Four Steps to Build a Quality Network Through Improved Supplier Management

By Joby George, November, 2017

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Four Steps to Build a Quality Network Through Improved Supplier Management

Linking suppliers increases visibility, efficiency, and safety
Originally published on QulaityDigest.com in July 2016
Driven by market expansion, financial pressures, and the need to accelerate innovation, today’s manufacturers have expanded their global operations and supply partners. This evolution has only amplified the manufacturer and supply-chain relationship, which is often characterized by a delicate balance between cooperation and adversarial negotiation.

In this new era, stakeholders are required to connect, interact, and integrate on previously unknown and unexpected levels. As such, manufacturers, suppliers, and contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) are seeking new and direct ways to collaborate efficiently and effectively in their handling of quality events in order to achieve the financial benefits that can be measured in hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual savings from operational efficiencies—not to mention millions of dollars from avoiding commercial recalls.
Effective supplier management is a critical component of a company’s overall approach to quality management. Leading companies have employed four key steps to implementing a supplier quality management program that takes the complexity out of managing supplier quality, and allows them to put a program in place that has sustainable business benefits.
 


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1. Establish a supplier foundation
Create a single repository of all the suppliers you work with, the supplier sites where your ingredients or materials are sourced from, and the class of ingredient or material those suppliers provide. Use this repository to leverage your newfound knowledge of who your suppliers are and to put an effective audit program in place. With a workflow-based tool, ensure that your audit programs and any follow-ups are being executed in a timely manner, and if they aren’t, that all parties involved are notified.

2. Put an effective supplier onboarding capability in place
When onboarding multiple suppliers at the same time, initial top-level questionnaires and risk assessments can help ensure that you meet regulations for supplier and materials onboarding. No matter the reason, being able to quickly onboard new suppliers creates significant impact on your company’s ability to contain cost and grow revenue.

3. Close the quality loop with suppliers
While enterprise quality management systems (EQMS) have proven extremely effective for manufacturers, the benefits often are contained within the company’s four walls. That’s because the relationships are outsourced, yet the EQMS usually are not. Each partner in the supply chain network can have its own method of managing quality events, from paper processes to sophisticated EQMS. Leading companies are leveraging cloud technology to connect and integrate their suppliers into their quality management processes.

4. Implement real-time performance management
You now have all the information required to put a true supplier performance management system in place, including the key performance indicators. A supplier performance management system allows you to focus on which of your suppliers or internal manufacturing sites are having the most trouble meeting your quality goals. This drives continuous supplier-quality improvement, grows operational productivity, reduces costs, and increases the performance of new product introductions.

The benefits of linking suppliers into a connected quality management ecosystem are clear:

  • Increased visibility: instant awareness of quality issues from upstream and downstream partners
  • Enhanced accountability: makes each partner accountable for its role in the supply chain
  • Operational efficiency: All-electronic systems make it easy to track and trend quality issues, which are reported in real time.
  • Product safety and compliance: A healthy quality supply chain enables the production of safe products.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joby George
Joby George is a product manager at Sparta Systems, developer of quality management software solutions. George has been with Sparta for more than 11 years with experience in the support, services, and pre-sales organizations. He has lead the effort on various TrackWise solutions, such as the Electronic Regulatory Report and TrackWise Analytics. Currently his primary responsibility is leading and defining the product and development efforts for  Stratas SaaS-based solutions. George has bachelor of science degrees in computer science and economics from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
 

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