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Explore This IssueOctober/November 2013
Having a crisis management plan assures your company protects its consumers, your company’s reputation, and brand, and avoids or minimizes financial implications in event a crisis were to occur. Every minute counts and how you respond to a crisis is critical to the outcome. Possible issues to a professional crisis response are lack of time to prepare, over or under reaction, multiple stakeholders, potential conflicts of interest, and media attention. With time being of the essence when investigating a potential recall, having the right technology is key to gathering pertinent facts to aid with the decision making process of a recall or crisis.
Designing the IT system to support the relevant business information your company needs is important. Records of supplier conformance may include specifications, lot coding details, certificates of analysis, quality testing, third-party audits, certificates of insurance, and supplier compliance or performance history. These programs require ongoing updates to assure records are current. Some IT systems have the capability to notify suppliers when key documents are expired or missing, allowing more time for quality or supply chain professionals to perform other key duties. This can also assure a company that with time differences across the globe, relevant information is shared instantly. As food companies rely on a global supply chain, it is more efficient to communicate relevant information as it may relate to a product recall or withdrawal utilizing a system of this design. These systems provide a documented notification time, persons notified, response time, person responding, or other designed records related to a product recall or withdrawal via email, text message, and phone messaging.
Identifying those who have not responded can be escalated to company management for follow up as necessary to maintain rapid communications and responses. It is especially helpful to have reports that can be produced to share with regulators as part of a company’s crisis management program. These documents are critical when determining how effectively the company has responded to the crisis. Knowing who, when, and how the communications take place in real time are vital to company viability.
Many companies use trend reports for monitoring customer and consumer complaints. Having established trigger points designed into the system allows for escalation of serious food safety issues to be sent to a predetermined group and senior management. In conducting a root cause analysis investigation to an upward trend in complaints, review of internal production records, and maintenance schedules is necessary to determine if the company has identified the root cause and taken necessary corrective actions to prevent them from occurring again. If the company has appropriate IT systems, this information can be made available in minutes. When a delay in getting to these records occurs, companies may see escalation from an issue that can be handled and contained to a crisis.
Having the right technology is key to gathering pertinent facts to aid with the decision making process of a recall or crisis.
A company needs to also consider its supplier history and trends when designing an IT system. Having the ability to monitor supplier performance can provide insight to a potential issue and prevent it from entering the company’s production system. The system should include a sampling and testing plan for materials as they are received into the warehouse. Hold control programs for products pending test results and product noncompliance should also be included in the system. No products ought to be released until all testing has been completed and verified to be compliant.
Companies that still ship product pend-ing test results or that do not require testing prior to shipment can cause a major issue if the lab results indicate a problem and the product in question has been used upstream in the supply chain. Having a properly designed IT system will provide visibility to test results, pending tests, and controls for a good hold and release program.