Supply Chain Management & Quality Audits, Part 2

The effectiveness of your organization’s supplier quality program hinges on one key item; that is selecting experienced and trained Auditors. Assigning inexperienced or untrained personnel to conduct an audit will sabotage the audit before it begins.  If your organization is willing to invest the resources required to conduct supplier quality audits, then it should ensure that a plan is in place to identify the persons best suited to conduct the audit.  Consider the following when selecting personnel to serve as Auditors.

  1. Their level of expertise as related to the product/process being audited
  2. Work experience
  3. Auditor training and knowledge of the audit process

W. Edwards Deming:  “It is not enough to do your best you must know what to do, and then do your best.”

Although some organizations don’t recognize Auditor selection as a critical/important process, make no mistake about it, it certainly is an activity that has a large impact on the effectiveness of your supplier audit program.  If your organization doesn’t have any established criteria for selecting personnel as Auditors, do yourself a big favor and consider using ISO 19011, “Guidelines for quality and/or environmental management systems auditing” as a starting point.  ISO 19011 defines basic Auditor training criteria as 40 hours of classroom time and audit experience as the completion 20 audit days in the last 3 years.  Oops!  Don’t have anyone already on board that meets these criteria?  Not to worry, in the short term, outsource the audit to an experienced and qualified Auditor.

I know this suggestion may go against the grain from some who are opposed to bringing in consultants or others in from the “outside”, but independent Auditors can be a great source for obtaining unbiased opinions, as well as a wealth of knowledge from past experiences.  The contracting of an experienced and certified QMS Consultant/Auditor will be time and money well invested.  In the long term, select employees from within your organization to attend Auditor training and assign them to accompany the Consultant/Auditor during future audits. WOW! This is a great opportunity for them to gain some “On the Job Training” from someone who performs audits for a living.

Let’s talk INVESTMENT!  Consider this.  Just as your organization is making an investment by conducting supplier quality audits, so is the supplier.  The bottom line for many organizations that conduct supplier quality audits is RISK MANAGEMENT and the proactive management of CUSTOMER SATISFACTION. Most suppliers consider the time and resources spent to accommodate purchaser requests for onsite audits as an opportunity to MAINTAINING OR EXPANDING MARKET SHARE.

Remember that your organization has requested a supplier to disrupt their normal business activities to accommodate your request for an onsite audit.  The last thing to do is to waste the supplier’s time and resources by sending in an audit team that is not prepared or is inexperienced in QMS/product auditing.  This is a waste of everyone’s resources.  Little wonder why some suppliers and auditees may become a bit testy during an audit.  This can be avoided, and the effectiveness of the supplier audit improved, by ensuring the assignment of experienced and trained Auditors that are familiar with the product or processes to be audited.

Our next blog, “Supply Chain Management & Quality Audits, Part 3”, will discuss the criteria that should be considered for assessing supplier quality systems and knowing the differences between a supplier quality audit, internal QMS audit and a QMS certification audit.  Knowing the differences could improve the success of your future supplier quality audits.

ATCS, Q-Blog

Quality is 24/7/365

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