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Cindy Fazzi

How to Build a Strong Supply Chain Team
by Cindy Fazzi, Marketing Communications Specialist, MasterControl, Inc.

Oct 30, 2012 | Free Downloads | email | Print

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Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of his/her employer, GxP Lifeline, its editor or MasterControl, Inc.

In today's fiercely competitive global market, finding good suppliers that help create efficiencies, reduce cost, and support compliance efforts is critical to the success of manufacturers in regulated environments. Let's say you have found excellent suppliers, the question is: How do you maintain control over your suppliers and also keep good relations with them?

When an organization has the competence and ability to perform a process, but chooses to outsource the process, the organization must have its own control criteria that can be applied to the supplier.

Walt Murray, MasterControl's director of quality and compliance services, cited some practical tips for guidance on supplier controls at the AdvaMed virtual seminar held on June 6. In his presentation on "Building Internal Support for Supplier Controls," Murray said there are two factors you must consider in deciding the appropriate level of supplier control:

  • When an organization has the competence and ability to perform a process, but chooses to outsource the process, the organization must have its own control criteria that can be applied to the supplier.

  • When an organization does not have the ability to carry out a process and must outsource it by necessity, then the organization has to make sure that the controls proposed by the supplier are adequate.

Murray discussed ISO 9001:2008 and the thinking behind it in terms of implementing supplier controls. "The manufacturer is responsible for incorporating appropriate risk management activities for outsourced processes and products. It is responsible for planning and ensuring that risk control measures are appropriately applied," he said.

Murray also offered a number of tips to help build a strong supply chain team, including the following:

  • You can't get by with transactional (purchasing) relationships---cultivate preferred partner relationships with suppliers using regular communication venues.
  • Set common goals with your suppliers and agree on key performance indicators (KPI) to measure progress and success.
  • Define a well-flourishing team, with all members benefiting. The key is teamwork (i.e., storm, norm, perform), which is rooted in collaboration and trust-building.
  • Find and scale incentives that can help motivate and solidify your partnership with suppliers.

Companies, especially product brand owners, should remember that when they outsource manufacturing of their products, they are giving up control of product supply. In this case, "Brand owners must manage by influence rather than directly," said Murray. "Good contracts can help but brand owners will be far more successful if they build and nurture relationships with suppliers."

Murray has more than 25 years of experience as a quality and regulatory expert. He and the MasterControl Quality and Compliance Consulting Team provide workshops, education, and consulting services on the following core competency areas: quality event management (CAPA), QRM, SQM, QAM, and QDM.

For more information about MasterControl workshops, go to:

Cindy Fazzi, a copywriter at MasterControl Inc., writes about the life science industry and other regulated environments. Her two decades of experience as a news reporter, writer, and editor includes working for the Associated Press in Ohio and New York. She has a master's degree in journalism from Ohio State University.

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