Having a chain of suppliers capable of satisfying industrial demands with quality, and in accordance with the demands and standards of the QMS, ensures excellence in the products manufactured and customer satisfaction. Supplier quality auditing is the most effective tool to achieve this purpose.

It is essential that all suppliers are qualified in accordance with the requirements of the Quality Inspection System, but also with the determinations and regulations that regulate the activities carried out by the organization. The quality audit of suppliers ensures that the supply chain is reliable and that it is aligned with the quality objectives pursued by the organization.

But what is the best way to perform a quality audit of suppliers, which is effective and offers reliable results?… That is our topic today. Let’s look at three key tips to achieve this.

Tips for Conducting an Effective Supplier Quality Audit

The products and services offered by suppliers directly influence the quality and reputation of the contracting organization. Therefore, it is important to maintain an agenda of audits to suppliers, always focused on continuous process improvement and risk reduction. To do this, it is important to follow the following recommendations:

1) Plan the Supplier Audit

The planning of the quality audit to suppliers is essential, because thanks to it we can understand the dimension of the task we are going to undertake and the obstacles we will encounter along the way. Audit planning considers the following steps:

  • Selection of suppliers to be audited: it is not always possible to evaluate each and every one of the organizations with which we have outsourced. Therefore, it is necessary to make a prior selection, taking into account the volume, but also the relevance of the chosen suppliers.
  • Schedule audit: schedules, dates, activities.
  • Create checklists: according to the requirements demanded by the Quality Management System, based on the ISO 9001:2015 standard.
  • Review past issues: The audit should consider nonconformities and findings reported in past audits.

2) During the Performance of the Quality Audit to Suppliers

In practice, conducting the audit requires observing some basic procedures:

  • Review the previous observations and the effectiveness of the corrective actions that have been implemented.
  • Focus on procedures rather than documentation.
  • Use mobile tools to streamline audits, when the audited organization has multiple locations.

3) After the Supplier Audit

Many organizations make a mistake of conducting audits of suppliers, internal or certification, and then filing the reports because they think they have already met the requirement demanded by some standard.

The actual work in any audit begins when the fieldwork has been completed. It is then that we must analyze the findings, review the non-conformities, but, above all, design and implement corrective actions that focus on the principle of continuous improvement.

Thus, reports and corrective actions become the two key tools offered by a quality audit to suppliers, to ensure compliance with the quality requirements raised in the Quality Management Systems.

IPQCCO offers a tailor-made service to evaluate suppliers and outsourced services in our customers’ supply chain. Depending on the client’s needs, our auditors can evaluate suppliers using the client’s own standards and methodologies or globally recognized standards (ISO 9000) or develop a specific evaluation scheme for each client.