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Supplier Audit - How to evaluate your suppliers efficiently?

Posted by Bertrand Duteil on 14/04/2016


Audits are an important part of a customer-supplier partnership, aiming to check and improve the current quality and delivery processes. Required by the ISO 9001 standards, supplier audits can be used as a key element for the yearly supplier evaluation.

We listed for you the most important steps to make an efficient supplier audit and the different points and domain which should be at the core of your evaluation.

Benefits of supplier audits:

  • Ensuring that a functional and efficient Quality Management System (QMS) has been established.
  • Transparent documentation of optimization processes assuring the product and raw material quality.
  • The development of suppliers can be documented and compared.
  • Supplier risks and quality related costs can be reduced.
  • An active communication between customers and their suppliers strengthen on the long-term a healthy business relationship.

Step 1: Gather all information on your supplier

You first have to gather all informations and documents which have been exchanged between you and your supplier, such as contracts, delivery specifications, complaints or work instructions. These documents should be requested and filed in in advance within your supplier documentation.

Step 2: Checklist for audit execution

The following aspects should be standardized reviewed and evaluated. The checklist can serve as a comparison basis for all supplier audits.

  • General impression of the production: conditions of the production, its organisation, cleanliness, organisation and storage are appropriate.
  • Plant equipment, machinery and manufacturing: condition of machinery, are service plans and regulations for process parameters in force?
  • Internal and external communication: condition of the information procedure, what are the operating systems, security measures for the data protection?
  • Quality Management (within ISO 9001): how is the quality management organized, is the action of the QMS described, is there any documented process in force to measure customer satisfaction?
  • Testing instruments and equipment: are the testing equipments and the used testing instruments suitable? are they regularly checked?
  • Inspection: is there a quality management plan? are defective parts identified, marked, properly stored and excluded?
  • Employee qualification: are the employee sufficiently qualified, motivated and regularly informed about safety instructions?
  • Delivery reliability: evaluation of reliability based on quality assurance agreements: is there a traceability system? are there any plans in case of emergency?

Step 3: Audit execution

By using the checklist, you can compare the current situation with the desired one (based on contractually agreed conditions). The audit can be performed by the customer itself or by an external service provider.

Step 4: Audit follow-up

The completion of the audit process is generally followed by a final meeting with the supplier. Within the ISO  9001 certification, the customer has to let the evaluation/checklist transparent and available for the supplier. The audit provides the basis to determine solutions to improve the product and delivery quality. The supplier can then fulfill those tasks within a defined period of time.

You are now ready for your next supplier audit.

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Tags: Insider, Audits, for supplier manager