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Can you help your EPC customer by going above their minimum requirements? Or does the customer always know best?

I’ve seen a few times lately where a customer provides their suppliers with a cover page and/or transmittal template.

Immediately the supplier noticed they didn’t have a place to list applicable tags.

We’re all used to working with customers who are very particular in what they want, so rather than add the tags – that we know is good practice to include – the supplier gave the customer exactly what they asked for.

And what do you know?!

The customer then returned all submittals code B because…

it’s missing tag numbers!

We’re used to just doing what the customer asks because the customer is always right, right?

But should the supplier have spoken up when the templates were received about not having a place to list tags? What would you do in this situation?

Asking for clarification about the missing tags when it was first noticed could’ve saved time on both sides and avoided resubmittal for the missing information (tags) which we readily have available. However, some worry that this would rock the boat, so they just do what is asked without question, often because they’ve been bitten for asking questions in the past.

Despite how it may feel at times, customers aren’t actually in the business of making suppliers document submittal process difficult. Most customers know that re-work of any kind is expensive. Working together and having open lines of communication to discuss clarification requests is really what it all comes down to.

If you’re a supplier, are you comfortable with your customers enough to ask questions? Perhaps even make suggestions?

If you’re an EPC/End User, are you open to answering questions about documentation requirements and hearing suggestions from your suppliers?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this.