A blueprint for a winning SQM approach
Many companies do not vet suppliers as thoroughly as they vet their own employees, but their suppliers can have just as great of an impact on their product and business as employees do. Whether you have just a handful of suppliers or thousands, monitoring their quality with proven metrics will improve your business. Here are five tips for a winning SQM approach.
1. Important metrics and proven techniques
Responsiveness, lead time, and defect rate are all important metrics to track when assessing your supplier quality. Set specific standards, then track your suppliers and ensure that they comply with those targets using a couple of proven industry techniques.
Two tried-and-tested industry standards you can use to effectively ensure excellence in your suppliers are Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) and Production Part Approval Process (PPAP). APQP advocates for manufacturers and suppliers to partner on development, production and product launch. PPAP is a process by which suppliers document that they can manufacture on time and according to specifications.
2. Skip-lotting and feedback systems
Since most companies do not have the resources to test every part prior to use, some rely on skip-lot receiving, a system in which a trusted supplier’s parts are not inspected. You simply cannot ensure that suppliers are consistently producing high-quality parts without tracking their metrics, hence the importance of feedback systems.
As with any partnership, accurate feedback and excellent communication are necessary to track metrics and thrive. Enterprise Quality Management Software (EQMS) provides the data hub you and your suppliers need. With EQMS in place, both partners stand to make their businesses more efficient and profitable during and after onboarding.
3. Partnerships to foster higher quality
It is crucial to build each new supplier partnership on a strong foundation with an onboarding process. In order to create a supplier partnership, both you and your suppliers need to commit to excellence. Make your expectations clear and your feedback prompt and constructive.
A solid relationship with a good supplier can make all the difference in product quality. The 80/20 rule is often applicable to suppliers – about 20 percent of your suppliers will provide 80 percent of your products. The use of Supplier Quality Management (SQM) and EQMS makes it easier to identify which suppliers fall into this crucial group, and will help guide your crisis mitigation during unusual events like recalls. Even in settings where consumer product quality is not as crucial as products in the defense, automotive and medical sectors, companies want to avoid bad feedback or word of mouth. Solid SQM can make a difference in maintaining reputation.
4. Maintain relationships even after the deal
The best partnerships with suppliers do not end with the completion of a successful deal, no matter how good the advantage. Open, continuous communication with suppliers is a good way to ensure that the relationship continues to thrive. Without clear communication, supplier quality suffers because they are not getting the feedback and direction they need. The right tools help form partnerships and keep business relationships strong.
SQM software enables you to maintain closer contact with suppliers in a simple fashion. IQS offers EQMS solutions that allow you to go the extra mile for your customers and maintain the contact that you need to develop a solid partnership with your best suppliers.
5. Keep your edge with the best in risk assessment
An integrated EQMS streamlines supplier risk assessment to prevent problems. Your company takes a proactive, rather than reactive, approach when things do not go as planned. These steps ultimately translate to happier customers.
Better SQM provides a distinct competitive advantage. There is a direct correlation between a company’s use of supplier quality best practices and its reputation among its customers.