6 common audit failures for suppliers to avoid

13 May 2018
Article by Achilles

Sometimes suppliers will need to undergo an audit as part of the pre-qualification process for an Achilles community.

Our audits and assessments are aligned with our pre-qualification questionnaires to enhance the data validation of key supply chain risk areas. The scope of a company’s audit varies according to company profile and the requirements of your industry.

Audits are designed to provide buyers with peace of mind that their suppliers are as compliant, capable and competent as they claim to be to help them effectively manage supply chain risk.

But with a large amount of information under scrutiny, what are the most common mistakes that suppliers make during audits? And how can these be addressed? Here’s our top six:

1. Lack of preparation
If you are new to audits, then you should book your audit in as soon as possible to ensure your company is fully qualified for buyer requirements to be visible in buyer searches. For those renewing, you need to ensure that you have booked your audit around 15 days before the expiry date of your current one.

Once your audit date has been confirmed, we’ll send through guidance to give you an idea of what to expect and what you need to prepare for the audit.

Arguably the worst thing you can do ahead of an audit is not read through these documents, leaving yourself unprepared for what’s to come. This is also more likely to result in an overall failure or a low score. So read through the audit preparation documents and make sure you have documentation, the relevant staff members and space for the auditor on the day.

2. Misunderstanding the audit criteria
You need to make sure you have a sound understanding of the audit questions and criteria.

Failure to know exactly what evidence you need to prepare to demonstrate compliance will lead to time and resources being wasted, as well as the potential for your company to actually fail the audit or achieve a low score.

During the audit, you’ll be required to provide information relating to everything from your health and safety management systems, corporate social responsibility arrangements and other areas like your environmental systems and how your company is managing its environmental impacts.

If there’s anything you’re unsure of, don’t hesitate to contact a member of our team for advice or clarification – it’s what we’re here for.

3. Being complacent
Some businesses might think that they don’t need to be audited and that the outcome of the assessment doesn’t really matter – they couldn’t be more wrong.

As a supplier, it’s vital that you prove you are who you say you are and that your company has actively implemented your management systems in line with the information in your pre-qualification questionnaire.

If this isn’t clear, buyers will want to know, as their business’ reputation could be on the line.

Nor should suppliers get complacent about their scores because buyers monitor audit results and improvements. Anglian Water for example, set joint improvement targets for suppliers working on the AMP5 MEICA framework as they noticed that the scores of some of the contractors were weaker than expected while others seemed to have reached a plateau. It’s important for suppliers to be proactive when it comes to audits – buyers will appreciate this.

4. Not having the right information or people to hand
It’s vital that suppliers make sure all the right people are available to answer questions regarding the audit and evidence is available for the auditor on the day.

On the day, if you are unable to locate specific documents or there’s been a lack of internal communication and not everyone’s sure of what’s going on, it’s going to be a long day for everyone involved.

However, it’s not just in the run-up to the audit that you need to be making sure you have all this information to hand. You should be keeping documents up to date all year round so they are relevant to your scope of services.

If you’re ever unsure of a particular document’s location at any time, not just right before an audit, try to track it down so you’re as prepared as you can be when the audit day actually arrives. Or, do you have all the necessary documents available like documented procedures detailing arrangements? Worth checking out where you might have a weak spot.

The same goes for product codes. Make sure that the product codes you have selected are appropriate and reflect the products and services you offer.

5. Not recognising the benefits of the audit process
As all of the information validated during the pre-qualification and audit process is later made available to buyers within your industry, this can bring numerous benefits, including:

• The opportunity to put your firm forward for tenders with buyers you wouldn’t normally have the chance to work with.
• Showing buyers that you’re a reputable company that won’t put their own reputation at risk.
• Demonstrating an understanding of industry requirements to drive high performance and continuous improvement.
Our audits are highly-respected in the supply chain management world, so having this validation on your record could help to boost your business’ profile.

6. Thinking only the law is important
It’s also important to remember that it’s not just the law that’s important in terms of the audit process.
You need to comply with all parts of the audit protocol, regardless of whether they are the law or if they have simply been set out by buyer members of the industry community.

Depending on the community that you’re applying to join, the industry may have additional requirements for its suppliers that you will be required to meet.

By taking your audit preparation seriously, your business is much more likely to thrive.


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