The Customer does not Audit to their own Supplier Quality Manual

M

MsHeeler

#1
We recently were audited by a customer, a large well known customer. During the audit I requested to know where the requirement was for an item to clarify what they expected to see. The answer was "we do not audit to the manual, we audit to the checklist".

The "requirements" on the checklist are not in the Supplier Quality Manual, and the opinions that were added are not there either. In addition, we have not received the audit report back from them, and it has been a month. Now they are concerned that we are not taking them seriously. :truce:

Any suggestions are welcome!
 
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Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#2
Re: The customer does not go by their own Supplier Quality Manual???

We recently were audited by a customer, a large well known customer. During the audit I requested to know where the requirement was for an item to clarify what they expected to see. The answer was "we do not audit to the manual, we audit to the checklist".

The "requirements" on the checklist are not in the Supplier Quality Manual, and the opinions that were added are not there either. In addition, we have not received the audit report back from them, and it has been a month. Now they are concerned that we are not taking them seriously. :truce:

Any suggestions are welcome!
Welcome to the real world! Some customers (or merely only their Supplier Quality Auditors [SQA]) are notorious for seeming to make up "rules" after the fact.

The way you and you bosses deal back with them depends a lot on how important this customer is.

One thing your organization "should" do is add an item to your Contract Review to check for this sort of thing BEFORE entering into new contracts with this customer or with any other.

The one thing you CAN do regardless of the importance of this customer, is to send a formal written notice to the customer's top purchasing agent, with copies to the SQA who visited your plant and his direct boss, simply stating the facts:

  1. We were audited on _____________
  2. The auditor was _______________
  3. The Supplier Quality Manual (SQM) states [implies? cite the exact language] we would receive a copy of the report __________________
  4. We have not yet received a report.
  5. Has one been sent and gone astray?
  6. If one has not been sent, may we know the reason for the delay?

Under no circumstances should this notice include any gripe about the disparity between SQM and actual audit - that's grist for another mill and would only cloud the issue. Keep focused - one topic per message!

The effect of this notice will be

  1. to alert all parties you are on top of the situation and have done all in your power - the ball is in their court.
  2. It may be the customer policy and normal usage to mistreat suppliers - this is a good time learn that.
  3. It may be some simple SNAFU at the customer - this is a good time for the customer to learn that.
  4. It may be the SQA is incompetent - it is past time for the customer to learn that!
 
M

MsHeeler

#3
Re: The customer does not go by their own Supplier Quality Manual???

When we requested the audit report they said that they could not upload it to their system for some reason, and sent a listings of items that were upgraded from a major to a minor. Also items that remained at at major. There were about 40 NCs in all.

What they sent us did not even make sense. They gave us a major for not having a procedure to audit suppliers. Then stated that we did not have a procedure to qualify auditors or do internal audits. That is not what they asked for, the interal audit procedure would have been easy.

Then we got a major because the auditor, with no manufacturing experience, could not build a complicated electronic part just by following the work instruction. We explained that we would never put an untrained person on a line to do a job. No effect, we should be able to pull anyone in off the street and give them the work instruction and turn them loose.

How to you give a customer a clue?
MsHeeler
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#4
Re: The customer does not go by their own Supplier Quality Manual???

When we requested the audit report they said that they could not upload it to their system for some reason, and sent a listings of items that were upgraded from a major to a minor. Also items that remained at at major. There were about 40 NCs in all.

What they sent us did not even make sense. They gave us a major for not having a procedure to audit suppliers. Then stated that we did not have a procedure to qualify auditors or do internal audits. That is not what they asked for, the interal audit procedure would have been easy.

Then we got a major because the auditor, with no manufacturing experience, could not build a complicated electronic part just by following the work instruction. We explained that we would never put an untrained person on a line to do a job. No effect, we should be able to pull anyone in off the street and give them the work instruction and turn them loose.

How to you give a customer a clue?
MsHeeler
Sounds like a sit-down is needed, in which you go over the findings one-by-one and voice your objections. You shouldn't be afraid to calmly object to things that make no sense. My own urge would be to ask how the customer would feel if they had just boarded a 747 and were informed before takeoff that the pilot had never flown an airplane before, but he had read the instructions for flying large commercial aircraft, so no one should be worried. I would resist that urge, however, in favor of sober and polite discussion.
 
M

MsHeeler

#5
Re: The customer does not go by their own Supplier Quality Manual???

I like your way, and I will have to put it in my book for items to think of during an audit to keep me calm, and maby work into the conversation if it comes up again.

We tried to discuss these items with the auditors and the coversation got heated and at some times loud. The problem is, there is no way to answer the items without knowing what they want, since it is not stated anywhere. :mad:

And now they are upset because we do not answer a non exsiting audit report. How does such a large company stay in business?

MsHeeler
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#6
Re: The customer does not go by their own Supplier Quality Manual???

I like your way, and I will have to put it in my book for items to think of during an audit to keep me calm, and maby work into the conversation if it comes up again.

We tried to discuss these items with the auditors and the coversation got heated and at some times loud. The problem is, there is no way to answer the items without knowing what they want, since it is not stated anywhere. :mad:

And now they are upset because we do not answer a non exsiting audit report. How does such a large company stay in business?

MsHeeler
I don't know how important your products are to the supplier, and you might get to a point where you have to swallow a bitter pill. A good point to make with them, however, is that your company's quoted prices are based in part on the customer's documented requirements, and that substantial changes in requirements could result in reopening the contract. Sometimes that's the only way to get their attention.
 
M

MIREGMGR

#7
Re: The customer does not go by their own Supplier Quality Manual???

We have a Very Large Global Customer that gigged us in a recent audit for not responding promptly enough on ten product packaging complaints from their Japan subsidiary...even though the auditors were aware that they delayed sending us six of the complaints for eight months (extending into a different fiscal year), and still haven't sent us the other four, almost two years after they supposedly occurred.

I wish there was a practical way for us to issue NCs to them each time they don't have their ISO act together.
 
M

MsHeeler

#8
Re: The customer does not go by their own Supplier Quality Manual???

That would be great! Do you think that we should offer to come in and to a courtesy audit for them? :whip:

MsHeeler
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#9
Re: The customer does not go by their own Supplier Quality Manual???

I think Jim Wynne would agree with me that no purpose is served by being snippy or sarcastic to the customer.

The key to maintaining control over emotions (which can quickly escalate into he said/she said shouting matches) is to

  1. WRITE an agenda for the meeting
  2. distribute it in advance to all concerned parties for comment (addition or subtraction) BEFORE the meeting
  3. stick strictly to the agenda DURING the meeting
  4. make notes of answers and action items, especially WHO, and any projected time tables for the action to be performed (be sure YOU make the notes)
  5. distribute copies of the notes to the same parties who received the agenda PLUS any additional parties identified during the meeting
  6. Follow up on action items according to the projected time table
  7. notify ALL parties again when action items are not complete by time table date; request new projected date
  8. notify ALL parties as each action item is completed.
Some may view this as merely a CYA stopgap, but systematic processes take the events out of the "special, emotion-charged, fire-fighting" category into "business as usual" where the real work gets performed.
 
Z

zancky

#10
Re: The customer does not go by their own Supplier Quality Manual???

We recently were audited by a customer, a large well known customer. During the audit I requested to know where the requirement was for an item to clarify what they expected to see. The answer was "we do not audit to the manual, we audit to the checklist".

The "requirements" on the checklist are not in the Supplier Quality Manual, and the opinions that were added are not there either. In addition, we have not received the audit report back from them, and it has been a month. Now they are concerned that we are not taking them seriously.
I don't know if it can help You but You are not the only one.
When a "well known customer" comes to audit, it may happen thay are not looking for seeing if Your organization/system works "well" but how many differences there are between Your system and their "perfect" one by checklist. You can receive the checklist before the audit but without any "customer trainer" You can not understand most of the items.
Some customers pretend to have a copy of their quality/production/etc system in your plant for the parts You are producing for them. everything that is not a copy of their system is a "NC" or a remark that you must solve introducing their methodology/phylosophy
when it happened to me I tried to find someone to speak with inside customer organization. When I found out, I used him as consultan in order to understand the "real" meaning of the checklist and I found out some interesting points.

Look at the findings, try to sketch a proposal, send Your comments and proposal to Your top management and wait for Your top management answer. If it takes time tell Your customer Your organisation is thinking about their proposals for improvement very carefully because they (the proposal) are so "wise" :)sarcasm: ?)

At the end it is Your top managent that takes the decision. If They wont the business You must bear all the conseguences:notme:.

imho aswer to the customer and look likes you appreciate their audit or your organization will charge You for all the problems/delays etc:bonk:
 
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