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Wasting Time Filling in Endless Customer Questionnaires


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#1 involvementpkg

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Posted 05 January 2004 - 03:04 PM

why does every company who are going through brc set up their own individual supplier questionnaire, if everyone is required to get the same info, why wasnt an electronic template setup and then a supplier could fill it out once!! :angry: and when the next customer asks the same questions in their own different way it would have been a simple matter of "print" :rolleyes:


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#2 Simon

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Posted 05 January 2004 - 03:58 PM

Good point, or better still why not just ask for a copy of the supplier's latest BRC/IoP certificate and save the insane paper chase completely.

Call me a sicko but I prefer an audit to a 20 page questionnaire, probably because I know after all the hard work, most of the time it gets filed unread. That and the fact (through excessive computer use) I have lost the ability to write with pen on paper.

Also in my experience I have found that many of the questionnaires that come from food companies are originally designed for ingredients suppliers and are sent to packaging suppliers without amendment. Therefore they ask lots of irrelevant questions. I guess they have all their suppliers on the same database and so they all get the same questionnaire. I don't like to say these people are lazy, but I agree it's infuriating!

Incidentally, has anyone who has achieved the BRC/IoP Packaging Standard begun to see a drop off in the number of customer audits / questionnaires?

Simon


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#3 rheath

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Posted 05 January 2004 - 06:43 PM

Good point, or better still why not just ask for a copy of the supplier's latest BRC/IoP certificate and save the insane paper chase completely.

Couldn’t agree more with all of your points except auditing suppliers - if they have the certificate, that satisfies my due diligence (unless I have been experiencing poor levels of service/quality).

I would still advocate having 'visits' as this gives you a feel of how a business is running but I will leave all the non-conformance auditing to the certification bodies - leave the visits to dealing with proactive issues.


On the questionnaire front - going to have a bit of a rant - We have been chasing a lot of major blue chip companies lately - it seems to me the bigger the company ; the bigger the questionnaire.

The expletives coming out of my office just before Christmas were wonderful as I have just finished my most 'comprehensive' questionnaire yet. 64 pages of open questions!!

It took me 2 f***ing days!! - This from a blue chip company that signs up to the BRC/IOP philosophy.

All of the B**t**d answers could have been answered with the question - Are you certified to the BRC/IOP standard - If yes, please provide a copy of your certificate..

My only hope is that sense prevails once we are approved suppliers and this ridiculous paper trail ends & let the standard do what it is meant to do.

On a general level, I have seen a trend for less audits & more sensible questionnaires from existing customers who know us & our standards.

The major area where I still see ridiculous questionnaires is new business & their wish to see us jump through as many hoops as possible to prove our worth (It's not so bad when we get the business - but still frustrating all the same)

Any way - happy new year, I can only hope this year is as good as the last (personally speaking)..

Kind regards

Richard
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#4 Simon

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Posted 05 January 2004 - 08:13 PM

Couldn't agree more with all of your points except auditing suppliers - if they have the certificate, that satisfies my due diligence (unless I have been experiencing poor levels of service/quality).

Don't get me wrong Rich I only said I preferred audits to demonstrate how much I really detest those pesky questionnaires. By the way whilst we are on the subject has anyone been bushwhacked by one of those Ethical Questionnaires? Obviously, I'm against any exploitation or abuse of workers but come on even a rocket scientists monkey knows that UK companies must comply with basic UK and EU employment legislation. I mean do they really need to ask this question:

Q: Do you use physical punishment to discipline your employees?

A: No, but please do not tempt me. :lol:

The mind boggles. Anyway, it's good to see that as a result of BRC/IoP you are benefiting from a reduction in the number of audits and questionnaires from your established customer base. My experience is much the same.

All the Best,
Simon
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#5 yorkshire

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 12:02 PM

Working within food manufacturing I agree with the comments on questionnaires. The first question to any packaging supplier should be "Have you got the BRC/IoP standard?". If you have then send a copy of the certificate, a copy of the non conformances and actions taken. That is fine. The certificate should then be forwarded when renewed.

My problem is suppliers that do not have the standard. How much is reasonable to ask a supplier to get my due diligence?

Does anyone have an example questionnaire that they feel is reasonable?


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#6 rheath

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 03:08 PM

It is likely that only you (worst case the courts) can tell what is the appropriate level of due diligence. This will all invariably revolve around the risk to you and your product (ultimately the consumer).

I have attached a standard supplier self evaluation that I use (I think its a reasonable amount of detail for an initial feel of a supplier).

My first step is to send a letter seeing if suppliers are certified, if not - this questionnaire gets sent.

There is a scoring system, which gives an indication on how well a supplier has rated themselves.

I have to stress that if supply is medium or high risk I would also ensure a formal audit is carried out to satisfy DD - even on low risk supplies if self evaluation is poor then an audit would be carried out.

Before going down the line of auditing everyman and his dog, I would also look at rationalising your supply base, more significantly put back pressure on suppliers to get BRC/IOP, then all is fine and dandy - it makes great sense in managing DD (& your time).


Hope this helps


Regards

Richard


Simon my lovely :wub: (not seen this smiley used B4 - thought you'd like it)

I dont seem to be able to upoad an excel file - can you help?


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#7 Simon

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 03:49 PM

Simon my lovely :wub:  (not seen this smiley used B4 - thought you'd like it)

I dont seem to be able to upoad an excel file - can you help?

Yes Dear, :o

Can you let me know how many kilobytes the file is you are trying to upload - it may be something to do with that.
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#8 rheath

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 04:38 PM

52 KB


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#9 Simon

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 04:49 PM

Rich,

I'll have to look at it when I get a minute. For now email it to me and I'll have a go at uploading it, either that or save it as a pdf.

Simon


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#10 Simon

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 07:36 AM

I'm still stuggling with uploading '.xls' files and have asked for technical assistance. Anyway the file is now in hyperspace and that's the link to it below:

Example Questionnaire

Regards,
Simon


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#11 involvementpkg

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 09:12 AM

Right back to my original statement
every company who goes down the brc/iop route creates their own individual questionnaire of anything up to 27 pages!!!

as a supplier we can get 2-3 a week and i can only suppose each customer is trying to obtain the same info.

brc/iop should have set up an electronic questionnaire that could be used by everyone and each supplierwho is not accredited to brc/iop fills it in once, saves it, and when another customer wants the same info it can be printed out instead of being filled in by hand taking another 2hours+

or am i right to just create my own questionnaire and when asked for info issue customers with that and a statement saying we cannot fill in individual questionnaires


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#12 rheath

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 09:31 AM

I would agree that questionnaires are a pain but I believe the reason why they are so varied is that the perceived level of risk in different product areas vary. Some of the longer questionnaires I have answered seem to be based on previous incidents and are checking we have controls in place to prevent these.

With respect to your idea of having a standard stock reply I like it BUT I believe the response to these questionnaires is not so much a technical issue as a commercial issue.

If your customers are anything like ours - they like to be pampered and recognised for their brilliant work - within their organisations and by suppliers. To ‘refuse’ complete their documentation in many instances would prevent you for progressing in tenders (may potentially create issues with incumbent suppliers).

This again an example of - we quality professionals making work & justification for ourselves!

Hopefully (please god hopefully) when BRC/IOP has settled in (perhaps tested in court), these organisations will begin to accept the certificate as due diligence.


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#13 Simon

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 02:43 PM

Just for info you should be able to upload MS Excel files from now on. Evidence below:

:)

Simon

Attached Files


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#14 Simon

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 09:18 AM

Richard,

Your questionnaire is very straightforward and I like the numerical rating, which adds objectivity. A lot of questionnaires ask if you are ISO 9000 certificated and ticking yes allows you to skip over several questions, I'm interested in understanding why you haven't incorporated this, in fact I don't see a mention of ISO 9000 anywhere (unless I missed it).

Simon


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#15 rheath

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 03:50 PM

I help Royal Mail improve their volumes - basically I send out an initial very simple questionnaire i.e.

Do you have ISO 9000, BRC/IOP, or other standards.

If no you will shortly be sent a self assessment questionnaire

Would you be willing to be audited..

I find that a large questionnaire (whether it all needs to be filled in or not) will get put in the To Do file where as two tick boxes usually gets sent back straight away.

Regards

Rich


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#16 Simon

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 07:51 PM

I see...thanks for the clarification. ;)


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#17 mikelond

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Posted 02 February 2004 - 05:07 PM

I think I can safely say that I have just completed the mother of all questionnaires...............
As QA/Hygiene Manager for an ISO9001 and BRC/IOP accredited company, I am used to getting the usual requests for copies of certificates etc for proof of compliance. I really don't mind responding to these at all. Its only natural that having spent several thousand pounds, lost many hours sleep and possibly shortened your expected lifespan, you would want to show absolutely everyone the fruits of your labours. ^_^

However, the questionnaire I have just completed took the p*ss and the jar it came in. :wacko:

64 pages, along with a 52 page explanatory notes booklet as to the correct way of completing the questions.
This took me the best part of three days, as it meant gathering together all manner of information from every department on site. There seemed to be an inordinate interest in the toilet habits of our employees, and nocturnal goings on around the site perimeter.
Probably the most obscure question related to us having nut-related products in our vending machines (OK, I can see the point from nut allergies etc, I suppose) :unsure:


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#18 Simon

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Posted 02 February 2004 - 09:47 PM

To top it all, the last request was to enclose copies of the BRC and ISO certificates - does this mean that they are worthless in themselves?

Maybe as the two certifications are broadening to cover an ever-expanding range of industries and services, they are losing some of their kudos? :unsure:

Mike, it's insanity borne out of paranoia, monumental ignorance and cataclysmic intransigence. Obviously, these people are unable to comprehend the benefits of a mutually beneficial customer supplier partnership. Total codswallop (I like that word) and it takes due diligence way too far.

Incidentally, I heard the other day of a company who have ISO 9001, The BRC/IoP Packaging Standard and The American Institute of Baking AIB: Consolidated Standards for Food Contact Packaging Manufacturing Facilities. They have to maintain AIB because it is a requirement of one of their major customers - a UK blue chip. The same customer told them that they must comply with the new US Bioterrorism Act. Although patently untrue it was unfortunately too late to save the poor packaging company who had already engaged fully with their Emergency Preparedness Plan and had changed all of their locks, installed CCTV and purchased a couple of rottweilers.

Do these people not realise that by piling this C~#p on us they are over burdening a resource that would be much better deployed improving the business in practice and not just in theory. They may even get to feel some of the benefit. :rolleyes:

With regard to your quote above Mike - I really hope not. I believe that it's all about increasing awareness and understanding of The BRC/IoP Packaging Standard within the food industry. Top of the responsibility list are the UK Retailers who must drum into their suppliers of branded food products exactly what is required of their packaging suppliers. E.g., The BRC/IoP Packaging Standard - period.

Secondly, The BRC should do much more to promote the standard; I mean it took them almost two years to get any information about the standard on their web site. Doh!

Finally, we (the packaging industry) have a responsibility and we really do have to take some positive action to increase awareness of The BRC/IoP Packaging Standard if we want things to change. I'm trying to do my bit and a while ago, we set up a page for companies who have achieved the standard, the idea being that this list or database would be promoted to the food industry in order to raise both awareness of the standard and the profile of registered companies. As you can see, the page is sparsely populated but I have not given up on it completely. I sent all the BRC/IoP Certification Bodies an email asking them to let their registered companies (customers) know about the resource but judging by the lack of response I cannot believe that they did.

http://www.saferpak....d_companies.htm

Anyway, if your company is registered to the BRC/IOP Packaging Standard the invitation is still open and you are welcome to send us your details.

Anyone got ideas on how we can promote the standard further?

Regards,
Simon
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#19 Puzzle

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Posted 04 February 2004 - 08:41 AM

Blimey.

This certainly makes me glad that we decided not to enter the food packaging industry, mid last year :rolleyes:

This lot make the automotive and fire protection markets seem like childs play :ph34r:


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#20 yorkshire

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Posted 04 February 2004 - 04:50 PM

Simon,

Working for a Food Manufacturer we get audited by inspection bodies against the BRC and IFS standards. Officially UKAS do not allow auditors to give any advice on how things should be done; you are then left to interpret the standard as you feel fit and can sometimes interpret them wrong. I feel that the BRC should provide guidance notes for the standard on the way they should be interpreted and give examples of how they see the clause can be met.

For example under supplier approval and monitoring they could list examples of how suppliers can be approved e.g. Certificated (is this a word? Certified sounds like being sent to a mental home) against an internationally recognised standard: BRC, EFSIS, IFS, BRC/IoP; supplier audit; supplier performance monitoring.......

Food manufacturers would then realise that they can cut out some of their hassle by buying from a BRC/IoP supplier and move to these suppliers, in time all packaging suppliers would need to have a certificate as a matter of course. Its happened with food and will happen with packaging.


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#21 Franco

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Posted 05 February 2004 - 08:02 AM

Anyone got ideas on how we can promote the standard further?

Just fulfill the requirements and let your delighted customers appreciate the results of your efforts B)
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#22 Simon

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Posted 05 February 2004 - 08:27 AM

Anyone got ideas on how we can promote the standard further?

Just fulfill the requirements and let your delighted customers appreciate the results of your efforts B)
I agree Franco but it's very difficult to delight your customers (whilst delighting yourself) when customers requirements are contrary to, or over and above the requirements of a standard which was developed to unify the requirements.

The requirements being hygeine/technical management systems.

Does that make sense?
:huh:

Simon
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#23 Simon

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Posted 05 February 2004 - 08:41 AM

I feel that the BRC should provide guidance notes for the standard on the way they should be interpreted and give examples of how they see the clause can be met.

For example under supplier approval and monitoring they could list examples of how suppliers can be approved e.g. Certificated (is this a word? Certified sounds like being sent to a mental home) against an internationally recognised standard: BRC, EFSIS, IFS, BRC/IoP; supplier audit; supplier performance monitoring.......

Food manufacturers would then realise that they can cut out some of their hassle by buying from a BRC/IoP supplier and move to these suppliers, in time all packaging suppliers would need to have a certificate as a matter of course. Its happened with food and will happen with packaging.

Good idea, I think guidance documents would be very useful, I suppose in a way this forum is sort of a jumbled up and unoffical guidance document for The BRC/IoP Packaging Standard. And at some stage maybe we could go the whole hog and create a document.

I'm not as up to speed with "The BRC Technical Standard and Protocol for Companies Supplying Retailer Branded Food Products". Yorkshire does it not already say under supplier approval and monitoring that BRC/IoP is acceptable? If not its certainly a major oversight that should be rectified in the next revision of the Food Standard.

What does the supplier approval and monitoring clause say Yorkshire?

Cheers,
Simon
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Best Regards,

Simon Timperley
IFSQN Administrator
 
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#24 yorkshire

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Posted 05 February 2004 - 10:53 AM

Simon,

Here are guidance questions issued by our inspection company for the BRC standard on Supplier Approval............

2.10.1 Supplier Approval and Performance Monitoring.

The Company shall operate procedures for approval and the monitoring of its suppliers.

Foundation
2.10.1.1 Does the Company have a documented supplier approval procedure in place based upon risk assessments?
2.10.1.2 Do these procedures define how exceptions are handled, e.g. the use of the product or services, where audit or monitoring has not been undertaken?
2.10.1.3 Do these procedures include clear criteria for the ongoing assessment and standards of performance required? Assessment may take the form of monitoring performance through in-house checks, certificates of analysis or extend to supplier inspection, as appropriate. Supplier assessment may include evaluation of HACCP systems, product safety information and legislative requirements.

Higher Level
2.10.1.4 Does the Company review the performance of the supplier within a specified ‘trial' period and decide upon the level of on going supplier performance?
Recommendation
2.10.1.5 Are the methods and frequency of assessment based on risk assessment?


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#25 Franco

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Posted 06 February 2004 - 07:36 AM

I agree Franco but it's very difficult to delight your customers (whilst delighting yourself) when customers requirements are contrary to, or over and above the requirements of a standard which was developed to unify the requirements.

There are food manufacturing companies dealing with ten or more different standards (9000:2000, 14001, SA 8000, BRC and similar retailers' standards, biological agriculture, traceability, 17025, GMP and GTP, IGP-DOP and so on) with different registrars and different requirements.

We are consumers too and I am often confused :wacko: when I read the labels of the products. I simply don't understand the meaning of all these certifications and accreditations.

I think that too many standards are in place and this is the result of the standardization failure. The "getting the badge" policy is detrimental to quality. The "ISO 9000" business has damaged quality.

We simply have to come back to quality, real quality and forget all these deviations and perturbations and I feel our customers will appreciate this.

Supplier questionnaries with specific questions related to previous accidents are "value for money".

Acting as a Customer I feel delighted when I realize that real corrective and preventive measures have been implemented in those critical points because I know form previous experience that the risk is quite high :rolleyes:

In audits I often find those points are disregarded :angry:

Just do it B)
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