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How do you deal with over-the-top Supplier Questionnaires?


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#1 rewel

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Posted 20 August 2020 - 05:14 AM

Hi all,

 

Just wondering how everyone deals with over the top supplier questionnaires? I understand regulaions are getting tighter in regards to whats required.

 

I get about one a day that is so in depth and time consuming and i feel that if we are certified, which we are that should be enough because if we are passing audits we have all the criteria they are asking for. 

 

is it OK to decline these on the basis that we are audited and certified by a 3rd party and give them our certificates.

 

whats everyone's opinion on this?

 

 

Regards,

Rob



#2 QM-OS

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Posted 20 August 2020 - 05:55 AM

You can find some opinions in this similar thread: https://www.ifsqn.co...-questionnaire/


Edited by QM-OS, 20 August 2020 - 05:55 AM.


#3 MDaleDDF

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Posted 20 August 2020 - 12:53 PM

You can find some opinions in this similar thread: https://www.ifsqn.co...-questionnaire/

Man, that thread is great.   The response by QA to their questionnaire is epic.  Terrible, but epic, lol.  I fill tons of these out, as likely we all do, and have spent more than a few seconds daydreaming of sending back a response such as this to point out redundancies, but always I snap back to reality and just fill it out and send it back.  Mine are generally from customers though, so that makes it easier to deal with, as the thought of not getting paid by customers would prooooooooobably upset the boss...

I don't ever remember declining one.  It's part of the job nowadays, and it's not going to get lighter any time soon imho.  I have responded with sending our basic info they want, like the last audit, etc etc, like throwing spaghetti  at the wall to see if it sticks, and I think a few let me get away with that in the past.  It would be nice if companies streamlined these kind of docs as much as possible, but it is what it is in my world.  Ironically it always seems like the little guys that need tons of attention.  My large scale global customers actually rarely bother me, other than to look over last year's paperwork that's already filled out and make changes if needed, and refile.  It's always the place that buys 500# a year that thinks he's my biggest customer that makes a stink....



#4 SQFconsultant

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Posted 20 August 2020 - 12:54 PM

We give each requester the entire audit and write with a standard letter that if amy of their questions are not fully answered by providing the attached SQF audit to contact us. No one does because the audit answers everything.


Kind regards,

 

Glenn Oster
 
GOC GROUP / +1.800.793.7042 / Food - Food Packaging - Food Storage/DC

SQF, BRC & IFS System Development, Implementation & Certification Consultants

Serving Small-to-Mid-Size Businesses | We are International - Accepting all major C-Currencies

Internal Auditor Training | eConsultant | SQF, BRC & IFS Pre-Development or Pre-Audit GAP

http://www.GlennOsterConsulting.com  -- 

 

 

60% Savings to Ownership/Senior Partners when using C-Currency "XRP" Expires: 04-NOV-20

https://glennosterco...-development-pr
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

#5 olenazh

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Posted 20 August 2020 - 01:33 PM

Unfortunately, we have to find time to fill those out to prevent possible time-consuming back & forth communications explaining why we refuse to complete a questionnaire. 



#6 QM-OS

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Posted 20 August 2020 - 02:16 PM

A little bit off topic, but still relating to supplier approval :off_topic:

 

We recently had an un-announced visit from a future customer (contract is made but start up with their product is in September/October).

This customer is a fairly large international company and exists in several parts of Europe. Notorious for being complicated and having big, tedious systems and routines everyone must follow. 

We have earlier this year, before the contract was signed, submitted our certificates, specifications and answered all their questions about food safety etc. etc. Otherwise we wouldn't have been able to sign a contract with them.

 

So, two weeks ago a QA person from their national branch and an auditor from a well known CB knocked on the door.

They ended up doing an, almost, full BRC food safety audit during 9 hours!  :helpplease:

 

At the time we were in a little bit of shock but have since then gathered our thoughts and come up with:

 

1) During a world wide pandemic, this company think it's good to send out people to perform physical audit?!  :doh: Even CB companies have restrictions against this. If they needed more information we could have sent the entire audit report for them to read and they would have been more than welcomed when things have calmed down.

 

2) Their company only had 3-4 extra requirements that wasn't covered by our BRC certification (or other GFSI standards). They could easily have made us answer/prove conformancy digitally instead of on site.

 

3) We could have rejected their visit. Our management has put a ban on allowing visitors on our site, but at the time we were so shocked and didn't think of this (also, the sales person wouldn't have been too pleased, but that's another thing). 

 

4) It was un-announced. It's a well known fact that July and August are holiday times, in this part of the world at least. Most industries shut down, or at least minimize production. Also, and again, it's a pandemic. We might not be operating because of that. What would they have done if we weren't open, or production wasn't running? One week earlier and this would have been the case (due to holiday, not pandemic). We had one production line running for them to look at. Luckily it was one that was applicable for their future product. 

 

5) They promised to send their official report asap as they had some remarks and thoughts of improvement for us. We still haven't heard from them.

 

 

Bottom line: We are certified according to BRC Food (grade AA, I might add) but apparently this means nothing to some companies and they have to perform their own audit. No matter what!    :shutup: 

We might as well stop paying for the certification and just continue with our internal audit program instead... just a thought.

 

 

Side note: it will take about 1-2 weeks to produce their contract volume which span for a year... (They didn't know what to say when we mentioned this  :lol: ) Most of our other customers are bigger in terms of production volume and money value, but nowhere near as "complicated" to work with.



#7 pHruit

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Posted 20 August 2020 - 02:37 PM


Bottom line: We are certified according to BRC Food (grade AA, I might add) but apparently this means nothing to some companies and they have to perform their own audit. No matter what!    :shutup:

We might as well stop paying for the certification and just continue with our internal audit program instead... just a thought.

 

I'm encouraged to have had a few customer audits over the last 18 months or so (not so much in the last six months ;) ) who start their audit by saying "we're not going to look at a/b/c/d because it's all covered by BRC, so this audit is only going to focus on our specific extra requirements". The audits have been genuinely interesting, plenty of good discussion etc, really quite a welcome change from the all-too-frequent "we're basically going to ask you every question that BRC did, and haven't bothered reading the full BRC report that we made you send us beforehand". I do hope it becomes a bit more common as an approach!

 

 

 


is it OK to decline these on the basis that we are audited and certified by a 3rd party and give them our certificates.

 

whats everyone's opinion on this?

 

 

The thread linked by QM-OS largely answers this question, as much as it's ever possible to. Have a chat with your sales director, see if you can find a compromise based on e.g. customer value to you, with a standard response for smaller ones and a bit more flexibility/support for those that actually make money for you.



#8 MDaleDDF

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Posted 20 August 2020 - 03:01 PM

A little bit off topic, but still relating to supplier approval :off_topic:

 

We recently had an un-announced visit from a future customer (contract is made but start up with their product is in September/October).

This customer is a fairly large international company and exists in several parts of Europe. Notorious for being complicated and having big, tedious systems and routines everyone must follow. 

We have earlier this year, before the contract was signed, submitted our certificates, specifications and answered all their questions about food safety etc. etc. Otherwise we wouldn't have been able to sign a contract with them.

 

So, two weeks ago a QA person from their national branch and an auditor from a well known CB knocked on the door.

They ended up doing an, almost, full BRC food safety audit during 9 hours!  :helpplease:

 

At the time we were in a little bit of shock but have since then gathered our thoughts and come up with:

 

1) During a world wide pandemic, this company think it's good to send out people to perform physical audit?!  :doh: Even CB companies have restrictions against this. If they needed more information we could have sent the entire audit report for them to read and they would have been more than welcomed when things have calmed down.

 

2) Their company only had 3-4 extra requirements that wasn't covered by our BRC certification (or other GFSI standards). They could easily have made us answer/prove conformancy digitally instead of on site.

 

3) We could have rejected their visit. Our management has put a ban on allowing visitors on our site, but at the time we were so shocked and didn't think of this (also, the sales person wouldn't have been too pleased, but that's another thing). 

 

4) It was un-announced. It's a well known fact that July and August are holiday times, in this part of the world at least. Most industries shut down, or at least minimize production. Also, and again, it's a pandemic. We might not be operating because of that. What would they have done if we weren't open, or production wasn't running? One week earlier and this would have been the case (due to holiday, not pandemic). We had one production line running for them to look at. Luckily it was one that was applicable for their future product. 

 

5) They promised to send their official report asap as they had some remarks and thoughts of improvement for us. We still haven't heard from them.

 

 

Bottom line: We are certified according to BRC Food (grade AA, I might add) but apparently this means nothing to some companies and they have to perform their own audit. No matter what!    :shutup:

We might as well stop paying for the certification and just continue with our internal audit program instead... just a thought.

 

 

Side note: it will take about 1-2 weeks to produce their contract volume which span for a year... (They didn't know what to say when we mentioned this  :lol: ) Most of our other customers are bigger in terms of production volume and money value, but nowhere near as "complicated" to work with.

 

Unannounced they would not have been admitted to our building, but I suppose it depends on how much you need the business, no?  We've had large scale customers requesting the same in our building for years, and they still haven't been in, and we've had smaller customers ask and plainly tell them 'never going to happen'.  We're fssc 22k certified.  If that doesn't assuage your worries, neither will coming here and seeing that we run an impeccable shop, and that the lowest guy on the totem pole takes food safety absolutely seriously.  After all, our families eat the food from here too. 

 

 

We're pretty lucky though, we're a smaller, lean and mean family owned organization, so it's easier to keep tabs on what's going on around here than it would be a factory with hundreds of employees.  I don't know if I could work in an environment like that.  I had a friend who worked at Kellogs and it sounded terrible to me....



#9 El Molino

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Posted 20 August 2020 - 08:02 PM

]I have to vet out our ingredient suppliers due to risk of known contaminants - just because they are GFSI certified I still require a COA , allergen declaration, SFCR license (Canada) and contact information updated It doesn't take much to send this file especially if you are certified to a GFSI scheme - since we are YOUR customer - we need to ensure continuity of quality and food safety. And I need to show MY Auditor that I have the information as stated in my programs on hand.
Sorry guys - please fill out / send the required documents - we all need to support our industries

 

Attached File  SOP 41 Approved Supplier Evaluation.doc   44.5KB   17 downloads



#10 pHruit

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Posted 21 August 2020 - 08:14 AM

Sorry guys - please fill out / send the required documents - we all need to support our industries

I agree that we need to support our industry, and have and will never deny any "reasonable" request irrespective of corporate policies, and I'm sure that goes for most of the members here - of all people these are surely some of the most supportive in the industry, giving up their time freely to help each other ;)

It sounds like your supplier assessment is relatively well-focussed, but please be aware of the context of the thread and the wider discussion. You may be lucky with your customers and not have experienced the insanely demanding requests that some of us are dealing with, a growing proportion of which would genuinely cost more to complete than we'd make from the ingredients. I've had customers ask for completion of documents that totalled just over 2500 separate questions/parameters (in addition to full BRC audit report, various site policies/controls etc) for a single ingredient, and then expect a completed traceability exercise back to origin (through our supplier, their suppliers, to their suppliers' suppliers) for the first delivery. Similarly we've had customers whose support expectations worked out at three sides of A4 of questions per kg of product actually supplied, which would be ok if we were selling platinum, but bulk food ingredients at £1-2 per kg makes this completely unviable.

You can see how this is not commercially sustainable unless consumers all want to start paying more for their food - in some cases we'd need to double the selling price of ingredients to cover the cost of my team's time - as no one else in the supply chain is simply going to absorb this extra cost, so it'll end up added onto to the retail price.

As a consumer myself, I'd have to wonder: what is this actually getting me?

As someone who has a reasonably good understanding of my products, processes, supply chain etc., I also have no doubt whatsoever that much of this isn't making anything safer or better quality - sadly it is largely just filling out boxes for the sake of being able to say that those boxes are filled.






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