Well, that’s just great…it’s spelled “proofread”

So I spend a week proofreading my post on proofreading only to be immediately informed by an observant reader (a former professor of mine from USC no less) that “proofread” is one word. Not “proof read”, as I wrote yesterday.

I take full responsibility, as I am the only one who proofreads my blog posts. I have dyslexia, so I always try and proofread everything 2-3 times before I send it or publish it. After all, I get enough hounding from the clan in China, to say nothing of the Zen Dragon from down under, that I don’t need to make it any easier for them.

That said, my error sets me up for a good blog post today. This experience underscores what I was saying in the original post – your business documents are far, far more important in China than in your home market.

Make a mistake or an error of omission on a purchase order, and you may very well be hosed. Do the same on a Product Quality Manual (PQM), and I can guarantee trouble.

Some time ago, such an error of omission rose up and bit one of our customers rather badly. We had followed the PQM as approved, but we had not been checking a particular dimension. It had never been in the PQM, whether we didn’t include it when we drafted the document or whether the customer left it off the original drawing was lost in the mists of time, but the error had persisted undetected by all for nearly 4 years. It was never a problem as long as the vendor providing that component did their job right, but we are all human and that finally didn’t happen.

Our team inspected the product to the PQM. The error was so subtle, you would never notice it with the naked eye. The client assumed all was well and shipped the product, which immediately were rejected in the field. Long story short, everyone was unhappy and we all lost, but there was no warranty claim to be made against PassageMaker. We’d followed the approved PQM.

Our policy is we will do what you tell us in the PQM, no more, no less. It has to be this way, as the biggest problems in China are the admirable Chinese tendency to want to help too much or worse, to improvise when a problem arises.

I had a friend who was buying pillow cases in China. All the samples came in exactly 1″ too big on every dimension. Panicked, he called the factory and they told him they so appreciated the order (for several hundred thousand units), that they wanted to reward him by providing extra material at no cost! After he got his heart pumping again, he contacted our friends at China Quality Focus who went on-site and got things back on track quickly.

Doing business in China is Murphy’s Law on steroids, acid and a truckload of uncut Colombian all at once. Muse’s 1st Law is “Never Assume Anything“. Make sure if you want it to happen (or not to) that you put it in writing.

I meant it when I wrote that we LOVE getting 17 pages of corrections back from the client. It is far better than a cursory review and signature.

We have four (4) internal layers of proofreading for a PQM before it is sent to the client for approval.

  1. The PQM is drafted by a Quality Technician, with input from the entire team, including the client.
  2. It is then reviewed by the Production Engineer.
  3. It is then reviewed by the Project Manager.
  4. It is then reviewed by a member of senior management (most often by me).

Only then is it sent to the customer.

This is a time consuming process. But the alternative is terrible to contemplate. Anything worth doing is worth doing right the first time.

So make sure you proofread before you sign on the line that is dotted.

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