Risk and Mindshare (And Other Key Factors in OEM-EMS Relationships)

Take the time up front to ensure that there’s cultural and business alignment. Key to finding a good fit here are the concepts of mindshare and risk mitigation.

Because of factors like ever-increasing supply chain complexity and rapid technological advancement, I think it’s quite clear that today’s OEMs who are outsourcing their electronics manufacturing and product development need a partner with:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Appropriate technical expertise
  • Relevant industry experience
  • Strong quality and business systems
  • Teams in the right locations to support the business requirements

But over the course of my 30 years in the electronics industry, I’ve come to realize that there are other key factors in OEM-EMS relationships…if they’re going to have staying power.

Here are 3 of them.

3 Key Factors in OEM-EMS Relationships

  1. Both companies need a long-term partnership mindset. This is the only way to get past common hurdles in this industry that stem from a fundamental lack of trust and understanding. It’s also the only way to form partnerships that teach us and help us improve.
  2. As the service provider, the EMS company must always be seeking out strategies that will make their customers more competitive. At Creation, we are constantly looking to see what more we can do, other than “normal” EMS.
  3. Taking the time up front to ensure that there’s cultural and business alignment. Key to finding a good fit here are the concepts of mindshare and risk mitigation.
How do you identify the right balance between mindshare and risk in a business relationship?
How do you identify the right balance between mindshare and risk in a business relationship?

Why Risk and Mindshare?

In any important relationship, business or personal, would you rather be an afterthought or a focal point?

Personally, I’d rather know that my partner thinks and cares about me and my future.

I’d like to know that I’m a priority, and that my risk of getting hurt from carelessness or lack of consideration is at a minimum.

And it happens that our company, Creation Technologies, is in the business of ensuring our customers’ success by providing mindshare as a critical piece of the partnerships we build.

Watch the video below to learn more about how Creation’s take on risk and mindshare was highlighted to a broad business audience.

 

What are key factors for you in successful relationships, EMS, business, or otherwise? Feel free to share in the comments.

I love to talk about strategies to build relationships and help our customers succeed. Please contact me any time if you’d like to chat!

The Changing Medical Devices Landscape: Compliance & Social Media

Medical Devices: Creation Technologies Receives FDA Registration
FDA Registration increasingly important in OEM-EMS Provider relationships

One of Creation’s fastest growing segments is the Medical Devices market, and it’s an extremely exciting one.

Compliance & Innovation

For many reasons, it’s clear that the Medical industry is being transformed. I don’t think it can be overstated that, now more than ever, strong partnerships between OEM and EMS provider are critical to innovation and time-to-market.

After all, as the demand chain goes, so must the supply.

Fundamentally, the need for compliance is at the forefront. With the recent changes in FDA requirements for medical device registration and listing, more contract manufacturers will be seeking FDA registration to prove compliance capabilities.

(A small plug: recently, Creation’s Mississauga business unit became our 4th North American manufacturing facility with FDA registration. 12 of our13 manufacturing business units are ISO 13485-certified, and Creation Design Services is both ISO 13485 and ISO 14971-certified. You can read the press release here: Creation Technologies Receives FDA Registration).

At the same time that increasingly exacting regulatory requirements are challenging Medical Device manufacturers to keep raising the Quality bar (how high is high?), technological innovation continues to drive industry innovation.

For instance, the potential of micro electromechanical systems (MEMs) and the trend toward personalization are inspiring the new era of Connected Health, or the transformation of healthcare as we’ve known it through the increasing use of new wireless technologies.

For EMS providers like Creation that have extensive Communications experience, this intersection of what were once distinct vertical markets is exhilarating. And, of this subset of EMS providers, those with sophisticated Design capabilities have the opportunity to play an absolutely vital role in design and development of new modalities.

Medical Devices & Social Media
How will innovations in communication change the Medical Devices industry?

Social Media & The FDA

At Creation, we’ve seen our Medical OEM partners taking a more holistic view of patient care, which is one of the things enabling them to outpace their competition in this environment.

But is there such a thing as too inclusive, too “customer-centric” when it comes to the Medical Devices industry?

On the subject of personalization and ‘on demand’ use, it’s fascinating from a marketing and communications standpoint to see the breadth and type of information that’s being shared today in this highly regulated industry.

There’s an interesting interview with Tom Abrams, Director of the FDA Office of Prescription Drug Promotion, about the potential impact of social media and the much-awaited FDA guidance on its use (possibly slated for summer 2014).

As someone involved with social media and digital communications strategy, I was struck by one of Abrams’ comments:

“Our objective is that when you present claim information, it should be balanced with appropriate material, such as risk information. It should not just say all good things about a product and leave out the risk.”

While the focus of the interview is primarily on how pharmaceutical companies are using social media to communicate with their consumer audience, what strikes me is that Abrams is calling for a ‘balanced approach’ to social media use in the Medical sector.

Current information consumption statistics tell us that the longer the message is, the more diminishing the returns. (On that note, I hope you’re still reading!!) Similarly, many social media platforms have a very short character limit for updates in order to maximize activity and optimize the user experience from an architecture standpoint.

While this is almost certainly a chicken-and-egg scenario, the fact remains that attention spans are dwindling and so ‘balanced’ approaches are highly uncommon. Hit ‘em hard, hit ‘em fast, and with just one key message. Not several. Not inclusive, and balanced.

I’m very curious to see what the FDA’s social media guidelines will entail, and how people and companies will respond.

What do you think? How will this increased focus on compliance – in production and communication – affect a company’s ability to innovate? Will Medical Device manufacturers be thwarted in their quest to connect with the patient to develop solutions that best fit their needs? Or will avenues like expanded at-home diagnostics revolutionize the industry?

Hurricane Sandy’s Reminder: Who’s Got Your Back?

Help in a Storm: Business Continuity Plan
In a storm, who can you rely on? Do your key partners have a Business Continuity Plan?

I first watched Hurricane Sandy develop days ago over the ocean, and remember the weather forecasters urging people to “prepare” for the worst storm in over a hundred years.

I thought about the people and places that I have visited on the East Coast, (like Nags Head, North Carolina, just this past summer), and hoped that they would be safe through the storm.

I had a hard time believing it would actually happen.

Now that Sandy has come and gone, however, my heart goes out to those that are affected the most by their loss of homes and loved ones.

Safety, Preparedness & Electronics Manufacturing

In fact I’ve thought a lot about safety and security over the last few weeks, as I’ve been located on my (thankfully) safe perch in the Midwest with only local travel plans in the near future.

Many of us will feel relatively minor effects from Sandy, through things like the delay of the newest cell phone or tablet.

But then there are the other ripple effects and supply chain interruptions that result from this kind of disaster, like a loved one not receiving a life-sustaining medication or treatment because equipment didn’t arrive on time.

Bhawnesh Mathur, our CEO with a background in supply chain design and management, published a recent post about Creation’s Business Continuity Plan and the need for solid supply chain strategies and partners to ensure—or at least minimize—the effects of disaster.

Preparedness is one of Creation’s Core Values, and with regard to our Business Continuity Plan, being prepared means that we exercise the plan regularly and unexpectedly to keep everything and everyone up to date in this constant state of change.

Who’s Got Your Back? The Importance of a Business Continuity Plan

It’s important for your business that you and your key partners have a comprehensive Business Continuity Plan (BCP).

How far to develop any plan depends on resources and time, but most companies’ BCPs focus first on people’s safety, and then on network and data recovery and backup.

What about businesses that generate income from manufacturing products?

For companies like Creation and our OEM customers, our future depends on being able to continue to “produce” in any situation.

After the safety of people, data and components, I suspect the last things most EMS companies think about are the buildings and equipment that actually produce their products. It’s definitely not cost-effective to have extra buildings and equipment sitting idle waiting for a disaster.

But what if you had a partner with a global footprint, with each location running at no more than 80% capacity, on shared business systems, and with similar equipment and certifications?

A partner who, by design, created this model to ensure their customers, and their customers’ customers, would feel minimal impact from a disastrous event?

Would that not be the premier Business Continuity Plan?

At Creation, that’s what our model and footprint offer. We have our customers’ backs.

Riding Out The Storms

With the news that a significant Nor’easter is now developing off the coast of the Carolinas, I have my fingers crossed. Let’s also hope we do not see a Tony, Valerie or William this year. But, if we do, I’m heading to my brother’s where there’s 3 months of supplies and generators on hand.

It’s good to have family, friends and business partners who are prepared and there for you to help ride out the storms of life…and have your back when you need it most.

Do you have a Business Continuity Plan? Do your supply chain partners?

Hurricane Sandy & Modern Supply Chain Planning

Supply Chain Planning

Watching the disastrous events associated with Hurricane Sandy (aka ‘Frankenstorm’) reminded me that our supply chains are fragile entities that can easily be thrown into turmoil.

Sandy will undoubtedly cause numerous disruptions in all manner of supply chains. The obvious impacts are the loss of electricity and shutdown of transportation routes – airports, ports, roads, and rail services, all closed.

Simply put, the movement of goods on the East Coast will grind to a halt on Monday. Depending on the amount of damage incurred, it could be several days or perhaps weeks until goods begin flowing with a degree of normalcy.

This brings into focus the need to have contingency plans in place.

Preparedness & ‘Design for Flexibility’ in the Supply Chain

Risk Management and Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) are cornerstones of an effective supply chain strategy. Given the global footprint of a modern supply chain, disaster-planning becomes a crucial piece of the puzzle.

Events on the other side of the world can have an immediate impact and ripple effect on your supply chain.

In the electronics industry, we experienced two disastrous impacts in 2011 with the Japan earthquake, followed shortly after by the flooding in Thailand.

As we look to improve our BCPs, Country of Origin and Shipping Point are data elements that are growing in importance. They are key factors in supplier selection, and yet another reason for considering a Right-Shore sourcing strategy. It’s essential to minimize the overall risk of supply chain disruption while maintaining the ability to react quickly if disaster does occur.

Another key to minimizing risk in the modern supply chain is relationship-building. It’s absolutely imperative to partner with companies that you trust and respect, especially when disaster strikes. Over the course of my career I’ve heard of countless examples where a lack of visibility, open communication and commitment has crippled a supply chain…and in many of those instances, there wasn’t even a disaster involved.

No Time Like the Present

We recently had a surprise exercise during a leadership team meeting where we reacted to a mock disaster. Fortunately, we have a Business Continuity Plan in place which allowed us to calmly work through our established procedures.

However, it also served as a reminder that it needs to be kept up-to-date as pieces and people are always changing.

I was definitely thinking about our BCP as I watched the waters rush into the streets and subways of New York. My hope is for a speedy recovery for the people and areas that encountered Hurricane Sandy.

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