Imagine a world where your business can effectively scale its manufacturing. A world that doesn’t include heavy investment in developing your own infrastructure. Or, inconveniencing functional operations with time-driven activities such as document management. This is, in fact, a reality for businesses that outsource their manufacturing. In fact, since the early 1990s, businesses identified outsourcing as a form of business strategy with an aim to reduce costs. Businesses today still use outsourcing manufacturing to scale quickly and innovate smarter. Businesses outsource many components of manufacturing. Specifically, the areas of their business that cause unnecessary delays or encounter disorganized processes. One of these areas is outsourcing manufacturing document management. Outsourcing manufacturing document management streamlines business processes and results in cost reduction. 


Document management is involved in the functional operations of a business. Having document management helps manufacturing adhere to control and quality standards. Under a quality management system (QMS) there is document management. It’s a process where documents get electronically or manually stored, managed, and tracked. An effective document management system (DMS) involves an organized, defined process and software to help streamline workflows, alleviate paper trails, and reduce manual time. With a streamlined process, document management helps businesses bring their products to market faster. Also, controlled documents drive more adherence to a quality management program and iso-compliant manufacturing processes.


Businesses outsource document management to help manage workforce training documents, work instructions, CAPA procedures, and non-conformance reports. Outsourcing document management can also include other documents that need ongoing reviews, revisions, and electronic approvals to adhere to a QMS. 

Contract manufacturers also set up and oversee a QMS. When documents are created by manufacturing experts and use automated workflows, they are more reliable and repeatable in manufacturing processes. This results in reduced errors, minimal delays, and organized processes that save time and money. A business can then maintain streamlined processes and allocate focus on product development or innovation to a customer’s needs. 

If your business needs to operate more efficiently and improve your bottom line, consider outsourcing manufacturing document management to a capable, reliable contract manufacturer

Below are some guidelines on what to look for when outsourcing document management:

  1. Expertise and know-how 

  2. Reliability and security 

  3. Onsite and outsourcing options 

  4. Flexible or expanded manufacturing services 

What are manufacturing document management benefits?

There are a handful of benefits businesses see when ensuring their manufacturing processes have document management.

  1. Quality documentation has an audit trail.

  2. Quality and manufacturing records are more secure.

  3. Automated role-based workflow results in less manual time.

  4. Visible reports for analysis, revision, and creation.

  5. Authorization signatures are digitally captured and documented.

  6. Processes and protocols are routinely reviewed for continuous improvement.

  7. Processes and operations are streamlined, which results in more time and speed to product development.

New York Times outlines the benefits of outsourcing and these can apply as additional benefits to outsourcing manufacturing document management.


It’s important to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages to outsourcing manufacturing document management. Most disadvantages are avoidable with communication and business alignment.

Some advantages of outsourcing manufacturing are:

  • Business focus: Businesses focus on strategy and allocate operations where more profitability exists.

  • Supply chain management: Businesses establish a more competitive edge through effective supply chain management solutions and cutting of excess costs.

  • Increased cash flow: Businesses reduce unnecessary assets or processes and improve their balance sheet, which in turn increases cash flow.

  • Adaptability and flexibility: Businesses quickly redirect and optimize their operations differently as the economy, social climate, or market changes. 

  • Expanded expertise: Applying BCG’s experience curve, businesses become very experienced in manufacturing a specific product, which lowers their cost of production. 

Some disadvantages of outsourcing manufacturing are:

  • Increased communication reliance: Businesses need to communicate more internally and externally when they outsource coming from a clear set of competencies and scope of work. Additionally, contract manufacturers should proactively communicate and keep ongoing checkpoints to the business objectives. 

  • Differences in standards: Businesses who do not take the time to find a reliable partner risk compromising the quality of the product or other standards that are driving the business goals and mission. It’s important to hire experienced contract manufacturers and ensure they align with your business strategies and standards.  

  • Reputation management: Businesses may encounter adverse effects of outsourcing if certain foundational roles are not maintained in-house. For example, keep roles such as engineers in-house as they are greatly needed for innovation. 

Businesses need to focus on what they do best and outsource any areas of inefficiencies to reduce costs. As with anything, outsourcing has its benefits but is not risk-free. It’s essential to manage risk by ensuring the business strategy, goals, and mission are always maintained and anyone in-house or outsourced adheres to them. In doing so, businesses gain access to a network of reliable experts. Experienced contract manufacturing partners exist who provide offshore manufacturing solutions but also have services that follow high-quality standards at the lowest costs - driven by the business goals.  

How does outsourcing document management affect profitability?

Manufacturing processes following a quality management system (QMS) require many different, complex documents. This increases the need for more rules, revisions, authorizations, and continuous improvements that help optimize the manufacturing process. Many resources get involved in document management and review. And, when audits or operational improvements demand attention, the preparation for immediate visibility and review disrupts businesses greatly. When manufacturing document management is outsourced, a team is focused on building a document control infrastructure that will streamline business processes, which in turn lets businesses operate efficiently. 

What is a good reason for businesses to outsource manufacturing?

Whether you are outsourcing manufacturing document management or electing to outsource other areas of your manufacturing, there are a few good reasons businesses should outsource. Aside from cost reduction (the main reason), businesses see streamlined processes and improved speed to market with their product. This enables small and large businesses to confidently scale with the right partner. Below represents the findings from a Peerless Research Group (PRG) 2015 study conducted on behalf of Supply Chain Management Review magazine for E2open with 94 top supply chain executives. This summarizes the changes they saw from outsourcing over a year. 

Image Source: Page 3, Figure 2. These findings are based on information collected from 94 top supply chain executives employed by businesses with estimated 2015 revenues in excess of $250 million. 

Fourty-four percent of the respondents saw growth in their operating margins and thirty-two percent saw faster new product introductions (NPI). The study identified a continuing challenge of increased lead times but also stated that more collaboration with the contract manufacturer would help businesses overcome this challenge.  

Outsourcing manufacturing document management is scalable based on your business size, needs, and priorities. With the reduction of costs, risks, and employee time, the result of a streamlined business is a compelling case for outsourcing manufacturing document management. If you have any questions or would like to learn how manufacturing document management works, contact us for a complimentary consult.

Applied Engineering