Unannounced audits are increasingly becoming ‘’business as usual.’’ There are many explanations for the increase in unannounced audits. A key driver is that they are perceived to increase brand protection for retailers and brand owners.
This is of course very important but has put suppliers under increasing pressure to be audit ready, everyday, leaving them very little time to be proactive in driving improvement.
Despite food safety teams having decreasing headcounts and budgets the pressure of this new regime means they must continually focus their efforts on minimising audit non-conformance’s.
Technical teams are no longer able to focus on their primary objectives and are instead evolving into compliance teams. Is getting out of this trap and driving step change improvement in food safety and brand protection deemed to be too high risk.?
Let’s explore this further.
Non-Conformance Minimisation Is Increasing In Significance
At QADEX, we speak with experienced Technical Directors & Technical Managers everyday and find a common theme of discussion is reduction of audit non-conformance’s and the drive to achieve high audit grades. It has become evident that the focus on non-conformance minimisation is higher now than it has ever been.
The effect of increasing unannounced visits on food safety teams;
Historically, most manufacturing sites had a scheduled GFSI audit which they could plan their year around.
The typical cycle started with the audit, the month after the audit focussed on clearing up non-conformance’s. Once the audit non-conformance’s were closed the technical team could look 11 months ahead knowing when the next audit was due.
This cycle provided a very useful window to proceed with executing important tasks , such as:
- Reviewing and updating parts of the quality management system.
- Getting into detailed root cause analysis behind quality issues and complaints.
- Development and coaching team members.
- Micro testing programs to identify improvements.
- Identifying emerging risks.
- Auditing suppliers.
Risk That Food Safety Teams are Evolving Into Compliance Teams
Through a combination of factors food safety teams are evolving into compliance teams. In this scenario there is a quality management system in place and the teams are so stretched that they are constantly juggling multiple priorities such as:
- Clearing non-conformances from the most recent audit.
- Juggling conflicts between different retailer requirements.
- Fighting with production to get commitment to adhering with the quality management system.
- Creating KPI reports in different formats for different customers.
- Battling with suppliers to get all supplier approval management and product specification information up to date.
- Coming to terms with the latest new requirements such as vulnerability assessments.
- Putting out frequent fires when things go wrong.
- Finding cost savings for the accountants.
- Defending the undefendable issues picked up by auditors when someone in the factory has done something stupid.
This list is not exhaustive, but the point is, as roles become ‘hybrid’ the role becomes larger, more complex and time demanding.
Is It Now Too High Risk to Aim To Drive Step Change Improvement In Food Safety & Brand Protection
At QADEX our mission statement is:
“Enabling Step Change Improvement In Food Safety And Brand Protection”
However, given all we have spoken about, is it now too high risk for technical teams to drive step change improvement? The answer is a possible YES, as change brings risk.
Changing systems and processes to enable improvements leaves the business exposed to an increase in non-conformances during the changeover process.
The consequences of a poor audit or high number of non-conformances can now include commercial implications for the food business.
The result is a state of paralysis.
QADEX has the solution!
Our off the shelf, tried and tested platform can help you manage your multiple tasks in one place with accurate real time data all at your fingertips. Our fully configurable, scaleable framework gives you a view of supplier audits due, manage non conformance’s, identify root cause and drive improvement all in one place. Imagine all the time you would save, leaving you time to be proactive and most importantly audit ready, everyday!