This article provides a comprehensive guide to supplier management for businesses that have achieved compliance ISO 9001 quality management standard.

Supplier management is indispensably needed by businesses that have standardised their Quality Management System (QMS). ISO 9001 is the key standard for a QMS that is implemented by organisations in almost all business sectors. The sole purpose of achieving the ISO 9001 standard for a QMS is to provide top-quality products or services to the customers by reducing risks, operational inconsistencies, and avoiding costly failures in the production process. However, ensuring quality products or outputs consistently also requires a business to have fine quality inputs and raw materials. While it is realistically impossible to check all inputs, raw materials, or components while production, you need quality assurance from your suppliers.

No doubt, reliable suppliers ensure your business has quality supplies. However, you also need streamlined supplier management simultaneously to ensure the consistency in their performance and to make them compliant with ISO 9001 regulations. Here we have explained how you can achieve proper supplier management to maintain your compliance with a quality standard.

Steps for Achieving Successful Supplier Management for Quality Assurance

Select Your Suppliers Appropriately

The type of suppliers needed for your production depends solely on your industry, product type or services offerings. Therefore, to pick your suppliers, you need to first select the range of suppliers who can provide you with specific inputs. However, there is a simple hack to ensure that they are right and reliable ones, i.e., can supply quality materials. You need to enquire about a few things for every supplier before contracting to evaluate their compliance to quality management such as market experience, market reach, clients’ they have earlier supplied, location, and brand reputation. This makes sure you select the right suppliers.

Consistently Review and Audit the Suppliers

Though you have selected your suppliers ensuring they meet your business’s quality requirements, you don’t know you can rely on them consistently unless they continue to prove their compliance with the requirements and pass your audits. If you want consistency in the performance of your approved suppliers, you need to regularly review and audit their processes ensuring they can provide quality inputs. Auditing also help in identifying any issues and inconsistencies in the supplier processes and capabilities. Thus, your suppliers would be able to eliminate any inconsistency or prevent defective inputs after you have pointed out the issues.

Keep Track of Supplier Performance

Measuring the performance of your supplier from time to time is also an essential part of supplier management. It helps in improving the quality and reliability of your suppliers. As a measure for supplier performance, you need to determine certain metrics or KPIs (Key performance indicators). Those performance metrics act as some targets to the suppliers who have been providing materials for a long time. You can further create scorecards for each supplier based on their performance as well as audit outcomes. In short, evaluating supplier performance and providing them with scores or benchmarks would only help them to push their performance.

Informed Decision Making

The reports or data collected from the regular evaluation of supplier performance must be used for informed decision making any time in your business. It also makes your supplier onboarding process smoother and easier. When you have critical insights and metrics that show a supplier is not able to meet your requirements or have fluctuating performance, you can decide whether to continue procuring from it or provide ideas to improve performance and keep it on board.

Maintain Good Relationships with Suppliers

Maintaining healthy and friendly relationships with your suppliers is also a necessary part of supplier management. You can provide positive feedback to them assisting in how to enhance their capabilities or procedures. Also, it is necessary for your suppliers to approach you anytime to know your expectations or keep updated with any changing product requirements. Maintaining a healthy relationship with every supplier is therefore crucial for both to improve and grow.

Clearly, supplier management should be an inclusive approach in your business when you seek to adhere to standard quality regulations. It is needed especially if you have achieved ISO 9001 standard for your QMS. It becomes crucial for you to demonstrate your consistent compliance with the strict requirements specified by the standard. Therefore, you need streamlined supplier management to ensure the compliance of your input materials to quality requirements.

Author's Bio: 

Damon Anderson is the owner of a distinguished ISO certification consultancy in Australia that works to provide advisory to businesses of all types in their certification process. He is the lead consultant of the ISO 9001 standard and likes to write articles on having a Quality Management System for enterprises and its advantages and compliance requirements.

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