Quality Progress - March 2013 - 8
cations and purchase order requirements).
pliers also may deny access to documents
You can expect suppliers to be unwill-
that they believe contain their intellectual
lead auditors not allowed to request from a
ing to provide sensitive information prior
property, trade secrets or key competitive
supplier during a supplier audit?
to engaging in an official contract, or in
Q: What information and documents are
some cases, even after signing the contract.
Questions that may go unanswered include:
of your purpose, you may wish to use a
Who are your top customers? What per-
supplier pre-audit survey or questionnaire,
A: While there is no rule or requirement
centage of revenue is attributed to these
rather than asking during the audit, especially
that prevents an auditor from requesting
top customers? What is your gross margin?
if you have concerns that your supplier will
certain information from a supplier, it is
What is your net profit?
challenge the relevance. There are details
not part of auditing protocol to ask ques-
You may be able to research some of
For information that falls within the scope
you as a customer would genuinely want to
tions that are irrelevant to the purpose
these answers for publicly listed compa-
know, such as the supplier’s strategic long-
and scope of the audit, and the purchasing
nies. Privately held companies may not be
term plan for three to five years, a technol-
requirements1 (such as contracts, specifi-
inclined to disclose such information. Sup-
ogy roadmap, key suppliers, total inventory
of raw materials and overall financial health.
Questions to ask during an audit
/ TAble 1
This information is required to assess potential collaboration, and opportunities and risks
to business continuity. The supplier might
do you want from
Is this within the scope of
your contract/service level
agreements with your supplier?
What you should not ask:
to share; however, with your management’s
support, you should be able to negotiate ac-
If none exists, is this within
the scope of the business you
conduct with your supplier?
expected closing revenue, profits
for the quarter.
Your competitor’s information,
such as orders placed and
Is it legal to provide and receive
this information in the countries
where your business and the
supplier’s business are located?
perceive this information to be too sensitive
cess to the facts you need.
Detailed audit planning—coupled with
pre-audit meetings with suppliers—should
Supplier staff personal information.
surface any controversial areas ahead of
time. For example, consider a supplier audit
in which your main focus is to cover a pro-
If no legal issues exist, are there
any potential ethical issues in
asking for this information?
Is the information tradesensitive or proprietary?
Process recipe or trade secrets.
Does the information provide
verification of conformance?
Why you should not ask:
Will it help assess future risks or
opportunities in the business?
Why do you need
Supplier internal systems access
information, such as log in and
diting process recipe controls, but the sup-
Collect “just in case.”
plier may not want to show them to you. You
no specific reason.
will have to decide if this is a deal breaker.
Will it provide evidence for
writing non conformances?
cess that happens to be proprietary. There
will be no point in visiting the supplier
until you have worked out all of the details
around the extent of your access.
For instance, you may be interested in au-
Instead of arm-twisting the supplier to show
Will you include it in audit
How you should not use
the recipe, would you be willing to audit
Will it enhance business/
technical collaboration with
To negotiate with another supplier.
corresponding controls to make an educated
To benchmark for competitive
advantage (without supplier’s
knowledge or permission).
assessment of the supplier’s overall docu-
To renegotiate with the supplier
in an attempt to cut costs.
How do you
intend to use the
that you see the controls exercised in their
QP • www.qualityprogress.com
several other non-sensitive documents and
ment and records control? Or is it essential
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - March 2013
Mr. Pareto Head
The Right Ingredients
Before the Fact
Apples to Oranges?
Five at the Forefront
Measure for Measure
Quality in the First Person
One Good Idea
Quality Progress - March 2013