently. We believe in forming strong relationships with our clients, whether we’re servicing short runs or large ongoing orders. All of our manufacturing takes place in the UK, making it easier for you to visit our premises and meet with our team.

To find out more about using Steelplan Products as your outsource partner, call us on 01442 248 565 or visit

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