Steps to Improve Supplier Quality
To uphold the strongest business model possible, companies can implement the Japanese idea of Kaizen, or, the principle of continuous improvement across all areas of a company. But businesses often choose to focus resources on certain areas. In turn, some areas of the business model may be inadvertently neglected.
For instance, have you recently examined whether your company is working on improving supplier quality?
You might find yourself asking, “Why should my company even consider improving supplier quality?” The answer simple: your starting materials directly affect the quality of your finished products. You might have already invested a huge portion of your resources in, say, your Research and Development (R&D) team, but that effort is useless if you cannot maintain the standards the team sets. To maintain these standards, you need to ensure that the suppliers you use are of the quality your R&D team expects.
If the quality of raw materials differs, the quality of finished products will differ as well. The easiest way to ensure that the quality of your raw materials is consistent is to improve the quality of the materials you use. Here are a few simple steps you can follow:
- Review the set product requirements. Did you set clear and specific expectations? You have to treat your suppliers as partners, despite technicalities in the nature of your working relationship. Share with them the brand promise you make to your customers and describe what you need to uphold the quality level expected of your company. Always aim to achieve understanding of expectations between your company and your suppliers.
- Identify the metrics needed to evaluate supplier quality. These metrics should be realistic, relevant, and easy for your auditing team to measure. Consider the size of your company, the resources you can pour into internal auditing, and the urgency of your data. Because of these limits, time and financial circumstances might not allow for very specified metrics. In today’s rapidly changing business environment, new innovations gain power in industries as soon as potential and commercial worth is perceived. This may eradicate metrics that were previously important. Consider the current equipment in place, including software and other tools that allow you to measure the quality of supplies and services from your chosen suppliers. This is important technology to maintain and invest in, especially IT and communications infrastructures for storing and sharing data. If you do not have the necessary technology, measuring quality may require manual data collection. In this case, set metrics that can measure important information management needs to run the business. Consider the size of your team while setting metrics. One alternative would be to adjust the size of your team according to the time and work that this process will require.
- Implement supplier audit scorecards and assess findings. Improved scorecards should be put into action as soon as possible to gain an accurate and timely picture of circumstances. The information gained from these scorecards becomes the basis for analysis, which in turn will shape company decisions.
This list is merely a guideline; you can easily adapt it for your company’s regular quality practices and business needs.
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