Assessing suppliers for your quality management system

Aug. 15, 2023

Tags: quality system supplier assessment

Suppliers have a big effect on your own quality performance so it is important to have controls in place, and a process to assess supplier performance.


Assessing new suppliers is a critical step in ensuring the quality of the products or services your business relies on. It's also important to have a supplier management process in place to monitor supplier performance and ensure they continue to meet your expectations. Failure to do so can result in poor quality products or services, missed deadlines, and damage to your reputation.

You'll need to define the requirements that are relevant for your organisation, but here are some example questions for assessing new suppliers:

  1. Do you have any certifications or accreditations?
  2. What records do you keep for your quality control process?
  3. How do you handle issues or complaints?
  4. Do you have a documented quality plan for our products/service?
  5. Can you provide references from previous customers?

These questions can help you evaluate a supplier's ability to meet your quality standards and ensure they have the necessary controls in place to maintain their quality.

When you're bringing on a new supplier, it's important to be clear about your expectations around quality standards, delivery schedules, and pricing.

Once you're working with the supplier, it's best to promptly communicate any issues or concerns. Their response to your concerns will be an important measure for the ongoing relationship. Good communication and consistently holding your supplier to the agreed standards can encourage them to prevent any quality issues from reaching you.

Supplier assessment is not just for new suppliers. Consider establishing a regular review process for all your major suppliers to assess their performance and identify areas for improvement.

To review supplier performance you'll need to keep records.

In Quality Systems Toolbox software, you can maintain a list of your approved suppliers in the Contacts module and set reminders for evaluating Supplier performance and for tracking other requirements (e.g., insurance, certifications, etc). Upload associated files, or define a Supplier Evaluation form in the Forms module. Keep all these supplier records together with the supplier details.

If a problem arises, you'll add a 'Supplier Issue' in the Issues module to record what happened and what was done to fix it. Add tasks to remember what needs to be done, and never forget to claim a supplier credit again. With the data in Toolbox, you'll have the information you need to review supplier performance.

In summary, assessing suppliers (both new and existing) is an important process for ensuring the quality of the products and services your business relies on to deliver to your customers. By asking the right questions and establishing clear expectations, you can select a supplier that meets your needs. Regular monitoring and good communication help to maintain good supplier relationships, which will be beneficial for your business.

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