Jump to content

  • Quick Navigation
Photo
- - - - -

Ridiculous Supplier questionnaire


  • You cannot start a new topic
  • Please log in to reply
37 replies to this topic

#1 Betty8

Betty8

    Grade - Active

  • IFSQN Active
  • 5 posts
  • 0 thanks
0
Neutral

Posted 22 November 2010 - 09:34 AM

Hi

I'm working for QA department and part of my job is responding to our customers self assessment questionnaire. I don't know how I should respond to customer who asked me in that questionnaire to attached a copy of my procedures that I think are intellectual property of my company. The last one has one page of documents to enclosed. In my opinion ridiculous. If I would attached all this it will be about 100 pages of documents. And yet they asked for copy of HACCP - what should I sent ? All HACCP documentations (50 pages at least) ?? I understand that they are some important things like CCP but asking for all HACCP !

We are accredited against BRC standard and sending certificate should be sufficient but it's not for most customers. They asking for certificate and then sending form with questions that are covered by BRC standards anyway.

But without customers our business wouldn't survive so How to satisfied them ? How you deal with questionnaire like this ? Am I right to say NO for sending procedures. I'm sure they wouldn't even read them.

Thanks for all opinion

Betty








  • 0

#2 Mike Green

Mike Green

    Grade - SIFSQN

  • IFSQN Senior
  • 355 posts
  • 72 thanks
36
Excellent

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Durham
  • Interests:Food(cooking & eating!) Gym, Sun, Sea,Surf,

Posted 22 November 2010 - 11:22 AM

Hi

I'm working for QA department and part of my job is responding to our customers self assessment questionnaire. I don't know how I should respond to customer who asked me in that questionnaire to attached a copy of my procedures that I think are intellectual property of my company. The last one has one page of documents to enclosed. In my opinion ridiculous. If I would attached all this it will be about 100 pages of documents. And yet they asked for copy of HACCP - what should I sent ? All HACCP documentations (50 pages at least) ?? I understand that they are some important things like CCP but asking for all HACCP !

We are accredited against BRC standard and sending certificate should be sufficient but it's not for most customers. They asking for certificate and then sending form with questions that are covered by BRC standards anyway.

But without customers our business wouldn't survive so How to satisfied them ? How you deal with questionnaire like this ? Am I right to say NO for sending procedures. I'm sure they wouldn't even read them.

Thanks for all opinion

Betty


Hi Betty,

I think the old adage-"the customer is always right" might well apply here!- depending on the size of the contract and how much your company needs it and the kind of relationship you have with them-and how likely they are to go elsewhere- i would seriously consider just giving them what they want!

I worked with a company a few years ago who had a contract with a major UK retailer-the retailer insisted that they move to a new factory (if they wanted their contract renewed)-even though the one they were in was fit for purpose and met all legislative and contractual requirements- after careful consideration....they moved!!

Regards

Mike

Edited by Mike Green, 22 November 2010 - 11:23 AM.

  • 0
I may sound like a complete idiot...but actually there are a couple of bits missing

#3 Tony-C

Tony-C

    Grade - FIFSQN

  • IFSQN Fellow
  • 3,010 posts
  • 809 thanks
171
Excellent

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Koh Samui
  • Interests:My main interests are sports particularly football, pool, scuba diving, skiing and ten pin bowling.

Posted 22 November 2010 - 11:40 AM

Hi

I'm working for QA department and part of my job is responding to our customers self assessment questionnaire. I don't know how I should respond to customer who asked me in that questionnaire to attached a copy of my procedures that I think are intellectual property of my company. The last one has one page of documents to enclosed. In my opinion ridiculous. If I would attached all this it will be about 100 pages of documents. And yet they asked for copy of HACCP - what should I sent ? All HACCP documentations (50 pages at least) ?? I understand that they are some important things like CCP but asking for all HACCP !

We are accredited against BRC standard and sending certificate should be sufficient but it's not for most customers. They asking for certificate and then sending form with questions that are covered by BRC standards anyway.

But without customers our business wouldn't survive so How to satisfied them ? How you deal with questionnaire like this ? Am I right to say NO for sending procedures. I'm sure they wouldn't even read them.

Thanks for all opinion

Betty


Hi Betty,

Have to agree with Mike. If that is what the customer wants then why not send them? I know some customers are very demanding but this seems like a quick win - copy a few documents and put them in the post - and the customer is happy. I would send the HACCP plan as that is what people want to see usually.

I would much rather be able to copy documents and send them rather than have to complete a long winded and onerous questionnaire.

Regards,

Tony
  • 0

#4 Charles.C

Charles.C

    Grade - FIFSQN

  • IFSQN Moderator
  • 12,661 posts
  • 3327 thanks
352
Excellent

  • Earth
    Earth
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:SF
    TV
    Movies

Posted 22 November 2010 - 01:17 PM

Dear beata,

One response, assuming geographically possible and yr top management agrees, is to simply re-iterate yr first second sentence but also state that the document(s) is available for inspection at [appropriate address].

IMEX, the previous posts might precipitate some new QA job hunting in the not too distant future. :smile: I guess it depends on the company philosophy and specific situation.

Rgds / Charles.C


  • 0

Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#5 Allsafe

Allsafe

    Grade - Active

  • IFSQN Associate
  • 13 posts
  • 1 thanks
0
Neutral

Posted 22 November 2010 - 01:57 PM

I would just state - available for inspection as Charles stated - most often there is no follow-up. Also if you receive many supplier screen questionaire take some time out and produce your own to send back as the reply - covering all the usual quaetions you get. it will save you a lot of time in the long run.


  • 0

#6 Anne Z

Anne Z

    Grade - MIFSQN

  • IFSQN Member
  • 86 posts
  • 13 thanks
2
Neutral

  • Netherlands
    Netherlands

Posted 22 November 2010 - 02:58 PM

Hello,

If I was in your situation I would send all the companies certificates - quality food safety organic everything.... Important work instructions you can send as well, but most of the times sending the certificates is enough. You can say in your email that the HACCP document X is checked by the auditor during the BRC audit or that it is required by the BRC standard.

Good luck!

Anne


  • 0

#7 tsmith7858

tsmith7858

    Grade - SIFSQN

  • IFSQN Senior
  • 262 posts
  • 51 thanks
9
Neutral

  • United States
    United States

Posted 22 November 2010 - 03:29 PM

It seems to be the common practice for a lot of customer now. Everyone wants to see the piles of paper ssociated with your process. I was first told by my company that a certificate shows that we have achieved an accepted standard (BRC, ISO, FSSC, SQF) and that is all they get. Then a big customer asks for more and they get a HACCP plan. Next one asks for the audit report from the registration audit. Next thing you know customers are getting everything.

Try to draw a line a see where it goes. Chances are it will go further based on the size of the customer. If your customer has cofidential agreement than intellectual property does not really stand up. We do, at the very least, watermark all documents that we send out with a "Confidential" and put on customer name and date so if it would show up somewhere than we know where it came from. You should also only send a secure pdf or some controlled format.


  • 0

#8 GMO

GMO

    Grade - FIFSQN

  • IFSQN Fellow
  • 2,241 posts
  • 488 thanks
55
Excellent

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom

Posted 23 November 2010 - 08:09 AM

Might be worth asking if they would accept the HACCP flow diagram and summary of CCPs. I wouldn't have thought the main issue was secrecy though (blimey I could have a stab at pretty much any HACCP plan from a quick look round, not saying it would be a good HACCP but it normally would match what exists! :whistle: ) Anyway, my main issue is HACCP is forever evolving. Whatever you send will be out of date within a couple of months so it's just a paper exercise.

Trust me, there's very little that's secret in the food industry!


  • 0

#9 DebD

DebD

    Grade - AIFSQN

  • IFSQN Associate
  • 28 posts
  • 16 thanks
1
Neutral

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:UK
  • Interests:Everything to do with Food!

Posted 23 November 2010 - 09:37 AM

Hello,

I would send HACCP flow and a CCP summary, I think you are right in that if you send the whole plan it won't get read!

As both a sender and filler in of questionnaires I get both sides of this one and it does seem to be different for everyone. To anyone writing a self assessment questionnaire to send out I would say that it is more likely to be completed if all the questions are relevant to the supplier concerned. There is nothing worse than filling in every question with Not Applicable as something always gets missed!

With regards the BRC certificate not being enough for customers, even BRC say that their audit is a samplng exercise only and I'm not sure our customers would let us get away with only a certificate as a method of approval so I think we are stuck with self assessment for the forseeable future.


  • 0

#10 Mike Green

Mike Green

    Grade - SIFSQN

  • IFSQN Senior
  • 355 posts
  • 72 thanks
36
Excellent

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Durham
  • Interests:Food(cooking & eating!) Gym, Sun, Sea,Surf,

Posted 23 November 2010 - 10:56 AM

Might be worth asking if they would accept the HACCP flow diagram and summary of CCPs. I wouldn't have thought the main issue was secrecy though (blimey I could have a stab at pretty much any HACCP plan from a quick look round, not saying it would be a good HACCP but it normally would match what exists! :whistle: ) Anyway, my main issue is HACCP is forever evolving. Whatever you send will be out of date within a couple of months so it's just a paper exercise.

Trust me, there's very little that's secret in the food industry!


Right On!
If they want info-and the info might help you to get a contract- then send it!- there are much easier ways to steal a haccp plan than pretending to want to buy stuff!

Not food related but around 20 odd yrs ago on my postgrad TQM course i did a study on two car manufacturers(no names no
pack drill)- the both had what was then BS5750 - to cut a long story short- they had both achieved the standard- but one of them subsequently had problems because if you slammed the car door too hard-the paint fell off!

If i was choosing between two potential suppliers who both had a particular 'standard'- i personally would want to see some of the 'workings' behind it before making a decision!!!!!!.

Regards

Mike
  • 0
I may sound like a complete idiot...but actually there are a couple of bits missing

#11 Tony-C

Tony-C

    Grade - FIFSQN

  • IFSQN Fellow
  • 3,010 posts
  • 809 thanks
171
Excellent

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Koh Samui
  • Interests:My main interests are sports particularly football, pool, scuba diving, skiing and ten pin bowling.

Posted 24 November 2010 - 07:14 AM

Not food related but around 20 odd yrs ago on my postgrad TQM course i did a study on two car manufacturers(no names no
pack drill)- the both had what was then BS5750 - to cut a long story short- they had both achieved the standard- but one of them subsequently had problems because if you slammed the car door too hard-the paint fell off!

Regards

Mike


Yes slightly :off_topic:

Exactly the problem with the 5750/9000 series standards originally in that the emphasis was based on how well a system was documented rather than how well it performed.

Regards,

Tony
  • 0

#12 Mike Green

Mike Green

    Grade - SIFSQN

  • IFSQN Senior
  • 355 posts
  • 72 thanks
36
Excellent

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Durham
  • Interests:Food(cooking & eating!) Gym, Sun, Sea,Surf,

Posted 24 November 2010 - 12:56 PM

Yes slightly :off_topic:

Exactly the problem with the 5750/9000 series standards originally in that the emphasis was based on how well a system was documented rather than how well it performed.

Regards,

Tony


Hi Tony -sorry, yesmaybe off topic-but used to demonstrate a valid point(IMO anyway)-namely in an age when everyone has every certification going, rather than assuming they are all identical and picking one from a hat- you have to dig a bit deeper and find the 'added value' to decide who to contract with?-or i suppose we could just accept the certs at face value.... cross our fingers.... go with the cheapest and wait to see if the paint falls off!:biggrin:

happy days!
Regards

Mike
  • 0
I may sound like a complete idiot...but actually there are a couple of bits missing

#13 Cathy

Cathy

    Grade - SIFSQN

  • IFSQN Senior
  • 253 posts
  • 36 thanks
7
Neutral

  • United States
    United States
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Virginia

Posted 27 November 2010 - 03:46 PM

I would discourage sending detailed documents if possible. I advise companies to have summaires available. This should provide enough information to let a customer know what you have in place, without disclosing what might be proprietary or simply impractical to send. When setting up a BRC or SQF system with a client, we often create a single document that summarizes or references what they do as compared to the code. Section by section, we either address the requirement in a few sentences or reference a procedure by name. The final document (maybe 10-15 pages) fully describes what you do , and can easilty be shared. Not treating your HACCP Plan and other procedures as confidential material can lead to trouble down the road should you ever face an incident that hits the news or the courts. I don't believe in hiding things, but I do think the story is always best told in person and on-site. Protecting your image while providing confidence to your customer can be a tough line to walk. You can also explain to the client that part of the concern is maintaining accurate information, Documents may change over time and the customer's version will become obsolete unless they wish to receive regualr updates which would be prohibitively time consuming for both of you.


  • 0
Cathy Crawford, HACCP Consulting Group
http://haccpcg.com/

#14 Charles.C

Charles.C

    Grade - FIFSQN

  • IFSQN Moderator
  • 12,661 posts
  • 3327 thanks
352
Excellent

  • Earth
    Earth
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:SF
    TV
    Movies

Posted 27 November 2010 - 03:56 PM

Dear All,

I certainly hope that none of the above pro-disclosure camp are part-time Nuclear Physicists. :biggrin:

I'm also wondering if employment contracts are legally able to state what they like in all countries or perhaps things like freedom of speech trip in for some locations.

Rgds / Charles.C


  • 0

Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#15 Ian R

Ian R

    Grade - MIFSQN

  • IFSQN Member
  • 89 posts
  • 27 thanks
6
Neutral

Posted 01 December 2010 - 03:11 PM

Have read all these answers and have smiled

In someways all are right and wrong.

If the customer is a supermarket with there own online systems, the common things of a QMS system to attach would be a minimum of the Haccp CCP's, Study and flow of the products that their are taking. You would also put on factory plan and a few policies and copies of third party cert's

If this is a paper request and you have BRC etc then just attach the Certificate with the report and any responses to non-conformance's. This covers the "Procedures" questions. Regarding the HACCp just add the CCP summary and the flows for the products that they take.

This cover the customer if they are supplying supermarkets etc.

If they require any other info they will come back and ask.

Hope this helps


  • 0

#16 Mike Green

Mike Green

    Grade - SIFSQN

  • IFSQN Senior
  • 355 posts
  • 72 thanks
36
Excellent

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Durham
  • Interests:Food(cooking & eating!) Gym, Sun, Sea,Surf,

Posted 01 December 2010 - 04:09 PM

Dear All,

I certainly hope that none of the above pro-disclosure camp are part-time Nuclear Physicists. :biggrin:



I'm more in the ' pro-getting the order camp'-:biggrin: - to lose it because of a few bits of paper would IMO be very short-sighted, as has been stated here earlier it is very unlikely that any earth shattering secrets will be disclosed!

and i don't think it is unreasonable for a potential customer to want to see 'the workings' behind the cert-after all some companies will meet the standard-others will blow it out of the water- if i was the customer doing a quality/price exercise i personally would like to know which it is!

Regards

Mike
  • 0
I may sound like a complete idiot...but actually there are a couple of bits missing

#17 Charles.C

Charles.C

    Grade - FIFSQN

  • IFSQN Moderator
  • 12,661 posts
  • 3327 thanks
352
Excellent

  • Earth
    Earth
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:SF
    TV
    Movies

Posted 01 December 2010 - 04:52 PM

Dear IanR,

In someways all are right and wrong.


Sitting on the fence ? :smile: Welcome to the forum ! :welcome:

As a matter of interest, do the "pro" people put "confidential" at the bottom of their procedures ? :whistle:

Rgds / Charles.C
  • 0

Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#18 Simon

Simon

    Grade - FIFSQN

  • IFSQN Admin
  • 11,423 posts
  • 1043 thanks
227
Excellent

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Manchester
  • Interests:Life, Family, Running, Cycling, Manager of a Football Team, Work, Watching Sport, The Internet, Food, Real Ale and Sleeping...

Posted 01 December 2010 - 07:50 PM

I don't believe in hiding things, but I do think the story is always best told in person and on-site.

Yes make them come and audit you, this way you can see them reading the documents they would have filed in the 'for future reference' drawer. :thumbdown:

I would send them the latest copy of any certificates along with audit reports (if you're brave enough) and invite them to audit you at their leisure.....and then just hope they don't take you up on the offer.
:sofa1:

Regards,
Simon
  • 0

Best Regards,

Simon Timperley
IFSQN Administrator
 
hand-pointing-down.gif

Need food safety advice?
Relax, you've come to the right place…

The IFSQN is a helpful network of volunteers providing answers and support. Check out the forums and get free advice from the experts on food safety management systems and a wide range of food safety topics.

 
We could make a huge list of rules, terms and conditions, but you probably wouldn’t read them.

All that we ask is that you observe the following:


1. No spam, profanity, pornography, trolling or personal attacks

2. Topics and posts should be “on topic” and related to site content
3. No (unpaid) advertising
4. You may have one account on the board at any one time
5. Enjoy your stay!


#19 Anne Z

Anne Z

    Grade - MIFSQN

  • IFSQN Member
  • 86 posts
  • 13 thanks
2
Neutral

  • Netherlands
    Netherlands

Posted 02 December 2010 - 09:34 AM

I wouldn't be a big fan of sending an audit report to a client. Some auditors are great in writing a rapport, but some really mess up spelling the names of people / buildings wrong etc. Also different client are mentioned in the rapport...maybe you don't want to share that.

Other slight problem nobody mentioned....language... Everything is fine if you're in the UK of USA. But I'm not going to translate all the workinstructions in English or in German. When I show the documents to a customer during an audit they understand that it's only in Dutch.

But I guess it also depends on how BIG the customer is....


  • 0

#20 Tony-C

Tony-C

    Grade - FIFSQN

  • IFSQN Fellow
  • 3,010 posts
  • 809 thanks
171
Excellent

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Koh Samui
  • Interests:My main interests are sports particularly football, pool, scuba diving, skiing and ten pin bowling.

Posted 02 December 2010 - 10:34 AM

Yes make them come and audit you, this way you can see them reading the documents they would have filed in the 'for future reference' drawer. :thumbdown:
:sofa1:

Regards,
Simon


I was Technical Manager of a multi-product site that had 50 - 100 audits per year. :crybaby:

You may have a different view if you had been through the same experience. :x_smile:
  • 0

#21 Foodworker

Foodworker

    Grade - MIFSQN

  • IFSQN Member
  • 239 posts
  • 171 thanks
7
Neutral

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom

Posted 02 December 2010 - 01:44 PM

Questionnaires have become a bit ritualistic over the past few years and are almost self breeding.

You have to do something mostly because the various standards say so. Yes I know its all part of due diligence, but due diligence is only defined when case law looks at a specific issue during a prosecution for a food safety offence and I am not aware of any case law related directly to the absence of a questionnaire.

The practicalities of auditing all of your suppliers for the most part prevent this happening so you end up using questionnaires.

Everybody gets them and most companies steal the best bits and put them in their own versions so you end up with an ever expanding questionnaire asking for all sorts of information. A questionnaire should only ask for information which is important to the purchaser.

You send the questionnaire back and what happens to it? Mostly its a cursory glance, tick the box and put in the filing cabinet. In probably about 20% of the audits I do when I look at the questionnaires I see things which raise the question "Why are you using this supplier?" For example no pest control, no hazard analysis. (suppliers need to complemented on their honesty sometimes!)Without reviewing the questionnaire it is as I said just a ritual.

Perhaps a dangerous line to tread, but I woul advocate only putting in the minimum information. If they really need to know they will come back.

As ever, there are exceptions, and these depend upon the size of the customer, the size of the supplier (ever got a questionnaire back from companies like Heinz or Kelloggs?), the business relationship and the nature of the material supplied. If you are providing a material which is to be sold under the customer's own label then it is reasonable to provide pretty much whatever the cusomer wants. They will take the initial ownership of any problems/prosections that may arise. If you are providing an off the shelf material, the purchaser doesn't need to know how often you do a glass audit or any of the other more trivial questions.

Sorry for the rant. It probably hasn't helped the initial post, but its a subject that frustrates me.


  • 0

#22 tsmith7858

tsmith7858

    Grade - SIFSQN

  • IFSQN Senior
  • 262 posts
  • 51 thanks
9
Neutral

  • United States
    United States

Posted 02 December 2010 - 04:55 PM

... Also different client are mentioned in the rapport...maybe you don't want to share that.


:off_topic: Audit reports from third party should never mention a client by name in the report! It is their responsibility to help maintain confidentiality.

I have also found that auditors are becoming more and more critical of their own wording in audit reports. The last auditor we had from a customer re-worded parts of his report 4-5 times while he was here.
  • 0

#23 Simon

Simon

    Grade - FIFSQN

  • IFSQN Admin
  • 11,423 posts
  • 1043 thanks
227
Excellent

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Manchester
  • Interests:Life, Family, Running, Cycling, Manager of a Football Team, Work, Watching Sport, The Internet, Food, Real Ale and Sleeping...

Posted 02 December 2010 - 05:00 PM

I was Technical Manager of a multi-product site that had 50 - 100 audits per year. :crybaby:
You may have a different view if you had been through the same experience. :x_smile:

I have. Well about 30 a year pre BRC and yes it was a total nightmare, if I wasn't hosting an audit I'd be making corrective actions or writing nice responses to customers. Almost a full time job. Three cheers for the BRC.

:yay:
  • 0

Best Regards,

Simon Timperley
IFSQN Administrator
 
hand-pointing-down.gif

Need food safety advice?
Relax, you've come to the right place…

The IFSQN is a helpful network of volunteers providing answers and support. Check out the forums and get free advice from the experts on food safety management systems and a wide range of food safety topics.

 
We could make a huge list of rules, terms and conditions, but you probably wouldn’t read them.

All that we ask is that you observe the following:


1. No spam, profanity, pornography, trolling or personal attacks

2. Topics and posts should be “on topic” and related to site content
3. No (unpaid) advertising
4. You may have one account on the board at any one time
5. Enjoy your stay!


#24 Charles.C

Charles.C

    Grade - FIFSQN

  • IFSQN Moderator
  • 12,661 posts
  • 3327 thanks
352
Excellent

  • Earth
    Earth
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:SF
    TV
    Movies

Posted 03 December 2010 - 05:22 AM

Dear Simon,

Nothing like a bit of Xmas Spirit. :beer:

I found yr comment interesting. Does it mean that BRC packaging has had a much more user-friendly result in eliminating Buyer's own-audits as compared to BRC food ?.

Even admitting that packaging is presumably a much lower generic risk than food and that, I guess, the former standard was a late starter, I get the feeling that the "Pack" standard has positively resisted some of the more annoying "Food" idiosyncracies, eg randomly inserting multiple risk assessment requirements. This was one reason I was a little shocked regarding the appearance of the "FI" criterion in another thread, signs of a possible unification on the "how can we make things more complicated > (max. due diligence + auditor profit)" principle. :crying:

And yes, i am naturally suspicious. :rolleyes:

Rgds / Charles.C

PS - sort of amusing how the thread title has led to posts on BRC :unsure:


  • 0

Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#25 min

min

    Grade - AIFSQN

  • IFSQN Associate
  • 31 posts
  • 1 thanks
0
Neutral

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom

Posted 09 December 2010 - 07:48 AM

Hi Dear,
I am also working in Technical department . For customer questionnaire what i do is send them BRC certificate & our Self assement in detial( 10 pages) which includes breif decription abotu all policy ( as per BRC) thats it .
I have replied to many custmoers no one insisted for complete the questionnaire.
If you have need any further information send me message.
cheers
Min


  • 0




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users