Evaluating Effective Supplier Quality Assurance


By Scot Larsen
January 30, 2017

Supplier Quality Assurance

Supplier Quality Assurance (SQA) is the process intended to ensure that a supplier reliably supplies goods or services that satisfy the customer’s needs. This process is collaborative to ensure the supplier’s offerings meet the agreed-upon requirements with minimum inspection or modification.

Effective quality assurance should incorporate a combination of process and product audits that manage external and internal checks and focus on supplier management, quality conformity of the product through its lifecycle, production and equipment quality and effectiveness, and pre-shipment inspections. In this article, we’ll take a high-level look at the overall SQA process and discuss key considerations that impact its effectiveness. It’s important to note that, while SQA applies to both products and services, we’ll simplify the topic here by speaking only to product-related processes.

The 9-Step SQA Process and How It’s Measured

According to Joseph Moses Juran, the renowned quality management evangelist, the supplier quality assurance process can be divided into nine key steps as follows:

  1. Define the product’s quality requirements
  2. Identify and evaluate available suppliers for the necessary parts
  3. Choose the most reliable suppliers that fit the productions’ needs
  4. Conduct joint quality planning
  5. Establish cooperation and collaboration during relationship period
  6. Validate compliance to requirements and regulations
  7. Certify qualified suppliers
  8. Conduct quality improvement plans
  9. Develop and implement supplier ratings-scorecards

Among these steps, key metrics must be applied in order to evaluate and score supplier quality assurance, even before delivery. Common metrics include: the percentage of products that are in compliance within quality specifications, percentage of products that are delivered on time and are complete, and new product introduction (NPI), which measures the percentage of new products that meet time, volume and quality standards.

Benefits of Quality Assurance for Suppliers

Assuring quality in a competitive industry is not only a requirement – it has important benefits that can impact the entire manufacturing process. Here are just a few examples of the high-level benefits to suppliers:

  • Provides cost savings by eliminating waste of defective production and minimizing product failure rates
  • Reduces cycle times by streamlining the quality assurance process of a company’s global network of suppliers
  • Shortens time to market by optimizing manufacturing procedures that are managed with the quality assurance process
  • Protects companies from liabilities by error-proofing processes and producing defect-free products
  • Minimizes a company’s risk of regulatory non-compliance and legal liabilities

Supplier Quality Assurance Across Industries

In our era of globalized networks, many organizations must continuously evaluate the supply chain to meet requirements that go beyond cost. In order to identify opportunities for improvement within the supply chain, organizations should apply a risk-based approach that examines both the criticality of a supplier and the probability of failure of a supplier. This can be achieved by implementing standardized risk and audit tools through an enterprise system. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and other end user-direct sellers manage the quality of parts received from suppliers, and they bear most of the liability for any quality or safety issues related to their products. As such, suppliers must provide product quality and performance assurance to those organizations, which can be achieved through a comprehensive quality system. Such systems help evaluate the parts or raw materials that come from upstream suppliers, as well as ensure all final products satisfy requirements.

How can Ease help?

Ease is a leading provider of process management software, including the Beacon assessment management platform, that can help your organization establish a robust SQA program and achieve operational excellence.

Scot Larson
Scot Larsen