“When we become a Sofeast client, how is our project managed?”
This is a common question that new clients have, so in this post, we’re going to explain how our project management support works.
What is the project management support that we provide?
Sofeast provides local project management support on the ground in China (or beyond) as a service that clients can choose to ensure that your order is on track and any possible delays are handled quickly. Your project is entrusted to a team member (your project manager) who is your single point of contact so you can feel comfortable that you have stability and won’t be passed from person to person.
They and the rest of the team are there to keep your suppliers accountable and will eliminate the time difference issue that you face when trying to manage your supply chain from abroad, too.
At the same time, they will provide support and advice for the next steps needed or possible supplier management solutions as well as any particular requirement you may have while doing business in China (from the many other solutions that Sofeast provides such as factory audits or visits, handling payments to suppliers, sample reviews, supplier background checks, product inspections, and many more).
Note that, if you only book some very specific services, for example from our Quality Assurance department, the price quoted on our website does not include access to a project manager. In those cases, clients can book services on our website and can opt for a project manager as an add-on service (see pricing lower on this page).
What your Sofeast project manager can do
Fundamentally, your project manager provides you with peace of mind that your project is being well-handled.
Here is a list of what you can expect from our project managers:
- Your project manager works on your behalf as a part of your team on what you need to get done to make your project run smoothly and successfully.
- The PM leads your project and pulls resources together from within the company.
- They handle suppliers in person, can push them to deliver where needed, and can visit the factory to apply pressure.
- The project manager always speaks both English and Chinese, so she/he will communicate with suppliers in Chinese and feed back to you in English in order to keep you in the loop.
- They can translate documents for your convenience and records. (Note: higher pricing might apply for more complex engineering-level documents.)
- The PM might work a few hours a week, half the time, or full-time for your company. For some clients, there is a lot of work and we have to assign 3 or 4 PMs, but one is the lead and your designated point of contact.
- There is usually no rotation of PMs unless we see there is a mismatch (for example with your communication style, etc.).
- An account manager, who has experience as a former PM, is also kept in the loop in the background to ensure there is no miscommunication and an easier transition if the current PM happens to leave the company during your project.
- We require no minimum amount of work on a supplier management project. You can use this project management resource whenever and however you need it.
- They have access to our engineers when they need technical advice (note, the hourly rate of our engineers is higher).
- The values we instil in our Supply Chain Management department include ‘be very customer-centric’, ‘propose solutions to problems, rather than complaining‘, and ‘provide full visibility into the situation’.
What they can’t do
Project managers don’t do the technical work, such as CAD designs or manufacturing process troubleshooting. Technical work is done by our engineers, at a different hourly rate which you can usually find on-site or get a quotation for based on your unique requirements.
Can we specify the exact work of a project manager in advance for your project?
Basically, it’s not possible to specify the work of a project manager in minute detail, in advance. What we do is we report on what we have done all along and you get a statement every Monday.
We understand that some clients are keen to provide a list of tasks to do and tick off for the project manager, but, if this is the case, she is not managing a project. She is just executing a to-do list.
For best results, working with a PM comes with an amount of trust required. After an initial onboarding where the PM gets to know you and your expectations, she will be capable of handling your project in order to get the results you need without you needing to spend extra time in ‘managing the project manager,’ too. This frees up precious time for you to spend elsewhere on your business!
Of course, if you have questions or need to make a change, they are there to speak with at any time.
You’re more likely to require a project manager when working with Sofeast on an ongoing project. Here’s how client onboarding would typically work in such a case:
- We start by understanding your situation —> a client-consultant or member of our management team will do this over the phone with you.
- An overall project strategy/direction is confirmed with you.
- Your specific requirements are noted (e.g. the confidentiality of your drawings, the type of supplier you want to work with, etc…).
- Your project manager begins executing on the project direction, under close supervision from the management team for the first few weeks who then step back providing higher-level supervision once the project is well underway.
How we communicate with you
Your project manager aims to make it easy for you to know the status of your project at all times. Here’s how:
- Your PM will report to you regularly.
- We adapt to use your project management or collaboration tools such as Trello, Airtable, or Asana, rather than communicating back and forth in long email threads.
- The project’s ‘next steps’ are planned in advance and made visible. Ideally, you can always see our thinking.
- Everything is shared with you live and as ‘real-time’ as possible.
- When a client’s action is required, an email is usually sent, however, your project manager will work out how you’d prefer to be contacted at the beginning of the project as we understand that not all clients want or require emails in cases like this.
- We suggest not using WeChat, Skype, or other chat apps to discuss important topics. This type of communication should be ring-fenced via proper PM software or official email.
As part of your reporting, you will receive updates such as “sourcing to order” workflow planning information to keep you up-to-date. Here’s an excerpt from an example:
Meet some of our project managers and Sofeast’s management team
You can see key Sofeast team members here. Not all project managers are included, but we actually have dozens on our staff!
Project management support pricing
The cost of project management support is 38 USD per hour*. We usually estimate an approximate number of hours required to begin with and then deduct the hours we spent, reporting in a weekly statement to give you visibility and control over the project.
Expenses, if any, are charged separately.
*Note: The hourly rate can be lower if you pay for your hours upon receipt of your weekly statement which is a contracted agreement that you sign with us.
Want to know even more about project management for your upcoming project? Hit the link below to explore…