Ten Process Audits do’s and donts in supplier quality.

It has been already some months that I wanted to write about process audits. Everybody knows how powerful are the process audits in developing suppliers (internal or externals). But often people do not pay so much attention to the details, some of which, if they are wrongly considered can lead the audit to a complete fail.  Here are my recommendations on do’s and don’ts:
1.- The first one is obvious but many people do not consider: It is really needed a good Preparation. For the purpose, please request your supplier their Risk analysis (PFMEA), control plan and other important documents. It is important to know the basis from supplier on the level of quality.
2.- There must be an intention. There must be an audit plan in your company with the audits based on the priorities.  Why we want to audit a supplier? is it a new project? is it to evaluate some potential businesses? Is it because of quality or capacity issues faced in your factory? or finally is it for developing your supplier technically or in standards?
3.- Potential analysis do or don’t. For those who know it, it is an initial visit questionnaire specially developed from VDA in automotive industry though other industries have similar format. Though theory would say it is only needed to be done for a new project, Do it if you have concerns o questions about the supplier technology, methodology or process. Don’t wait nomination of supplier to do it. Do it as a supplier selection tool input.
4.- Don’t go alone to visit suppliers. Take your purchaser or a second expert auditor. Remember four eyes see more than two. Furthermore, auditing is an art and therefore interacting with other artists helps one to improve his/her technique. Not to mention it makes the visit  faster.
5.- Don’t believe the first impression. How many times we have entered a factory and immediately have the perception of a A,B or C supplier. Do the full questionnaire and trust the results.
6.- Do not use audit to only check papers. Do use your technical knowledge to develop a supplier, Tour target is develop suppliers. Be proactive, help them to improve their company. If you stop in a line and know technical improvements, industrial tricks from your experience. Your supplier will appreciate it and will come back to you in better product quality.
7.- Do give the results (A/B/C and value) in an open debate with your appreciations (which you have already mentioned during your visit) but don’t go into detailed questionnaire. You are the auditor, you are supposed to be respected and not questioned your criteria by supplier.
8.- Auditing is not only criticizing. Please Do give your positive feedback about strengths, not only about weaknesses. And after all education is required. Think about that the final meeting is probably after two whole days of visit. People are tired,your visit has altered their quotidianity and they become more increasingly irascible. Your target is make long-term relations with suppliers, never forget that.
9.- Do followup after your visit. Do not forget that your intention is altruist to develop a supplier, further support and specific visits might be needed.
The last, the 10th Do is follow your purchasing strategy, focus on purchasing volumes, commodity strategy, etc.. Do not spend time in supplier that do not give added value to your company. I always say that if your company obtain the best prices to the highest standards innovative technologies would be leading the market. And we are there to support it, aren’t we?

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