October 13, 2020

How to Outline Goals for Your Contract Manufacturing Partnership

Medical device manufacturing can be exceedingly complicated. Researching and developing products, sourcing and managing your supply chain, training employees, and ensuring strict quality standards can be challenging for even the most sophisticated manufacturers. Luckily, contract manufacturing partners can alleviate this pressure, allowing medical device suppliers to dramatically scale production and manage their entire process through a single point of contact.

If you've decided it's time to get a contract manufacturing partner — or change to a new partner — it's important to remember that not all partnerships are created equal. Finding the right partner whose strengths and capabilities align with your goals is paramount for long-term success. This article will show you how to outline your contract manufacturing partnership goals to set your partnership up for success.

1. Start with the must-haves

When outlining your goals for a contract manufacturing partnership, there are some things you just can't sacrifice. These must-haves could include specialized manufacturing capabilities like ultrasound technology, the ability to produce a certain volume of products on a short timeline, or dramatic cost-reductions enabled by experience and production at scale.

It's helpful to examine the strengths and weaknesses of your current manufacturing process, leveraging these insights to determine what your ideal partnership would look like.

As you outline the imperatives for your contract manufacturing partner, consider the following elements:

  • Do your products require any specialized or advanced manufacturing capabilities?
  • Do your products require any unique materials that are difficult to source?
  • Do you want to maintain your current supply chain, expand to a global supply chain, or source new materials?
  • What is your required volume for production, and how much do you expect that to scale throughout your partnership?
  • What regulatory considerations need to be met, such as local content requirements or audits by regulatory bodies?
  • How familiar is your potential partner with the market you're trying to serve?
  • How will your prospective partner protect your intellectual property?
  • What is your budget for this partnership?

With these non-negotiable elements solidified, you can feel confident that your contract manufacturing partner will check all of the necessary boxes — avoiding any potential disasters later on.

2. Determine strategic goals

Beyond the bare necessities, there are many strategic elements that can influence how successful your contract manufacturing partnership will be. For instance, manufacturing in a particular region might be key to your plan to enter a new market, or your top priority might be ensuring that you pass all regulatory checks with flying colors. As you search for the right fit, consider the following assessment categories:

  • Has your prospective partner successfully produced similar items in the past?
  • Has your prospective partner previously failed audits, or struggled to deliver products on time?
  • Does your prospective partner have a viable disaster response plan?
  • Can your prospective partner ensure best value sources and continuity of supply?
  • Do you need multilingual and/or local support?
  • Do you need to make frequent updates to product design and production?
  • How will your prospective partner ensure quality assurance?
  • How quickly can this partner migrate your manufacturing?

These strategic questions can help you evaluate whether your prospective partner will truly align with your business needs. They'll also separate the good contract manufacturing partners from the great ones. By creating strategic alignment with their contract manufacturer, medical device manufacturers can achieve long-term success in their partnerships and avoid any unnecessary friction before it even begins.

3. Consider the experience

While not a tangible goal, the service-level experience of your contract manufacturing partnership is a key consideration for a successful relationship. From the RFQ (Request for Quote) process to actual production, finding a partner that continuously provides a superior experience should be top-of-mind for any medical device manufacturer. Some key indicators of a high-quality partnership include:

  • A smooth RFQ process
  • Honest, proactive communication throughout the negotiation process
  • Streamlined communication through a main point of contact
  • Support and guidance as you transfer documents and materials to your new partner's facility
  • Processes that build trust and ensure end-to-end quality, compliance, and consistency

When it comes to something as important as medical device manufacturing, you can't afford to have a partner that creates unnecessary hurdles, lacks oversight, or fumbles crucial communications. Outlining your service-level goals beforehand can help you avoid these outcomes and enjoy a more proactive, collaborative partnership.

Setting your partnership up for success

As you can see, there is a lot of work that goes into a contract manufacturing partnership before you even choose a partner! Taking the time to outline your goals and solidify what matters most to you before settling on a partner is the best way to ensure you find the right fit.

For more information on how to prepare for a successful relationship with your contract manufacturing partner, download our Definitive Guide to Migrating Your Medical Device Manufacturing. This comprehensive guide features actionable tips to help you through the entire migration process, from identifying when it's time to migrate, to step-by-step instructions on how to achieve a smooth migration.

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