Which Business Function should Approve Suppliers and maintain the ASL


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Hi All,

I am currently having a debate internally on which function in the business should approve suppliers and maintain the ASL (approved supplier list).

Has anyone come accross this operational question and what has worked for you?

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Fully vaccinated are you?
It depends on the company size and how it is structured. Typically if the company has a purchasing department, it is responsible for approving suppliers and maintaining the approved supplier list. The QA department may or may not have an input. For example, if the company needs envelopes for invoicing, QA typically will not be involved.

How does your company do it currently?


Trusted Information Resource
From my experience - supplier controls is usually done by either QA or the Operations group. It usually starts with the QA group who, obviously, has a better idea what the regulator wants to see. Later on it might shift to the Operations group who, obviously, have a lot more resources. And in large organizations, due to complexity, it goes back to QA.

That's the lifecycle of supplier controls as I know it. :)



Fully vaccinated are you?
Here is an example of where that typically fails: A department needs toner cartridges for printers. For toner cartridges there is no reason to tie up people in QA to come up with specifications, etc. Yes, you can but is it a wise use of resources?

The idea of a purchasing department is controls and coordination to ensure the appropriate inputs are gathered. If any department needs something, whether it be manufacturing, the design group, personnel, etc., they come up with their requirements (e.g.: HP toner cartridge A1154 or T6061 aluminum rods, 3/8" or 12" mailing envelopes). Those requirements are passed on to purchasing. In the case of T6061 aluminum rods, 3/8" QA will probably have an input to purchasing.

You can, of course, put QA in charge, but burdening them with approving paper clip suppliers is somewhat useless.

Some existing discussions:

Responsibility and Authority in a QMS - Approval of Supplier Accreditation

ISO 9001 Clause 7.4.1 Purchasing Process (Supplier Approval)

Vendor (Supplier) Approval Procedure - Scope of the procedure

Some Supplier Approval specific Discussions


Starting to get Involved
In my opinion, Purchasing should always have the general responsibility for their supply chain.

However, the approval decision, should always be joint decision of Purchasing and Quality, as both look at different aspects
  • Purchasing --> Commercial Topics
    • is the suppliers business commercially stable enough for a long term relationship?
    • is the pricing attractive?
    • is lead-time acceptable?
    • ...
  • Quality --> Technical Topics
    • is the supplier capable of producing a part?
    • does the supplier have a quality management system?
    • ...
E.g. the best, technologically capable supplier won't be any good, if they are about to be shut down because of mismanagement, over-indebtedness, ...

Also, as Marc has already pointed out, not everything should go through Quality. So a reasonable differentiation between Production and Non-Production Material should be made.


Trusted Information Resource
It's been my experience that:

Purchasing wants to buy from suppliers that deliver to spec and on time at competitive pricing

Engineering wants to be able to get prototypes from the fastest provider regardless of performance or price

Everybody wants it to be Quality's responsibility when something goes amiss

I try to let all parties use who they want and be available to assess as requested and to counsel suppliers when they need it. I just ask that they let me take a look at potential suppliers before big commitments are made.

Ronen E

Problem Solver
My opinion, in a nutshell:

Purchasing should be responsible for the final approval of suppliers and the maintenance of the approved suppliers list, but they must follow unambiguous (and detailed enough) procedures that dictate who they have to consult before approving a new supplier / deciding to extend engagement / deciding to strike out a previously approved supplier.

Where there is no formally appointed "Purchasing" function it should default to the Operations function.


First Time Right...

As mentioned in some of the comments, it all depends on how your organization is structured. If your organization has sufficient departments, i.e Quality, Supplier Quality, Purchasing, Supplier Account Management, Operation, Procurement Engineering then some of the world-class organization use following workflow:

Request to Add New Supplier in ASL:

- Anyone from the organization

Initial Approval :

- Supplier Account Manager /Commodity Manager and/or Purchasing Manager (Also responsible to make sure purchasing, sustainability, or other agreements are in place)

Supplier Assesment, Qualification and Final Approval:

- Supplier Quality / Quality (Also responsible to make sure quality agreement is in place)

Adding to / Maintaining the ASL:

- Supplier Quality / Quality (Ultimately responsible to make sure all supplier in ASL are compliant to all internal and external requirements. Performs periodic audit and supplier development activity.

You can follow the same logic to remove a supplier from the ASL

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