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Inactive key supplier question - We are not actively buying from them

Ed Panek

VP QA RA Small Med Dev Company
We have a key supplier we overbought from. We are due to audit them annually but we cant audit them if they aren't running our product (there is no $$ incentive for them to allow us to audit as our relationship is immature). QA wants to list them as inactive since we are not actively buying from them and it would relieve us from audit requirements until we order again. Senior management thinks this looks bad to a potential partner if a key supplier is inactive in our QMS.



Quite Involved in Discussions
I wouldn't mark them inactive. Can you just send them a self audit form for right now with the standard questions about their QMS and also let them know that once a new PO is issued production audits are continued? I would make sure I'd word it in your own process/instruction also.


Starting to get Involved
Is there some red tape reason you can't make a risk-based decision here to postpone without having to change "active"/"inactive" labels?

Also note that there may be more to auditing than just the product itself. Check for any other obligations that need to be maintained (e.g., even if they're not supplying product to you, as a key supplier they may still be required to notify your company of various changes and events, or to provide services and documentation, etc.).

Perhaps (depending on the real risks and stakes in the situation) you could scope out a cut-down or even remote audit just covering the relevant activities for the next period of time, and schedule the product-related half for a bit before you next expect to place an order. This demonstrates your continuing commitment to maintaining them as a key supplier whilst postponing the burden of auditing product-related processes. Keep QA happy with minimised audit requirements whilst maintaining the relationship from a management relationship perspective.
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