Much like the systems it governs, an audit management system must also be integrated so that, instead of auditing just the specific system elements, an organization can audit the processes to better eliminate overlap. Take CAPA, for example. This is a common element present in many systems. However, there is no need to audit five times for five different systems. Using a process-based approach to audit management, an organization can conduct just one audit for CAPA that will apply throughout all systems, eliminating the need to run a duplicate CAPA audit for each and every system.
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While integrating an audit program is important to ensuring compliance throughout the system, it is beneficial for an organization to integrate supplier audits as well. A supplier is essentially an extension of the brand owner, and if a product fails to meet quality standards, it is often the brand owner that must incur any resulting liability.
To mitigate this risk, the integrated FSMS can schedule and execute continuous supplier audits. Much like an internal auditing program, integrating supplier audits will ensure that all agreed-upon procedures and practices are being followed exactly, promoting excellence and compliance in supplier performance. By incorporating an auditing program to extend to the supply chain, an organization is able to review each supplier’s efficiency and gain visibility into quality and safety in the supply chain. As a result, audit findings can contribute to a supplier’s overall safety score and affect the supplier rating, providing a better gauge of supplier performance.
This ability to ensure compliance beyond an internal scope is important; however, audit management is not the only aspect of an integrated system that extends to suppliers.
Suppliers can be considered the backbone of the food and beverage industry. With GFSI and other initiatives putting even stronger emphasis on high quality products, the ability to ensure that a supplier is providing the highest quality for the organization becomes essential. To do this, it is beneficial for an organization to integrate suppliers into their existing safety processes. The goal of supplier management is to keep information secure while letting suppliers participate in the process. Using integration tools, an organization can facilitate supplier interaction in the process while built-in security tools limit the level of interaction to those areas relevant to the supplier. Allowing suppliers this level of visibility lets them participate in the process by feeding information directly into the management system. This reduces the time it takes to note and correct quality issues in the supply chain. Similarly, security tools help to protect information that must stay within an organization’s four walls.
An organization must integrate the best practices associated with business processes in order to effectively bring the supply chain into the FSMS. These include:
Using integration tools, an organization can facilitate supplier interaction while built-in security tools limit the level of interaction to those areas relevant to the supplier. Allowing suppliers this level of visibility lets them participate in the process by feeding information directly into the management system.
- Specification management: Part of integrating the supply chain is ensuring that the right materials are managed within products. Specification management helps to organize and manage consistency in products. Using a master bill of materials, organizations can manage the raw materials, ingredients, and packaging types for a product line, as well as identify any overlap from one product to the next. This capability helps to identify the costs for each supplier’s raw materials and to determine the costs per unit for each product line. It is also beneficial for inventory control, because it enables an organization to identify the quantities that are needed for each product, as well as to note when inventory is running low, based on the organization’s current demand.
- Supplier corrective action: Corrective action is the heart of a good safety system. Extending corrective actions to suppliers is critical to maximizing visibility into supply chain safety. Integrated systems with tiered security enable suppliers to participate in the corrective action process while maintaining security.
- Nonconformance tracking: Incoming raw materials need to be inspected and then managed properly if any defects or issues are found. Tools like nonconforming material tracking provide the necessary workflow and reviews to determine the disposition type of a nonconforming material. This helps to maximize the quality of the materials an organization receives, while providing better visibility into the cost of poor supplier quality.
- Supplier rating: The quality of the supplier goods is critical to the success of a product. By incorporating the supplier rating system into the FSMS, an organization is effectively quantifying the performance of its suppliers. This helps to determine which suppliers provide the best materials for a product and allows suppliers to improve their own quality and safety processes in order to increase their supplier ratings.
Integration to this level ensures that suppliers are fully in step with the enterprise, which helps create a level of visibility that promotes common and cooperative quality and safety processes down the supply chain.
The integrated food safety management system streamlines compliance with the GFSI food safety standards. It consolidates the common processes, improves visibility into quality and safety, and boosts employee productivity. Risk-based filtering tools enable an organization to focus on those events that pose the highest risk to the business by helping to conquer data paralysis. Enterprise reporting helps to consolidate all information for better trending and data analysis across the enterprise, and integrating internal and supplier audits ensures compliance in all processes and procedures.