Preparing for an audit

checkmark_blueA previous Quality Q & A newsletter article featured tips for audit preparation.   In the reprinted content below, Pro QC’s Supplier Development Manager discusses how each party can expedite the process.

 

Preparation for a factory audit can be broken down by responsibilities of the client, supplier (factory) and third party (Pro QC). Communication and documentation are key actions that increase the likelihood objectives are met.

The Client:  

  • Inform the supplier to let them know an audit will be scheduled and provide additional contact details as available. Consider the length of time requested by the supplier, in addition to any initial hesitations noted.
  • Evaluate the expectations of the audit and relevant necessary components that should be incorporated into an on-site checklist or other evaluation tool.
  • It is not considered appropriate to surprise a supplier with a visit to perform an audit.

The Supplier:

  • Inform related internal people about the scope, agenda and contents of the upcoming audit.
  • Complete and submit the Supplier Profile and Booking form that will be supplied to you by the Pro QC Project Coordinator.

Pro QC International (3PQ):  

  • We work with the client to understand their expectations and the product and specific standard(s) involved.
  • We select a suitable audit checklist or develop a customized one if necessary.
  • We select the auditor best suited to the requirements noted and provide him/her with necessary training and recommendations to follow.
  • We provide an audit notification letter along with an agenda of the audit, the booking form fro scheduling and the Supplier Profile form to the supplier to inform them of the audit activities so that they can inform and prepare their internal attendees.

Selecting suppliers using a grid analysis

Let’s say you need to find a manufacturer for a new product.  It’s easy to look at the cost and weigh heavily in that direction.  However, this often results in regrets later when shipment delays and other quality issues occur.

A useful quality tool for making such decisions is the Grid Analysis.  It allows you to effectively compare various options using factors that can be weighted to adjust for relevance.

Example: A 3rd party quality provider has provided systems audits relating to three options you are considering for manufacturing in China.  You’ve determined the most critical decision factors include:

  • Quality
  • Timeliness
  • Communications
  • Management
  • Cost

Who do you pick?:

All things equal…

GridAnalysis_NoWeights

Using weights…

GridAnalysis_Weights

It’s not always the lowest cost provider that proves to be the best choice!

Grid Analysis is the simplest form of Multiple Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA), also known as Multiple Criteria Decision Aid or Multiple Criteria Decision Management (MCDM). Grid Analysis helps you to decide between several options, where you need to take many different factors into account.

To use the tool, lay out your options as rows on a table. Set up the columns to show the factors you need to consider. Score each choice for each factor using numbers from 0 (poor) to 5 (very good), and then allocate weights to show the importance of each of these factors.

Multiply each score by the weight of the factor, to show its contribution to the overall selection. Finally add up the total scores for each option. The highest scoring option will be the best option.  (www.mindtools.com)

The sampling app you’ve always wanted… ANSI Z1.4 2003 made easy

ansi_samplingPro QC’s team of technical engineers has developed an Android and iOS application that takes the guesswork out of the accept or reject determination of an on-site quality inspection depending on customizable major and minor AQLs (Acceptable Quality Limits). This application has been incredibly useful for our team on-site, in addition to many of our clients. For convenience, we also have a web-based application.

More on defect classifications here.

To learn more about ANSI Z1.4 2003 sampling, a previous article discusses the topic in more detail.

Your shipment is rejected, what now?

quality-control-rejected-mdReceiving a failing inspection report is never a happy occasion   Shipment delays, rework costs, etc. all create tension among all parties involved.  But, put into perspective, the end result can be positive.   When you see the “reject” status on the report, stay calm.  Attack the problem with three questions:

Why did it fail?

Review the report carefully to determine what the issue(s) are. Was the failure of the result of one or more problems? How close were the defects from being within the AQL (Acceptable Quality Levels)?

How are we going to fix this?

Based on the information in the report, you can evaluate whether or not the product specifications should be modified and confirm that you’re comfortable with the AQL.

The factory is usually working on resolving the issues when the inspector reviews the results.  A reinspection is often requested to confirm that everything has been resolved.

How do we prevent it from happening again?

Communication with the factory is key when planning corrective action.  Identifying the root cause of the issue and documenting a resolution should prevent similar occurrences.

Intern insight

Before our intern, Melanie Rinehart, left for China, I had the pleasure of meeting with her.  Our Managing Director has a keen eye when it comes to recruiting passionate individuals.  Melanie is no exception.

For the past several weeks, Melanie has been training in our Shenzhen office.  I wanted to reach out to her again for insight into her experience.

You recently moved from Tampa, Florida to Shenzhen, China for an internship with Pro QC. Having been to China before and studied the language in college, do you find there are significant cultural differences?

I definitely feel that the cultures in China and the West can be almost overwhelmingly different at times. The cultural differences between China and the West are nowhere more pronounced to me than in a business/school setting. The hierarchical structure of Chinese society can leave a foreigner feeling uncomfortable and out of place without the proper cultural training. Expectations from the company and staff of an organization may vary widely from those in the West. 

For instance, a Chinese co-worker could expect a lot less from a foreigner in China, not only because of their Mandarin proficiency or lack-thereof, but also because being an intern in general carries a different weight in Chinese culture than in Western culture.

To avoid complications and frustration, I try to read as many cultural studies and foreign professionals’ journals of times spent in China as possible; Eric Shepherd has published many great articles and books about cultural differences to be aware of in China.

What is it like working with Pro QC in the Shenzhen office?

Working for ProQC in the Shenzhen office is much different from the last internship I had in China. I mentioned above that expectations in Chinese businesses are different than in Western businesses, but to be honest working for ProQC has been a more “Western” experience than I have had previously. It is important to take each case individually and not develop any stereotypes from reading about the cultural differences. The best thing about working in the Shenzhen office so far is that the staff has been really welcoming, and I have been given the opportunity to jump right into the actual work.

What do you miss the most about living in the United States?

This is my third time in China, and I have been here for one month at this point. What I always miss most about the United States is my friends and family. Moving far does not seem so daunting at first, but when you arrive in a country whose time zone is twelve hours different it can be very difficult to stay in contact with friends and family as much as you would like. Developing a network of friends in your new city can be very helpful and setting designated times to talk with friends and family is important.

 What is your favorite place to eat and favorite thing to do in Shenzhen?

There are so many great places to eat in Shenzhen! Having been to Beijing and Qingdao before, I can really appreciate the “openness”.  Because Shenzhen was opened up economically in the 70s during Deng Xiaoping’s economy reform, the city is fairly new but also a huge center for foreign direct investment (FDI). FDI has brought many ex-pats from all over the world, so the food is just as eclectic in Shenzhen as it is in the United States. 

My favorite restaurant so far is definitely a small Muslim restaurant in Shekou where you can eat the best 鸡蛋炒拉面 egg fried noodles that I have found in China. The Xinjiang province of China is the origin of the hand pulled noodle, and they are famous worldwide.

One of my favorite things to do in China is to shop. The market itself is a cultural experience. The technology market, iPhone case market, handbag market, and clothes market are all more than five stories of shops. Bargaining with sales associates is a great experience in China, especially if you learn the best techniques from Chinese themselves.

Do you have any words of advice for others looking at internships abroad?

Looking for a job or internship abroad is an interesting challenge. It is important to stay competitive, culturally adaptable, and at least somewhat fluent in the local language.

I have found that my best asset I have for studying and working abroad is flexibility. It is important to know that to be competitive, you have to be willing to take risks as an individual. Each time a business hires a new employee they are taking a risk, and in order to make that risk worth their while, I feel it is important to show that you too are willing to go out on a limb. Plus there is the added benefit of travel, and your company will know that they can count on you to be a reliable asset.