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Sophia Finn


Are Your Supplier Quality Management Practices Putting Your Company at Risk?

It doesn’t have to be this way

Published: Thursday, March 26, 2020 - 12:02

Effective and efficient supplier management is possible, but not when we’re still using old tools and expecting different outcomes.

Emailing suppliers to communicate product specs, corrective action requests, or audit reports may be “the way it’s always been done,” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t inefficient and risky. The email black hole is a real thing, and busy quality professionals cannot be expected to remember every supplier correspondence and response. Excel spreadsheets are a favorite for many of us, but how can you ensure data accuracy and accessibility when spreadsheets are stored on someone’s computer or on a shared drive?

When you think about it, using yesterday’s tools to manage suppliers infuses uncertainty, inefficiency, and a lack of traceability and transparency at every step. “The way it’s always been done” introduces a level of risk entirely unnecessary, given the availability of modern, cloud-based supplier quality management solutions.

The true cost of using last century’s tools for supplier management

Today, regulatory requirements around supplier management have become more demanding, and traceability and transparency across the supply chain are increasingly important. That’s on top of the fact that poor supplier quality management practices can lead to painful audits, warning letters, product recalls, and lost revenue.

For example, you likely remember the tens of million vehicles from 11 auto manufacturers that had to be recalled due to faulty Takata airbags in 2017, and then a separate recall in late 2019. Although Takata faced significant costs for this quality failure, the auto manufacturers’ brand reputations were hit hard as their customers were put at risk and had to return recalled vehicles at great personal disruption.

Unfortunately, insufficient supplier transparency and oversight isn’t isolated to certain industries or companies. And using outdated, siloed tools to manage supplier relationships is a major contributor.

In the recently released 2020 Trends in Quality Management study, Hanover Research found that 65 percent of quality departments in regulated industries like consumer goods, cosmetics, and chemicals, are still managing suppliers with outdated tools such as email, spreadsheets, and dated point solutions.

Relying on outdated supplier collaboration and communication tools introduces inefficiencies and adds risk throughout companies’ supply chains. This increases the overall cost of quality, which 45 percent of respondents in the 2020 Trends survey estimated to be more than $10 million per year at their organizations.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s time to act: Overcome risky supplier management practices

Quality is powerful, and when well managed with the right tools, it is a strategic advantage.

Attend the upcoming Quality Digest webinar to learn three strategies you can use to reduce risk when managing your suppliers, including:

1. Determine the risk profile of your critical suppliers to allocate energy, resources, and time efficiently.
2. Communicate your expectations upfront with your supplier and reinforce them throughout the process.
3. Use modern technology to collaborate directly with your suppliers.

Hope to see you there!

Don’t miss this valuable content: Register today for the March 31, 2020, webinar.


About The Author

Sophia Finn’s picture

Sophia Finn

Sophia Finn spent the early part of her career literally in the trenches, working for United States Air Force Reserve followed by seven years in various regulatory affairs roles at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In 2013, Finn experienced her first FDA inspection from the perspective of private industry and, through that eye-opening experience, learned the full business impact of noncompliance.

As director of Vault QualityOne strategy, and certified ASQ-certified quality auditor, Finn uses her extensive experience with 21CFR 820, 21 CFR 803, ISO13485, ISO17025, post-market surveillance, and CAPA, auditing, compliant process, and MDRs to help customers build robust quality processes into their systems early and share these widely across the entire enterprise.