Supply Chain Management & Quality Audits, Part 3

An audit is an audit, right?  Absolutely not!  Knowing how to differentiate between a supplier quality audit, quality system certification audit and an internal audit is essential for effective audit planning. Let’s quickly review the primary purpose of each of these audit types.

  1. Supplier quality audit:  The primary intent of a supplier quality audit should be to   assess the supplier’s ability to provide a product or service that meets industry and customer requirements.
  2. Quality system certification audit:  The primary purpose of this audit is to assess an organization’s conformance with defined quality system requirements such as ISO 9001 or ISO TS29001/API Q1.  Of particular importance during a quality system certification audit is the verification of an established quality policy and measurable quality objectives.  The Registrar’s Auditor is focused on verifying that all requirements of ISO 9001, clause 4.1, and when applicable, ISO TS 29001/API Q1 and its supplements have been established and implemented.
  3. Internal audit:  The purpose of an internal audit is to assess the effectiveness of the quality system and its processes, which includes product conformity.  The internal audit is top management’s most important tool for determining and monitoring how well the quality system is functioning. Another key point of the internal audit is to identify opportunities for improvement.

The supplier quality Auditor’s time is better sent assessing  those areas and processes that are directly related to the product or services to be procured, such as control of documents, control of records, qualification and certification of personnel, control of outsourced processes, change management, quality planning, etc.  Consider this:  At the end of a supplier quality audit, the audit client wants to know one thing, and that is can the supplier produce a product or service that will meet their organization’s and industry requirements. That’s the bottom line.

Most audit clients will quickly lose interest in hearing about problems found with the supplier’s quality policy, quality objectives or how management reviews not being conducted on time.  After all, those items should be picked up by the supplier’s Registrar during their periodic audits.  Unless there is a direct or immediate impact on the audit client, most don’t consider it as a part of their mission to assist a supplier with maintaining their ISO 9001 or API Q1 certification via the performance of a supplier quality audit.

Our next blog “Supply Chain Management Quality Audits, Part 4″ will include an overview of our previous discussions and conclude this subject.   Thanks for your interest and all the comments.

ATCS, Q-Blog

Quality is 24/7/365

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