I see both of your points, however I do disagree. I don't feel that just because we purchased the templates from the company, it guarantees an automatic pass - the substance/company specific material still needs to be there. I see it comparable as templates the FDA put our for the food safety plan and food defense builder and examples/templates I received from the PCQI class I took.
Background - we are a small company ( family owned under 10 employees who work at the plant) who needs to stay competitive thus needing SQF certification besides our GMP 3rd party audit we do. Before me being hired 18 months ago, there wasn't a person whose specific job was food safety - the plant manager and other positions took care of it. When we were inspected by the FDA last year, the inspector was happy to see we had the training and our food safety plans in place/the company spent resources/money to hire a food safety person. Now I'm grateful for my position but I'm new to this field as well. I'm a trained registered dietitian who previously taught food service establishments food safety classes for the state food code (servsafe) and had spent a total prior to this job 2 summer breaks in 2 different USDA food plants. (If you're curious of why I was chosen then - I needed a career change and I live in a rural area so jobs are scarcer and many companies have a hard time finding qualified individuals or individuals with a close enough background to train). So with some help from my boss, it was my sole responsibility to write our food safety and food defense plan to be in compliance with FSMA. Now it is my sole responsibility to write our SQF policies with help from the other employees when I have questions on procedures.
So while I had some knowledge and learned fast - I don't have the knowledge that comes with time nor have seen any other SQF policies to know the language/material SQF is wanting. When I wrote our food safety plan last year in the 2nd month after I was hired, I used the FDA tool and the examples from the PCQI training to then personalize it. For our GMP audit, our policies are based upon the policy manual/code. I took the SQF class but while trying to write the policies - I get confused on what is specifically be asked for. I still have a hard time even with the templates.
I did try to write our SQF policies without a template for 2 months but I was getting lost. So I'm the one that requested my boss buy them as a guidance of how to build our SQF policies. It was either the templates or my boss would have had to hire someone outside of the company to write them instead. From what I've seen of the templates I'm using, they are similar to the IFSQN SQF Code Implementation Package. I see these templates as a positive thing. A tool to help guide companies especially smaller ones to achieve certification and stay competitive.
The plan: Use the templates, the PowerPoint slides/notes from SQF training, this forum and other resources to write the policies. Once written, hire a company to do a GAP analysis to see what is missing. Fix mistakes then have our audit to become certified. Time line - be certified by 2021.