Contracts合同

February 2019
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在供应商生命周期的介绍里(supplier lifecycle)笔者曾经提到合同在许多的战略寻源里是包含在供应商选择的流程里的,但是作者希望把它们单独拿出来写是因为认为它们比较重要,但是笔者不是专业的法律人士,在此不探讨太多具体的合同内容和注意事项。

I once mentioned, in the introduction to supplier lifecycle, that contracts are often included in the supplier selection process in strategic sourcing. But here I’d like to focus on it exclusively because of its importance. Not being an expert in the law, I won’t discuss specific contract contents and precautions much.

重要的原因是它是双方关系正式建立的象征,合同有效期的长短代表双方关系的深浅。“合同”又可引申为“和而不同”,将不同道的人“合”在一起。故而签订合同乃是避免双方合作产生纠纷的最好方式。大家也没见过个人之间借钱签合同的,顶多签个欠条,而且格式和内容描述五花八门。企业之间小额的交易也没有必要签正式的合同,而是以订单的形式体现。有一个关系谱线来描述合同所代表的供应商和采购方之间的关系深度:

Contracts are important because they symbolize the formal establishment of a relationship between two parties, of which the term of validity represents the degree of the relationship. “Contract” can be extensively defined as “being harmonious but not necessarily the same”, a way that brings together people holding different ideas. Therefore, signing a contract is the best way for both parties to avoid possible disputes in cooperation. Seldom do people sign a contract in borrowing money; instead they draft an IOU, which may vary widely in format and content. Likely, small transactions between companies don’t strictly call for a regular contract to ensure the implementation of business: usually an order will do. Following is a relationship line that describes the relationship degree between the supplier and the purchaser stipulated by a contract:

可见没有合同的基础,双方都只是操作层面的沟通,甚至很可能面都没见过,谈相互信任只能说是一厢情愿或者就如同网恋,你都不知道对方是男还是女,最典型的就像早期的网购,你根本就不晓得对方的货会是什么样子 – 看照片很美。从一次性合同到固定合同,是一种信任关系的体现,正是因为信任,所以才要坦诚相待,正所谓先小人,后君子,说的就是这个道理。但是实际操作当中,一说到合同,大家总是有一种不祥的预感,仿佛对方要给自己下一个圈套一样,因而搁置一边,反复咬文嚼字,斟酌再三,迟迟不肯签给对方。超越合同关系的就是信任,并不是说单单有信任就可以了,反而往往是先有合同作为基础,随着双方合作的深入,发现有些新事态并不在当初的合同内容里,才需要靠双方的信任共同去解决。夫妻双方经过热恋进入婚姻阶段,拿了结婚证,并不是说从此双方就绝对受法律保护了,免不了仍然会为鸡毛蒜皮,油盐酱醋茶争吵,这些就需要靠双方的理解,支持,信任去达到“百年好合”的境界。

The shift from call-off contracts to fixed contracts shows trends toward mutual trust. We have confidence in people before we treat each other with sincerity, which corresponds with a saying of “be dubious first, and then trusting.”

People often feel reluctant and hesitating in signing contracts for fear that they might be trapped by the other party. As a result, they would like to do anything, say, put the contract aside or be extremely cautious about the wording, but return a prompt reply.

Trust is much bigger than words; it is something consolidated by contracting relationship and surpassing. As the contracting parties go further in cooperation, new unanticipated circumstances may occur, troubles calling for mutual trust to be solved. A newly married couple getting their marriage certificate doesn’t have their affection ensured by the law. Instead, they will possibly fight over daily trifles. In this consideration, they should understand, support and trust each other to ease the tension, so as to live a life-long harmony.

合同是信任关系的升华,同时它也与信任息息相关,相辅相成,很多时候它随着业务的发展逐步展开,要说一次性把所有合同签完了才开始生意的估计在项目采购里是这样。一锤子的买卖风险是最大的,就像古代民风淳朴,一个人基本上一辈子估计就只会结一次婚,取一次媳妇,离婚或者再婚违背常理,被世俗所鄙视,因此那个时代结婚其实是一件风险非常高的事情,所以才有一句话叫“嫁鸡随鸡,嫁狗随狗”,因为改变的机会非常低。

Meanwhile contracting relationship can also be enhanced through improving mutual trust, the fulfilment of which goes step by step as the business proceeds. Perhaps it is only in project purchasing that business won’t begin until a full set of contracts are signed. People take great risks doing one-shot deal. In the past when people were simple and honest, most of them got married once, divorce and remarriage being contrary to the common sense and despised by the tradition. So in times like that, getting married was a highly risky matter. “Follow the man you marry, be he a fowl or a cur, “because chances are small that you make changes.

在固定合同的情形下,更多是因为业务的增加和发展所带来的复杂性变大,风险变高而在原有基础合同之上增加不同的合同,所以说合同只是工具,随业务的发展势态和需要随机而用。比如说初期只有采购合同,慢慢的发现质量需要质保,需要规范双方的验收标准,投诉的处理规则等等,于是就需要补充单独的质量协议;或者早期没有向供应商采购模具,后面开始向供应商采购模具,而且之前的模具涉及到报废年限,需要重新开模,重新报价,以及如何去分摊模具费用,这个时候就需要考虑模具的合同;之前产品单一,没有人提及品牌的授权,后面量大了,风险也大了,开始有人关注了,就会涉及到品牌授权合同。第二种需要增加合同的情形常常是因为公司政策的变换,而公司政策的变换的原因又常常是因为领导层变了,有不同的领导思路,以前的一些合同“不合时宜”需要重新修订或补充 – 这当然是指处于优势地位的一方。

In the case of fixed contracts, new contracts are added to the original one due to the rising complexity and risks resulted from increased businesses. So contracts are a tool that can be used incrementally according to the needs and development of businesses.

For example, an additional separate quality agreement is needed when such issues as quality warranty, acceptance inspection standards and complaint-handling rules should be regulated; contracts concerning molds are added when a purchaser plans to start a new business—mold buying—with its supplier, to stipulate the price, the sharing and amortization of mold costs,etc.;brand authorization contracts are referred to when single product variety expands to complex series which brings problems of brand authorization and larger risks.   

Secondly, additional contracts are also needed when corporate policies change, which often takes place due to reshuffle of the leadership. New powerful leaders, with different leading strategy, may make adjustments or complements for existing but outdated or inappropriate contract items. 

以需要供应商盖公章的称为合同来看,在采购初期作为供应商选择的条件或者环节之一的常见的合同有:

Assume the official documents which requiring company stamp of suppliers are contracts, the common contracts as the condition or link for supplier selection in the early purchasing stage include:

1.供应商自评表,在(博客-自评表 中有详述)Supplier self-assessment questionnaire (See in Blog- self-assessment questionnaire)

供应商自评表是供应商选择环节中必不可少的内容之一,它使得有能力有合作意向的供应商通过统一的流程和模板向采购方展示其长板和短板。

Supplier self-assessment questionnaire is an important part in Supplier Selection Process to enable capable and interested suppliers present their strength and weakness to purchasing organization using same process and template.

2.供应商手册 Supplier Manual(在分类-供应商手册中有介绍)(See in category- Supplier Manual)

供应商手册如同员工手册,通常在双方确定好业务关系,即将准备接收采购方第一张订单前签署,员工手册也是大家上班第一周就要学习的吧,聪明的人力资源专家们也都会让大家熟悉之后签上各位的大名。

The supplier manual is like the employee handbook, which is usually signed when the two parties have settled business relationship and are about to receive the first order from the purchaser. The employee handbook must be something that will be studied the first week we go to work. Sophisticated human resources experts will let everyone write down their name after the employee reads through the employee manual.

3.质量保证协议Quality Assurance Agreement (见博客-为什么质量保证协议很重要(See in Blog-Why Is the Quality Assurance Agreement Important?)

作为供应商手册的解释性指引,它有助于供应商理解并按照采购方具体的质量保证流程,要求和期望行事。其中包含规格上的共识达成,产品和工艺的批准,工程变更的管理,质保条款,投诉管理流程等等,通过签署合同来约束双方的职责和权限。

As explainary guidance to Supplier Manual, to enable supplier understand and follow customer specific requirement and expectation over the Quality Assurance Process throughout from Specification Agreement, Product and Process Approval, Engineering Change, Warranty and Complaints Management Process etc., by binding them legally through signing off the agreement.

4.供应商信息登记表Supplier Profile (见分类 – 供应商信息登记表)(See Category- Supplier Profile)

供应商信息登记表相当于企业在采购方的身份档案,把供应商信息登记表也列入合同部分的原因是确保承诺的书面化及有效性,规范信息的验证,传递,审批和存档。

The supplier profile serves as a company identity file recorded at the purchaser side. It is listed in contract partially because the validity of the written commitment can be ensured and information verification, delivery, approval and archiving can be regulated this way.

5.无有毒有害物质申明Non-hazardous Substances Declaration (模板请在网站内搜索) (For templates, please search in the website.)

围绕REACH, RoHS, 冲突物质的符合性证书和(或)声明是为了确保供应商持续符合日益增长的各国针对“有毒有害物质”的限制所制定的各类法律法规,从而保护采购方免于因为违反这些指令而招致严重的处罚。它也属于承诺性声明的一种,作为规范的企业管理来讲,企业在签署之前一定会事先调查整个供应链上的风险。

The objective of Certificate of Conformity (CoC) and/or Declaration Letter over REACH, RoHS, Conflict Minerals (SEC), etc. is to ensure suppliers are continuously complying with the increasing statutory requirement and regulations of Hazardous Substances (HS) from worldwide, and as a result to protect purchasing organization away from any severe penalties due to HS subjects. It is also a sort of commitment statement. A company with standard business management usually will investigate the risks in the whole supply chain before signing the agreement for customers.

6.品牌授权 Brand Authorization (模板请在网站内搜索)(For templates, please search in the website.)

作为基本的商业规则,品牌授权的目的是确保供应商及其分供方被依法授权并正确使用采购方或者上游客户的商标,并接受采购方的监控。

As basic business rule, the objective of Brand Authorization is to ensure suppliers and their sub-suppliers are authorized legally to use purchasing organizations or upstream customers’ trademarks and correctly use them under supervision.

7.供应协议Supply Agreement

供应协议是在固定合同上基于伙伴关系的拓展,大多数的供应协议在是业务拓展到一定基础之后才提出来的,但是仍然也有一些供应协议在采购关系建立初期就要求签署了,原因往往是因为项目关键或者技术关键。供应合同是总的合同,用于解释和推动交易,内容包括采购主体,订单框架,订单预测,生产要求,具体交期要求,库存要求,基础付款条款及改善要求,质量争议,赔偿机制等等。

The supply agreement is an extension of partnership on the basis of fixed contracts. While most supply agreements are not proposed until the business has extended to some degree, some are signed in the early stage of building relationship mainly because of project critical  or key technologies. Supply Agreement is general contract to interpret and facilitate the transaction, including purchasing object, order framework, forecast, production, delivery, stock, payment, quality dispute, compensation, etc.

 其目的是有助于合同双方在日常沟通中达成共识。当然作为总的框架合同,供应合同也可用于被增补一些更具体的合同和协议,比如报价条款协议,前置期协议,计划协议或者又称准时交货协议,安全库存协议或者又称供方库存协议,返点协议等等。Its objective is to help the both sides of contractor reach an common sense in daily communication. As a general contract, Supply Agreement can be amended by associated specific contracts like quotation term agreement, lead time agreement, schedule agreement or JIT agreement, safety stock agreement or VMI agreement, Rebate Agreement, on so on.                                                               

8.保密协议 NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement)

保密协议同样是在业务关系建立之前就应该完成的步骤,它是报价的基础合同,以免报价信息被泄露。保密协议定义了在何种情形和条件下专有信息不可以被使用,复制以及泄露,比如说询价,打样,广告,参展,生产,外发加工,存储,甚至产品退市时的收尾等等。

Non-Disclosure Agreements should also be signed before the establishment of business relationship, which is the underlying contract for quotation to protect the information from being leaked. Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) sets forth the terms and conditions under which Proprietary Information may be used, duplicated and disclosed in conjunction with the request for a quotation, sample, advertising, exhibition, in-house production, outsourcing, storage, or even EOL clean up.

9.知识产权协议 IP Agreement

“知识产权”指所有智慧及工业相关权利,包括专利,版权,已注册或未注册商标,已注册或未注册设计,贸易机密,科学发现,发明,机密工艺,文艺作品,商业方法,程序等等。Intellectual Property means all intellectual and industrial property rights including patent, copyright, registered and unregistered trademarks, registered and unregistered designs, trade secrets, discoveries, inventions, secret processes, works, business methods, procedures, etc.

知识产权协议通常和保密协议合并列为一份合同,称为“知识产权保密协议”,但考虑到经常在实际操作中不涉及知识产权,但是又有基本的信息保密的要求,因此保密协议归保密协议,知识产权协议独立开来。如果采购方有产品设计,专利等特殊的要求,就需要在供应商选择初期同供应商先把知识产权合同签署,以降低商业风险。

IP agreements and Non-Disclosure Agreement are usually listed as one contract, known as the “confidentiality agreement on intellectual property rights”. But in practice, IP is not so often referred to while confidentiality for basic information is required, so they two are again separated apart. If the purchaser has special requirements of, say, product design, patent and so on, it should sign an IP agreement with the supplier in the early stage of supplier selection to reduce business risks.

这些协议主要在供应商选择阶段使用,除此之外还有其他一些衍生的协议贯穿整个按供应商的生命周期,衍生的协议主要是因为业务的复杂性,比方集团公司希望集中采购,那出于整合和统一业务的需要可能会有总供应协议(Master Supply Agreement)。这些协议按供应商的生命周期来排的话笔者的理解是这样的:

These agreements are mainly used in the supplier selection stage. Besides, there are some derivative agreements that serve throughout the whole supplier life cycle. These derivative agreements are called for due to the business complexity. For example, if a group corporation intends centralized purchasing, the master supply agreement may be needed to integrate and unify businesses. Here is my understanding of these agreements sequenced in the supplier life cycle:

色带的起点代表从那个环节开始启动或签署相关的协议,有些色带横跨好几个生命阶段甚至整个生命周期的原因是可能在当初应该建立这些协议的时候采购方相应的流程还没有建立完善。

The starting point of the ribbon represents the link where a related agreement gets started. Some ribbons cover more than one life stages, or even the whole life cycle; it may be because some relevant process haven’t been well established by the purchaser when these agreements are to be formed.

而在其后采购方将相关的流程健全之后,仍然有必要同已经存在业务关系的供应商基于合作的前景来补充这些合同和协议,这也是说为什么采购活动和供应商管理不是一成不变而是动态的关系的原因。

After the process is well-established by the purchaser, however, it is still necessary that the purchaser complement these contracts and agreements with the supplier with whom it has already built business relationship on the basis of future cooperation. It also accounts for the reason why purchasing and supplier management are dynamic rather than immutable.

但是基本上在供应商退出阶段由于资源的有限性和业务关系的减弱不会再花大量的精力来推动供应商签署协议,而主要是研究如何善后和收场。

But in the supplier exit stage, no more efforts will be taken to reach agreements due to resource limitation and reducing business relationship. Instead, the purchaser will try to find out how to end this relationship properly.

这么多的合同一定需要定义好相关的职责和权限,否则在供应商管理里,其实是有采购方不同的职能部门同供应商打交道的,如果没有清晰的沟通和定义就会存在信息沟通混乱,资源浪费,造成供应商误解,签署合同时间延期等问题。笔者的经验是以下几个方面要规范:

With so many contracts, it is required that duties and permission be clearly defined. In supplier management, the supplier actually has to deal with various functional departments of the purchaser. Lack of clear duty definition, problems may arise such as communication confusion, resources wastes, misunderstanding by suppliers and delay in contract signing. According to my own experience, regulations can be undertaken in the following aspects:

  1. Initiator发起人

谁发起相应的合同,通常是具体指定的岗位。

Those who initiate relevant contracts, usually a specific responsible position or person.

  1. Distributor 分发人

谁发合同给供应商,不一定和发起人是同一个人,因为合同有可能同其他信息一起打包给供应商,以显示是一个完整的要求。

Those who send contracts to the supplier, not necessarily the same one as initiator for a contract may be packed with other information to supplier, making it a complete order.

  1. Driver/Owner 驱动者

发给供应商之后谁负责跟进,解释具体的内容和要求,甚至协调内外双方做一些谈判和让步,以促成合同的达成。

Those who trace the contract sent to the supplier, explaining the specific content and requirements, and coordinating negotiations and concessions between the internal and the external parties in order for the fulfilment of the contract.

  1. Monitor/Overviewer 监控者

指谁拥有并维护整个合同状况的一览,以确保所有合同信息的有效性,分布及进展。

Those who possess and maintain the status of the whole contract, to ensure the validity, distribution and progress of all contracting information.

  1. Archiver 存档负责人

合同签署后的归档责任人,负责存档,保管签署好的文件以及在合同到期前提醒相关人员。

Those who are responsible for file archiving after the signing of the contract, storing signed documents and reminding relevant personnel before the expiration of the contract.

  1. Procedure and Template Owner 程序和模板拥有者

负责相应合同的流程和模板编撰,不同的合同的管理流程会有所区别,通常驱动者也会是流程的拥有者,而具体的合同的模板则会由其连同其他相关的法务人员和参与人员一同制定,如此才在具体的谈判环节对哪些内容部和板块可以有所取舍得心应手,不至于细枝末节都向上汇报。

Those who are responsible for the compilation of relevant processes and templates. Different contracts differ in management process. Usually the driver is also the owner of the process and the specific contract template is designed by it with the joint efforts of some legal personnel and other participants. In this way, people will feel easy and flexible to make minor amendment in contents and templates in specific negotiations rather than report all the details to their boss.

合同不能滥用,作为一种关系的象征和证明,没有必要整日牢记于心,也不必大小事宜均以之为准绳,否则容易导致双方产生误会,造成关系紧张。动辄拿结婚证或劳动合同来说事,来指责对方对错的一定是还未成熟的小姑娘,小伙子或者涉世未深的人力资源入门级人士。

Contracts cannot be abused. As a symbol for and an evidence of a relationship, it is not necessary to bear contracts in mind or codify it as a guide for all behaviors, which may otherwise lead to misunderstanding and tension between the two parties. Those who merely count on the marriage certificate or the labor contract to judge others and for help must be immature youths or inexperienced human resources stuff.

 

Great Acknowledge Given to Ms. Claire Wang from Guangdong University of Foreign Studies for Translation.