The quality of a company’s products and services depends on its suppliers. It is important to examine the supplier quality control procedures that are most relevant to interactions with your company. You have to ensure suppliers comply with the minimum safety and quality standards applied in your company and that you won’t lose money or loyal customers because of a supplier’s mistakes. An audit gives you the opportunity to assess your current and potential suppliers from top to bottom and to suggest improvements to bring them up to your level.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Initiate a request for a supplier audit. Communicate the reason for the audit –- it can be a certification or recertification audit, a new supplier audit or a regular review of supplier compliance with standards. Suppliers will better prepare for the audit and be ready to answer your questions if they know what you are interested in beforehand.
Nominate auditors. You won’t visit the supplier alone. Choose people who will, due to the nature of their work, be most often in contact with the supplier. Explain to them why you are visiting and what you would like to check. Your auditors may have their own questions, which can be asked during the visit.
Go to the supplier location. An informal supplier audit should start the moment you approach its office premises. You have to examine the building, its location and cleanliness. See how regular employees, who may not even know what the aim of your visit is, greet you and how polite they are. Don’t forget to ask the opinion of members of the auditing team about the supplier employees because those are the people with whom they will be in contact.
Inspect the supplier’s production equipment and tools. You have to be sure that everything is in order and nothing may result in disruptions to supplies after you sign a contract.
Find out how the supplier deals with crises such as electricity outage or earthquake. The supplier should convince you that it has a proper emergency management plan so that you are sure it is crisis-resistant and will be back to normal operations soon after a crisis strikes.
Investigate the supplier’s customer complaint-handling processes. You may need to ask tough questions concerning quality or the timeliness of the supplier’s delivery and you may need to lodge a formal complaint with the managers. So you have to know if your concerns will be addressed and how.
Tips and warnings
- Don’t allow suppliers to take you to a site where no critical operations are done. You are there to see what affects their compliance with your standards.
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