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Entrepreneurship General Topics and tips Management and Projects

How to Identify a Legit Chinese Supplier

China is the fastest growing economy and considered the “factory of the world”. According to a United Nations report, about 28.7% or the global production is done here. Not just that, most of the production done here is more economical as compared to the other parts of the world. Therefore, importing products from China for the business is usually a natural choice for many people around the globe. However, it is often challenging to choose the right Chinese supplier from thousands of them for your business.

Carefully check your supplier's information to know if they are legit or not before closing a deal

Before 2020 arrived, if anyone wanted to do business with Chinese companies, they would buy an air ticket, and land in China to find an appropriate supplier/manufacturer/source and secure a deal. However, traveling anywhere, and similarly to China these days, is not fun.

Even though the pandemic situation in China is largely under control, and most businesses are back to their normal, but internationally, it is still not so easy to travel right now.

Now when your situation does not allow traveling to China, you have to deal with suppliers without physically meeting them. Therefore, it becomes quite challenging to identify if they are a legit supplier/company/manufacturer for the business or not.

In this article, we will discuss how you can identify a genuine supplier among a million others in China.

So What Choices Do You Have in Choosing a Chinese Supplier?

Many small and medium business owners like to import goods from China. However, they lack in confidence in dealing with the Chinese suppliers and companies. There could be several reasons, including the language barrier, complicated international trading process, scams, or bad quality products.

There are some golden rules that apply to doing business with any Chinese supplier, regardless of the situation worldwide. To avoid being cheated, it is necessary to evaluate the company for their standing before making a deal.

If you are short on time, and have a little bit extra budget at your disposal, it is always recommended to hire a local agency for your help in business with Chinese companies.

However, if you have more time than money, then some hard work and extensive research could potentially do the job just as well.

How Can You Identify a Genuine Chinese Company or Supplier?

There are a number of methods you can use to identify potentially a genuine supplier among the not so trustworthy ones. Beware that no method actually guarantees 100% authenticity on any company’s legal standing or reputation. However, by keeping your sensors on during your conversation with the supplier, and using multiple methods, you can have a good idea if it seems safe enough to go ahead with the supplier for your business or not.

Method 1: Request Your Supplier for Chinese Business License and Other Certificates

There are several certificates that you should be asking for whenever you are engaging with a Chinese company or supplier.

1 – Check Their Business License (营业执照)

Every company in China needs to have a business license issued by the government. This is not a secret document. In fact, the law requires every company to display their business license at a prominent location at their business place. To verify if your supplier is legit, it is a good idea to ask them about their business license. Verifying the business license is usually the first step when doing due diligence on a Chinese supplier. You may often find a company who is reluctant to show their business license upon your request. If this is the case, then probably something is not right.

The business license in China gives you some basic, yet official information about the company. As such, it allows you to check that your supplier is registered and operates legally. Let’s discuss this in a bit detail.

Here it is what a China business license looks like:

China business license

The China business license is only issued in Chinese language. You may use the “Google Translator” or the “Baidu Translator” application on your mobile phone to translate the content on the image of the business license to English. Beware that this machine translation may give you good enough information, but may not be accurate. To make sure about the license content, you may make use of a human translation service for more accuracy.

Chinese government usually issues business license in both “Portrait” (vertical) and “Landscape” (horizontal) orientation. However, both copies contain the same information. Different companies may show you license in different orientation.

The business license provides the most important data, which includes:

18-Digit Chinese Business Registration Number:

This unified business registration number provides useful information about the company:

  • First digit: Registering authority
  • Second digit: Entity type
  • Digit 3-8: Registering region
  • Digit 9-17: Organization code
  • Last digit: Check digit
Official Company Name:

When registering, a company may choose only a Chinese name or both Chinese and English names. Most companies in China are registered with their Chinese names only. They do not officially register an English name. A lot of English company names you may find on buying platforms, such as Alibaba, are using their unofficial names.

Type of entity
Official Address:

This is the registered address of the company, which can be different from their factory address.

Legal Representative:

This is the name of a person who is legally representing the company. This is typically the owner or the co-owner of the company.

Registered Capital:

Depending on the type of a company, the registered capital can be as low as 10,000 CNY or as high as 20 million CNY or above. For example, a small trading company may register for relatively a low capital, but big manufacturing companies may register with large amounts in capital.

Date of Incorporation:

It is generally good to do business with a Chinese supplier who has been in the market for at least 2-3 years.

Expiration Date
Business Scope:

The business scope defined on the business license covers exactly what a company is legally permitted to do. The business scope is typically very specific. Anything not mentioned on the business scope is deemed illegal. For example, it may include “manufacturing and trading of electrical equipment” and “no trade of items subject to license approval”. However, if the company is offering services outside this business scope, then you should obviously see this as a red flag.

QR Code:

You may scan the QR code to see the details of the company on government’s official database: National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System (NECIPS). Cross check all the details on the database to see if they are same as mentioned on the business license you received from the company.

Verifying business license is a good document to good to start with, but checking other documents can also come in handy.

2 – Bank Account Certificate (开户许可证)

If they have this certificate, it proves that they are a genuine holder of the bank account, and your money actually goes to the company.

However, a company may operate more than one bank account, for example, to handle different currencies or different modes of business. Nevertheless, the take away here is that, always transfer money to company’s back account, and not to any personal accounts.

3 – ISO 9001 Certificate (ISO9001质量管理体系证书)

Requesting for ISO9001 certificate is usually a good measure to ensure that the organization’s quality management system is certified. Cross check the details on the certificate, and also verify the certification authority.

4 – Test Reports (测试报告)

Request for the test reports of the items to confirm that the goods are being produced to the standard you require. Make sure the test reports are of the same items that you are interested in. Check the details of the report to see if the report actually contains the information that you need. Some supplier’s may show you the test reports of other items that you are not looking for.

5 – Purchase Invoice or Proforma Invoice (形式发票)

This is the invoice your supplier should provide you against the products you are buying. Carefully check all the details on the invoice, including product detail, price, name of the company, bank account information, and so on.

6 – Foreign Trade Registration Certificate (对外贸易经营者备案登记表)

This certificate is only required for the companies which are directly engaged in foreign trading. If a company does not possess this certificate, then they are possibly using a trading company to export their goods. If they posses this certificate, then it is good. Otherwise, check and confirm with them if they are using a third party to ship goods outside China.

7 – Customs Registration Certificate (进出口货物收发货人报关注册登记证书)

The Chinese companies who possess this certificate are registered with China Customs to make custom declarations. Not every company who is engaged in foreign trading possess this certificate, as they may use another broker for this process. Nevertheless, it is a good method to understand their capabilities.

Method 2: Ask Your Supplier for Reference

Ask you supplier for their bank’s reference letters to verify their credit worthiness.

You may also ask for their previous or other current customers as a reference, and do not hesitate to contact them. This will give you a great insight on supplier’s track record in producing the required items.

But, here is a catch. Many good manufacturers want to keep their customer list private, except when they work with some big customers that everybody knows. They may refuse, for the fear that their competitors may try to contact the customers and underbid them. So, this also may not be a fruitful method, but it is good if they provide you any reference to vet their claims.

Method 3: Use Search Engines to Find Out Their Reputation in the Market

Use Google, Bing and Baidu search engines to run a quick background check. Open a search engine, and type the company name and their phone number in the search field and hit search. The search results may display some useful information about the company. Such as, any exhibition or a trade show they might have attended recently, or an award that they have received from some reputed organization, and so on.

Now run the search for their negative reputation. Open a search engine, and search for “[company name] + fraud”, “[company name] + scam” and some other similar variations.

Use these helpful tips when performing search:

  • Run these search queries with their English name as well as Chinese names (with Chinese characters).
  • Use Google Chrome to perform these search queries. The search results may display references to some Chinese websites. The Google Chrome browser usually translates the Chinese websites to English automatically. If the browser does not translate these websites automatically, you can configure it to do so when required.
  • If they have provided you some images of their factory or manufacturing unit, use Google Images, Bing Images or Baidu Images to see if anyone else is using these images or not. There are chances they might have provided you images of some other factory that does not belong to them.

Method 4: Request for a Sample

Regardless of what you are buying, it is good to ask for their sample—even if you have to pay for it. When you have the sample in your hands, you can check the quality of the product to see it if fulfills your requirements. You may also know about their service and attitude.

If you have to pay for it, tell them that you want to wire transfer the payment directly into their company’s bank account. If they cannot provide you their account information, then the things are fishy.

Conclusion:

Doing business with Chinese company or a supplier requires due diligence. You should perform a proper check and verification for the companies to know that they are what they claim to be. Check all the details in the documents they provide to you very carefully. They may provide you a different document than what you requested, or the document that does not contain the relevant or complete information.

You would definitely not want to work with a supplier that is non reliable, often provides inferior quality products, or delays shipments. In this article, we introduced some tips that you can use to vet your supplier before making a final decision.

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Entrepreneurship Management and Projects Sotfware & Developers & DevOps Tools & How-Tos

Important Agile Tools for Software Development

Everyone admires the concept of “agile,” but how can you implement it in your organization? And how can you ensure that the agile tools support the procedures and methods you plan to use?

There is a vast range of agile software available. Perhaps there are too many. Everyone manages projects somewhat differently, which is why it’s essential to experiment with various tools to see which ones work best for you.

Although there are many excellent agile project management tools available, the following is a thorough evaluation of some most prominent agile project management tools that made our list:

Trello

Trello is so common among agile teams that you’ve almost certainly already joined up and experimented with it on your own. The whole product is built on Kanban, which makes getting started simple. In each project, your board may include several columns, referred to as lists and cards, each of which represents a job. When you wish to demonstrate progress, you slide a card from one column to the next.

Trello agile tool
Trello

It is ideal for small teams that need not more than a kanban board to manage their work. Moreover, it may not be the most important choice on the market if you want to move beyond essential task management.

Trello’s agile features include the following:

  • Boards
  • Labels 
  • User-defined fields

Pricing

Pricing ranges from free to $20.83 per user per month.

Jira

JIRA software is the most widely used agile tool for software development teams. It was initially designed for the problem and bug tracking but may quickly adapt to software product development. Due to the almost limitless possibilities of JIRA software, it has become the standard option for most businesses.

JIRA agile tool
JIRA tool

However, their unlimited list of features and old UI and UX often obstruct development for many teams. You must configure it properly for teams to utilize it successfully.

JIRA has the following agile features:

  • Different types of issues, such as user stories and bugs
  • Boards
  • Workflows
  • Backlog
  • Roadmap
  • Numerous chart styles for reporting

Pricing

Monthly subscriptions range from free to $14 per person.

Monday

Monday is a dynamic platform that offers an easily configurable framework for teams using agile and other hybrid methods. Because they’ve eliminated some of the unnecessary features included in conventional project management software, monday.com is an excellent option for teams seeking a clear, straightforward focus on the task at hand.

Monday
Monday.com

When you use this application, you organize projects on a board and then add the steps necessary to complete them. It’s comparable to a spreadsheet—but far more attractive, with various views (Kanban board, Gantt-style charts, list views), alarms, notifications, assignees, and automation. Additionally, a customized task board is included for tracking task status, assignee, and due date.

You can monitor the status of your agile projects using monday.com’s project dashboards, which aggregate data from various boards to provide a visual representation of work in progress. Additionally, you’ll discover simple file sharing and communication tools like mentions, comments, and hashtags.

In general, this is a flexible, simple-to-learn technology that places a high premium on customer service (customer assistance is accessible 24/7 through phone or email).

Slack, Google Drive, Gmail, Google Calendar, Jira, GitHub, Trello, Dropbox, and Typeform are just a few of the monday.com integrations available through Zapier.

Pricing

Pricing for monday.com begins at $17/month for two users.

Zoho Sprints

Zoho Sprints is an agile project management solution that enables an iterative and collaborative work style. It is equally effective when utilized by experienced agile specialists and teams entering on their agile growth strategy.

ZOHO Sprints agile tool
Zoho Sprints

A logical backlog simplifies planning and prioritizing work items in the form of user stories, tasks, and defects. Additionally, Scrumban teams may define work-in-progress limitations, sort and visualize swimlane progress, and monitor sprint highlights on dashboards. Work items that are not completed may be relegated to the backlog or distributed among current and future sprints.

The Global-View enables you to monitor progress across all of your projects. Each project has its dashboard, which gives project managers and scrum masters a bird’s-eye perspective of its development. Moreover, teams iterate their sprint planning with the assistance of advanced analytics from velocity charts, burnup and burndown reports, and cumulative flowcharts.

The project dashboard provides real-time information on all project activities. Teams may arrange sprint planning, review, and retrospective meetings using the Meetings module. All users can record billable and non-billable hours, and you may use the global timer to initiate a timer for any work item. The timesheet reports summarize log hours by duration, sprint, work item type, and user.

You may use the built-in Jira Import wizard to import issues from Jira. Integrations with technologies such as GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket are built-in for software development teams. Additionally, there is a Marketplace with many pre-built add-ons. Additionally, you may create and sell extensions.

Pricing

Zoho Sprints provides a 15-day free trial (no credit card required). Zoho Sprints offers a single subscription plan beginning at $12 per month for 12 users, payable yearly. Additionally, there is a freemium edition available for up to five users and five projects.

Gitlab

GitLab is a cloud-based DevOps tool that assists companies in optimizing their operations, making it a popular tool for agile software development.

This agile software solution enables developers to produce software more quickly, thus lowering costs and risk involved with security flaws while improving productivity.

Git Lab agile tool
Gitlab

Features of the software include the following: 

  • Workflow management 
  • Kanban boards 
  • Multiple collaboration tools
  • Reporting and analytics capabilities 
  • Workflows for approvals 
  • Portfolio management

Pricing

  • Bronze or beginning plan is $4 per month per user 
  • Silver, or premium plan is $19 per month per user 
  • Gold or ultimate plan is $99 per month per user

Selection Criteria for Agile Tools

The finest agile project management software has the following critical components. I consider factors other than its feature set, such as its user interface and usability (how simple is it to learn how to use it?). Additionally, I consider the tool’s value proposition about its pricing—how its price compares to similar products with comparable features and capabilities.

When assessing the top agile tools for this study, I looked for the following characteristics:

  • Task managementKanban or Scrum boards containing projects, task lists, and all the associated files and conversations, as well as time and cost records.
  • Backlog management tools — Polling, labeling, prioritizing, and re-prioritizing user stories and issues are all included.
  • User narrative tools — The most fundamental tools are cards on boards, which are available in every online project management software. However, more complete agile systems offer additional user story capabilities, such as specialized boards for mapping user stories and specialized features for user story estimation.
  • Team collaboration – Keep local and dispersed teams informed of progress and exchange work lists, comments, and assignments.
  • Agile reporting and analytics — At the absolute least, tools should provide an agile dashboard that displays typical agile charts like burndown and velocity. Agile reporting elements that are more sophisticated include progress reports for stakeholders, team performance assessment, and financial reporting tools.

Finally, I do an integration check. I want to ensure that the tool works effectively with the appropriate tools. In agile tools, which are often used for software development, I prioritize integrations with software development and problem management systems. Remember that teams working in non-development settings will not need this kind of connection and will benefit more from connectors with other work applications such as Slack, Google Apps, and Adobe.

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