Audits are an important part of quality and supplier management. They are used to check specifications, internal standards and external processes required during certification processes for some standards such as the IFS or the ISO. They require a lot of time and energy from all parties - before, during and after the audit (more information about the audit process in this blog post). Once the audit is over starts the follow up and the implementation of improvements.
We will discuss in this blog post about the audit follow-up and how to make it efficient to improve your suppliers and your own quality management.
An audit generally ends with a closing meeting with the supplier to give a first feedback and an evaluation to the supplier. For a few certifications such as the ISO 9001, transparent evaluations and checklists must be provided to the supplier in order to make the transition to the follow-up process where corrective action based on the audit report can be developed, documented and implemented. The optimization preparation aims to improve production and supply quality in a given period of time.
1- Action plan
The action plan is a document issued after an audit to improve the existing standards and reach given targets. On the basis of the deviance from initial targets, concrete individual measures are set by the audited company or recommended as follow-up action by the auditor. The priority and weight of each follow-up action is then set according to the evaluation.
Development of a follow-up action plan
Concrete measures can cover the update of important supplier or product related documents such as certification or lab reports, but also production and safety related aspects such as employee training or the introduction of new hygiene measures.
The development of realistic delays for the implementation of the different measures is a key element for a successful supplier management. All measures need to be correctly set up by the suppliers in order to increase the general quality management for both sides and improve the relationship between the company and its suppliers in the long term.
Example: Accessibility to the hazardous material register
The hazardous material register present but not available for production employees.
Better identification of the location and easy access to the hazardous material register
General improvement of internal processes related to work safety thanks to trainings and workshops for example.
2- Implementation of follow-up actions
An efficient set up and improvement of product quality is only possible if the required actions are documented, concrete and comprehensible for both parties.
A transparent communication and a close collaboration with your suppliers is a central aspect for the implementation of follow-up actions. In the case of major deviation requiring a post-audit, it can make sense to accompany your top suppliers in the implementation process and regularly check the current status of the follow-up action.
Responsibility of the supplier
The supplier is responsible for the implementation of individual follow-up action within the time limit. Documents must be updated and handed in, employees trained and machines upgraded as required in the action plan. Documentation and evidence must be collected for each follow up action implemented.
3- Documentation and control
The audit evaluation and the final implementation of follow up actions should be documented to serve as initial position for the next strategic supplier evaluation.
Audit management with a system
In the best case, you use, as purchasing company, a central system for your supplier management, in which you can centrally administer your suppliers documents and collect your audit measures. If your suppliers also have access to this system, they can directly share in the system every document important for the implementation of a follow-up action.
In case of major deviance from a specification or during certification processes , a post-audit is required to check on location if all follow-up action has been successfully implemented.
When the post audit has a negative outcome, it is generally recommended to find solutions together with your suppliers in order to keep on develop a long term and strategic supplier management.
If a supplier fails several times to deliver solutions to quality problems or cannot finish within the given delay, your quality department can still revoke its approval. It can lead to a contract termination with this supplier.
Do you need support for your documentation, the collection and administration of different product and supplier related document ? You are looking for an efficient monitoring tool for your audit preparation and follow-up? Register now for an online demonstration and learn more about ecratum and our SRM platform.