To remain competitive, companies rely on the professionalism of many service providers. A good relationship with your suppliers is essential to obtain the quality you are looking for in your products. The selection and follow-up of suppliers requires a great management capacity as a QHSE. So how do we do it? What do we have to pay attention to?
How do I select a supplier?
Step 1: Drawing up a statement of work
The first step is to clarify your requirements with regard to the products/services concerned and to formalise specification note accordingly. You must be able to highlight the expected level of quality through this first analysis.
It is essential that the purchasing department is integrated into the process throughout the whole evaluation process.
Do not neglect this step! Your needs/expectations must be clearly defined. This primarily concerns the product, of course, but also the entire process (packaging, invoicing, communication, etc...).
Step 2: Carry out a first sorting of the different suppliers
An initial sorting is carried out on the basis of the specifications established previously. Simple criterias are first taken into account: size of the company, financial and legal status, production capacity, geographical location, customer portfolio, etc...
Step 3: Conducting the final evaluation
At this stage it is a question of evaluating more precisely the capacity of each service provider to meet the requirements concerning your product/service. To do this, you will study various more complex criteria such as: the types of certifications possessed, logistical capacities, regulatory watch mode, reputation in the sector, etc...
The QHSE criteria of the suppliers are also to be taken into account. It is a question of identifying everything that could be problematic during a first order and thus ensure that there are no unpleasant surprises. To carry out this second analysis, use general ISO 9001 standards for example.
If your products are more specific, do not hesitate to use more demanding criteria in connection with the specified activity. To finalize your choices, a process audit completed with a sample taking will allow you to see more clearly. If you encounter issues when carrying out the audit, do not hesitate to implement stricter incoming controls.
The level of requirement is different for each supplier: too high requirements can lead to tensions with the supplier company, while too low requirements can lead to order defaults.
Also, if for the same type of product/service the supplier in question has several customers, it will be difficult to ask them to provide us with a different quality. On the other hand, you will have more leverage to enforce your requirements with a supplier of which you will be the "only" customer.
How to supervise your suppliers?
Your suppliers are then monitored using various tools such as dashboards of indicators or process audits. Of course, it is not a question of following ALL your suppliers: follow as a priority those who are "critical", i.e. those who will have a strong impact on the quality of the product.
Different criteria are checked during this follow-up: product/service quality, respect of quantities and deadlines, reactivity in case of complaints, returns management, innovation capacity...
When it comes to monitoring indicators, there are no standard indicators for monitoring your suppliers. You can however associate a rating to your previously established criteria, and you will thus obtain an overall quality index (e.g. a product quality rating, a reactivity rating, a packaging quality rating, etc.).
The audit carried out makes it possible to check the way the supplier works. It may be advisable to use an ISO standard to carry out this verification. The aim is to follow the production process from the delivery of the raw materials to the final delivery of the product. Don't forget to also check your suppliers' ability to initiate an improvement process!
Using digital to ensure effective supervision
To help you in your supplier evaluation process, you can rely on dedicated digital tools. These tools offer digital forms to carry out checks upon receipt and notify supplier non-conformities if necessary.
You can create dedicated access to the solution for all your suppliers. They can be notified in real time of non-compliance via an automatic alert generated in the tool.
The directory of all your suppliers is accessible on the digital platform: a time saver when you want to contact a particular supplier! It also allows you to have a summary list of your suppliers, and to have a direct view on the different data related to them (compliance rate with respect to the different indicators, date on which the next process audit should be performed, etc). An essential support in the digital age to organize your supplier evaluation.
To conclude, it is important during a supplier evaluation not to be satisfied with simple figures / statistics to drive the process. It is essential to establish a personalised relationship with each of your service providers by meeting them on a regular basis.