When it comes to managing a global supply chain, things can get complicated – fast. Managing supplier information, which can be inconsistent, or non-existent, is a cumbersome and challenging task. There are steps companies can take to ease the challenges.
Best Practices When It Comes to Global Suppliers
1 - Know Your Suppliers
Make sure you get to know your suppliers and visit them in person when you can. You can never get a full view of your suppliers until you set foot in their facility. Depending on your internal risk assessment, you can determine which suppliers need more frequent visits, and which suppliers do not.
2 - Set Minimum Standards
Today is now an age when merely handing over quality responsibilities to the procurement group is over. Quality must be an active part of the global sourcing team. So when procurement goes out to finalize deals, QA needs to go as well to make sure the supplier will meet your company’s quality standards.
3 - Take Certifications at Face Value
When it comes to higher-risk countries, take certifications at face value. While you can trust your suppliers, you will want to verify all certifications before coming to any conclusions. TraceGains customers have shared stories of visiting suppliers who are quick to brandish their BRCGS certificate but cannot pass a simple GMP audit. Trust, but verify.
4 - Build Relationships
Encourage your sourcing group to foster relationships with suppliers you’ve identified as capable of manufacturing your items. Maintaining relationships can help prepare for sudden sourcing shifts or better prepare for rapid growth.
5 - Leverage Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)
Use GFSI as much as you can and try to have contracts and import protocol agreements in place. If you sign on another supplier facility, aside from other contracts, give them an import agreement that must also be signed. This agreement not only documents essential information, but it also informs the suppliers of the steps in place to verify that products are compliant and meet requirements.
Best Practices When It Comes to Specific Global Products
6 - Have Product Specifications
Encourage teams to have comprehensive product specifications. You must leverage your specifications because if you don’t have them in place, chances are you will get an industrial specification available to any other company. And if that’s the case, how will you then differentiate your product from your competitors?
7 - Conduct Product Audits
Make sure to conduct product audits and always take a look at production records. Occasionally engage the services of third-party auditors to drop into facilities unannounced and conduct product audits. Third-party auditors can also perform pre-shipment inspections, and report all results to your company.
8 - Ensure Label Compliance
In some cases, it’s unacceptable to use U.S. labels in other countries (Asia, for example, prohibits U.S. labels), so there are times when you must contract with local labeling companies. In these situations, it’s crucial to determine who will be looking at those labels, and who will make sure those labels are compliant. Ask questions and regularly have suppliers send you the labels to keep in your records and ensure they meet your compliance regulations.
Prioritizing risk at both the material and supplier levels is essential for effective supply chain and safety management. However, barriers still exist that hamper accurate and complete risk assessment—namely, risk intelligence, personnel, and technology.
9 - General QA Best Practices
Always watch for the usual suspects - the same things that all QA is careful to note. These are factors like ethical sourcing, underage/slave labor, environmental impacts, and sustainability.
Find out how TraceGains can help your company mitigate risk in our eBook, “Managing Risk in the Global Supply Chain.” Download it here.