Supplier Evaluation. Supplier Rating
Supplier Evaluation.The approach to evaluation will need to be pre-defined. Will all suppliers be evaluated or just suppliers with a risk rating above a certain level? Supplier evaluation normally follows some or all of the following steps:
– Supplier identification.
– Capability review.
– Supplier self assessment.
– Supplier audit followed up with relevant CAPA implementation.
– Supplier education.
– Prototype / sample review.
– Approval – Full or Limited
Supplier identification is the first stage. For some products or services the choice of supplier may be quite wide, in other instances, especially for unique technologies, or limited resources, the choice may be limited. At this stage, a key consideration is the strategic vision for suppliers outlined by the business. Is local sourcing valued? Is there a vision of expanding into particular markets? Is a long term relationship a key pre-requisite? Equally, the vision and longer term ambitions of potential suppliers should be considered. Is a supplier with a strong innovation track-record preferable to a supplier who has demonstrated consistent cost leadership?
The capability of the supplier to provide current and forecast future demand needs to be assessed. Has the supplier a history in providing the required products and services? Will the supplier be technically challenged to provide requirements, or alternatively will the supplier be a source of expertise which the business may be able to access?
Normal practice is that the supplier will be asked to complete a self assessment. This will enquire about current quality and regulatory compliance, staff levels, organizational structure, brief organizational history, technical capabilities, available capacity, brief financial summary, department resources e.g. quality assurance, production, development, etc.. The self assessment will provide a good indication of where the supplier resides versus expectations. In the case of low risk suppliers, the self assessment may be sufficient to permit the supplier to progress to providing samples or onto full approval. For more critical suppliers, the next step is normally a supplier audit.
The supplier audit(s) will allow a detailed review of the compliance of the supplier to expectations across quality system, technical capability, financial stability requirements. The basis for the audit will already have been established via the supplier self assessment. The audit will confirm the details and accuracy of the self assessment, which in turn will provide an insight into the ability of a potential supplier to provide an accurate picture of their true capabilities and status. The audit will also permit detailed review of specific areas of interest, which the audit team may have pre-determined as being important.
The audit may identify deficiencies which will result in the issue of corrective and preventative actions (CAPA’s). The criticality of any CAPA’s issued, will determine the ability of a supplier to progress the evaluation and approval process.
Supplier education now becomes important as the supplier will be starting to provide product samples or prototypes, etc., therefore, it is good practice to invest time and resources in helping a new supplier understand expectations, understand how the various ordering, delivery, payment processes will function. The processes which will be used to provide feedback on supplier performance need to be communicated and any supplier concerns or requests need to be considered and acted-upon if appropriate.
The supplier will now provide samples of products or may complete some limited service offering, e.g. a supplier providing a cleaning service for clean-room garments, may be asked to provide a limited number of examples of their service which can be inspected and tested to ensure standards are achieved. Prototypes of samples will need to represent the expected level of products or services to be provided. It is therefore a good approach to define a qualification or validation test plan, with defined sample sizes, defined test and acceptance criteria.
Finally the supplier will progress onto full or limited approval. The results of the previous stages will be reviewed and will determine the approval status. Limited approval may be granted where some CAPA’s have been raised and a re-audit to confirm effective implementation is yet to be performed. Limited approval may have been granted due to variation in the prototypes or samples received. The samples may all have been within required specification but variation analysis may have identified the potential for future failure, therefore, the supplier will be requested to tighten process variability, etc..
Supplier rating.When a supplier completes the “evaluation” steps and becomes a fully approved supplier, then on-going monitoring and rating will be implemented. The rating may make comparisons between various suppliers who are concurrently providing similar products or services, or may be focused on measuring changes in individual supplier performance over time, versus expected performance demands.
Supplier rating may be in the form of some of the following: the number of pass/fails received, the number of defects within each unit on average received, the number of defects per million for high volume suppliers. The rating system selected should provide a clear picture of supplier performance and be able to offer a trend over time, for example, month by month trends in performance.
The first step in developing a supplier rating process is to identify the key performance characteristics in the product or service provided. The key performance characteristics may relate to product quality, meeting delivery requirements, reliability expectations, cost.
Once the key performance characteristics are known then methods of measurement need to be identified and implemented. The measurement methods must themselves be reliable and consistent. There should be no room for unknown variation otherwise the rating system may itself by questioned and will lose value in the eyes of the supplier.
Finally, the supplier performance reports need to be published on a regular basis. Ideally, feedback should be relatively prompt, therefore depending on the products or services being performed, feedback may be provided weekly, monthly, quarterly. In the interval between performance report issue, individual instances of performance failure should be relayed back to the supplier, so that immediate action can be taken to understand and address.
Quality Assurance. Quality Management.
- The Principles of Quality Management
- Quality Standards and Specifications
- The Quality Management System
- Design Quality – Products & Processes
- Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)
- CAPA – Corrective And Preventative Action
- Calibration Certification
- Change Management and Control
- Product and Process Validation
- Supplier Quality Assurance
- Audits & Auditing
- Etc. …. Etc. …. Etc. …