Importance of Feedback on Samples at Development Stage

One of the most familiar and common occurrences in all our workplaces is managers and supervisors constantly giving employees their feedback. Essentially this is how we get things done by showing the shortcomings or praising the work done. In this post our guest author Charm has explained the importance of establishing feedback system on samples at sampling stage in the apparel industry.
Feedback on sampling
Feedback on Samples

In apparel industry, we get feedback from various sources, starting with our buyers. From the moment they give us a techpack for sampling and until it reaches their warehouse, we are constantly get feedback from the buyer. Once the feedback received from buyers, information is given to relevant departments and individuals so they could take the necessary actions.

One distinct pattern of feedback flow in most of our companies is that information flow always top down and one way. Managers pass the feedback to supervisors and supervisors pass the information to relevant team leaders and team members. In a traditional organization this is normal and in order to manage daily events, tasks and achieve relevant KPI’s (Key performance indicators), giving the feedback to relevant employees is vital part of the management.

In a lean company, however, we recommend 360 degree feedback in order to ensure creating a great culture within the organization and of course to reduce waste. Often we find that the people who give the feedback not necessarily practically to do the work they comment on. 

For an example, once the tech pack received from a buyer, it is passed down to a product development merchandiser who will take it to the sample room. Sample room technicians and managers will get the samples done. Sample goes to the buyer and based on the comments development merchandiser and sample room update the tech pack prior to sending to production merchandiser. 

This is a typical everyday occurrence in our factories and we all familiar with such situations. Often this happens that when the production starts, they find so many bottlenecks in the production due to not making the sample and getting approval for bulk friendly method. In a sample room it is easier to do a sample using any technique as they have more skilled operators and facilities and they makes only few pieces of samples. Product development time (sample stitching time) also is not as tight as in a production line. So they have the opportunity to show their skill. However, in a production line none of those exist. 

Now let’s see what is the missing link here? If the sample room has a system where after completing a sample, all relevant department heads get together and have a feedback session to discuss about the sample. This discussion would help the company in so many different fronts. Operators, supervisors, technicians, mechanics and quality controllers can sit together and discuss the difficulties they faced while making the sample, come up with new bulk production friendly methods to sew it without altering the design features. Also another advantage here is that some of the suggestions and feedback will help to reduce SMV of the garment. Since prices already finalized at this stage, reducing SMV means higher profit margin for the company.

Also another advantage is based on the feedback from mechanics, technicians can ensure how to make the samples from the machinery available instead of hiring or purchasing new machines. All of these actions will not only make life easier for all involved but to save money too. 

Please note I am not discussing the risk assessment meeting done prior to sample making or bulk start. Typically feedback session should be done after making the samples as by then all involved have a good understanding about the sample they just did. As a result of the feedback session, all relevant managers and merchandisers and technicians aware the best methods and buyer can be informed about the suggestions when sending samples. Chances are 95% of the time buyer will agree to factory suggestions. 

In a typical company where lean management is in practice, suggestion boxes are a common sight. Encouraging employees to give feedback on the management, facilities, work and generally anything related work will have a positive impact on the company. When the employees are encouraged to provide feedback on the company, it helps to motivate employees. They feel their ideas and opinions are valued. This is a very important factor when it comes to retaining the employees.

About the Author: Charm Rammandala is the founder & CEO of IStrategy USA. He counts over two decades in fashion supply chain in diverse roles as Lean Manager and Model himself. He is an expert in rolling out programs in Lean apparel manufacturing and Sustainable labour costing. His former positions included being the first Lean Technologist at George Sourcing Services UK Ltd.

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