surprise supplier audits

One of the students of a Next Level Purchasing online course asked me, as the instructor, whether I thought that “surprise” supplier audits were a good idea.  The goal of such surprise audits would be to confirm that the supplier is truly meeting its obligations, whether those obligations are things like maintaining the agreed-upon stock levels, keeping up with production schedules, complying with child labor laws, or the like.

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So, how did I answer?

I said that conducting surprise supplier audits are definitely a worthy idea.  Too many times, we hear about manufacturers getting bad publicity because of problems in their overseas suppliers’ factories and those problems would have been avoided if only there was a little physical oversight by the manufacturers’ supply chain teams.
That being said, I consider it best when you specify in the contract that you have the right to conduct surprise supplier audits without notice. You actually want the supplier to expect to be surprised.
Because the ultimate goal is not to catch your supplier doing something wrong, but to persuade your supplier to do the right things…even when you’re not watching!

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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