Archive for the ‘Subcontractors’ Category

Having gone to all that trouble to set up your Approved S&S system I know a lot of you then struggle trying to agree what course of action you should take to bring them into line should they fail to perform.  After all, you don’t really want the hassle of sourcing an alternative – assuming there is one of course!

Understandably, you are not in a position to storm in and lay the law down for a company that you have no jurisdiction over.  You wouldn’t like it if a customer did it to you I’m sure.  However, this is where you start to work the magic of a 9001 QMS.

Are the basics in place?

By this I mean the list with suitable criteria for inclusion; a clear indication of who you will monitor for performance; what you will check; what metrics you will set and how you will control this part of the 9001 QMS.  If you need to refresh these aspects then I suggest you click this link and go look at the training videos “9001 – The Collection”.  A sample is included below if you are new to them:


Also remember that you need to be operating a robust Non-Conformance System so you have the right facts on which to base your case.

How to get them to read the performance metrics

First off make sure you are producing regular performance data which usually means once a month, although this can be flexed either way dependent on throughput.  In addition to sending out an individual report of OTD, Quality and say Concessions why not appeal to the supplier’s ego and list them in a league table against the other suppliers.

Combine all three ratings into one index and place the suppliers from top to bottom, but shade out all names bar the one you are compiling the report for as that way you don’t create any undo hassle between companies.  I know a lot of suppliers who don’t react when they see just their own performance report, but change totally when they see how they compare with their rivals.

Choose your Weapons

Now to the sharp end.  Here are five courses of action I have used or seen used in the past so adapt them for your own business:

  • If you see a poor performance over three consecutive reports against your required targets then raise a CAR on them as clearly their system (or the people running it more like) aren’t responding to your reports which are effectively ‘complaints’.  Simply follow the same process as you would for internal CARs.
  • If stock happens to be tested as part of your subsequent order processing but fails, even though the supplier certifies on a similar test that it has passed, then get agreement for a third-party to retest it as part of your Goods Inwards procedure.  Do this for an agreed period of time or number of receipts before putting them into stock and charge the supplier for the costs incurred. I accept that this smacks of ‘manufacturing’ and ‘engineering’, but try an adapt it for your business.
  • Instead of dealing with random deliveries and quality at Goods Inwards insist on a pre-delivery inspection at their works by one of your staff or a nominated agent on repeated offenders so that you can filter out the rejections before they arrive.   Clearly this impacts on resources and cost, but if it puts the performance back on track? Why not get them to bear some of the costs.
  • On the basis that you know others that are buying from this supplier, why not form a collective to tackle the issues on the basis that a group carries more weight than an individual.  You have to approach this one carefully dependent on your relationship with the other companies but it is worth considering.
  • Finally, in this age of social media, have you checked if the supplier is on Twitter or Facebook? Forward thinking companies do this so they can hear what the customer has to say.  I think you might have something to add there don’t you?  Do not underestimate the power of social proof – or in this instance the lack of it.  Having customers give negative comments on these platforms is not good, so is likely to solicit a reaction.  Be careful though in what and how you say things, we don’t want lawyers involved now do we!

One parting shot

Ok I know some people will say that all this is unfeasible when the issue is with a sole supplier and you can’t do without them etc etc.  I appreciate you have to be careful on the commercial front but, surely, isn’t it even more imperative that you find a working solution in that case?  Views on that one welcomed in the comments box below.

Remember the basics of 9001 like this are covered in my free training videos. The full range of service from me are on my website.