Vendor Audit Checklist

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Businesses need to select vendors that can supply them with steady streams of the materials they need to manufacture goods or meet customer demands. While vendors control their own processes and distribution, they also work with the businesses they supply to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship. If your business uses regular vendors you may be able to take more control of their quality and methods by performing regular audits.

Quality Control Policy

One of the first and most important things you can include in a vendor audit is an overview of the vendor's quality control systems. A low rate of defects and problems that slow down production mean you'll have access to high quality items without frequent or serious delays. Make sure vendors have written quality control policies that include provisions for identifying causes of quality control issues, low tolerances for defects and multiple points of quality assurance before products reach the shipping stage.

Training and Accountability

Regardless of how strong your vendor's quality control system is, it won't help your business receive better goods unless it has thorough implementation across the vendor's workforce. A training program to help new workers meet high quality control demands is essential, as is an employee handbook that makes quality standards and procedures clear. Accountability is an important part of promoting a commitment to quality for a vendor. If management takes responsibility for production issues, individual workers will be freer to take personal responsibility for their roles in the process. Seek out vendors with corporate ethics that promote consistency and integrity.

General Organization

Workplace organization is another element of a vendor audit checklist. You can investigate this issue with a simple visit to the vendor's workplace. A clean, well-organized workplace presents fewer safety hazards and indicates an organizational culture that values precision and attention to detail. From production facilities and common areas to offices and shipping departments, organization should improve your confidence in a vendor.

Supply Access

Vendors are often not the origin points for the materials they work with. Instead they too rely on suppliers to provide the raw materials they need to operate and pass on to your business. Your vendor's access to supplies is a critical part of any audit since it establishes whether your business stands to lose access to the vendor's products if the vendor loses access to a specific material or item. For example, if your company builds computers, one of your vendors is likely to be a microchip supplier. If that supplier has multiple sources of the silicon and rare earth metals it needs to create chips, you can rest assured that your access to chips will remain steady as long as your vendor continues its current production levels.

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