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Supplier Surveys - Waste or warranted

Discussion in 'Other Quality and Business Related Topics' started by Claes Gefvenberg, Aug 21, 2015.

  1. Claes Gefvenberg

    Claes Gefvenberg Moderator Staff Member

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    PaulJSmith mentioned an epic 12 tab excel spreadsheet Supplier Self Survey in the Friday Hangout thread, today, so why don't we discuss supplier surveys? My opinion about them is already well known among those who know me, but what do you think:

    Are those multi page behemoths actually of any use?
    Are the more reasonable single page or at least just a few pages versions of any use?
    Are you by any chance using other means to collect customer data?


    ...and so on...
     
  2. hogheavenfarm

    hogheavenfarm Well-Known Member

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    Do I send them? Yes. Do I trust them? Absolutely not. So why do I send them out?
    Well - my customers like to see them, for one
    But unless they are followed up with a site audit (I do that too) they are just pieces of paper. Some of the worst defects I see are from suppliers with glowing surveys (and ISO certs), who obviously have given no thought at all to the quality of the product. Conversely, some of the best products I get are from suppliers who do not even have a formal quality system.
     
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  3. Nikki

    Nikki Well-Known Member

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    I used to send them. I would spend a lot of time chasing down our Suppliers to get the surveys back completed. I finally gave up on the process, as I found it a waste of my time, and the survey was not that useful at all.

    I just request ISO certs now. Much easier to get from the customer.
     
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  4. Scott Catron

    Scott Catron Member

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    and if they don't have an ISO cert?
     
  5. Nikki

    Nikki Well-Known Member

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    We require ISO certification to be our supplier.
     
  6. Brian Vandolah

    Brian Vandolah Member

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    I actually prefer the term "questionnaire", but that's just me.

    I think that many supplier surveys exist out there which can be easily manipulated by the supplier to give the impression that they are on the level, and as a result will fly under their customers' radar unscathed. Sure, these tools have great potential for gathering information, but one does not have to be psychic to predict a one-way street of communication as a possible outcome, and unless customers request specific objective evidence (e.g. valid documentation, records, etc.) and consistently hold suppliers to task, they're either 1) taking the supplier's word for granted and/or 2) not getting anything useful out of the exchange.

    Also I believe that if surveys/questionnaires are to be used, there should be a clear distinction between those which are typically used to initially approve a supplier, and those which periodically monitor supplier effectiveness. There very well may be different rules of engagement to be followed when dealing with a long-time supplier vs. a brand new one, and such surveys/questionnaires need to be designed appropriately.
     
  7. Jennifer Kirley

    Jennifer Kirley Moderator Staff Member

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    The industry mantra has been to keep surveys short and be ready to actively avoid skewed data. I have never seen a really effective supplier self survey. Supplier performance has been most effectively monitored by my clients through a mix of product quality, on-time delivery, responsiveness to queries, etc. ISO certs are fine but there are a lot of questionable CBs out there so I would use caution with them too. A couple years ago I found one who had invented his own accrediting body after ANAB delisted him... he made a web page for the phantom accrediting body, had the pages linking to each other... :eek:
     
  8. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    My experience has been if they had an ISO 9001 cert AND were meeting our criteria, there was no need for a survey/questionnaire. If there was no ISO cert BUT they were meeting our criteria, then there was a survey/questionnaire to be completed if they were on our approved vendor list (in other words, a critical supplier). If our criteria was not being met, regardless of whether there was an ISO cert, action plans were required and this could have resulted in a site visit by us.
     
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  9. PaulJSmith

    PaulJSmith Well-Known Member

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    I dislike them tremendously. I feel they are a waste of time. We request a copy of the ISO cert from our suppliers. Lacking that, we request a copy of the table of contents of their Quality Manual. Lacking that, we simply buy from someone else.

    The survey in question that started all of this was from a customer for whom we build branded versions of some of our products, and have for a long time. Suddenly, we received this monster form with a deadline. We are not ISO 9001 certified here. We are in the process of acquiring that certification (a long story in itself). Their Supplier Self Assessment/Survey was a combination ISO9001/AS9100 questionnaire divided out over 12 tabs. The first was general information, the second a summary page with tabulated results from all of the tabs, and the rest were devoted to various topics from company ethics to Counterfeit/ESD/FOD programs to in-depth details of the various sections of the standard(s). That part was essentially identical to the detailed gap analysis we used here when we started our ISO journey. It was the most detailed waste of time I've ever encountered. It did contain the option to only complete the first three tabs with a copy of a certificate.

    I've personally never completed a supplier self assessment more than two or three pages at the most. Interspersed with other duties, it took me two days to finish this one. Just counted; 122 questions.
     
  10. Eric Twiname

    Eric Twiname Well-Known Member

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    I don't send them at all.
    If I need info regarding the supplier, I call them and fill out the info myself based on their answers over the phone.

    I can't think of a single question on a piece of paper that would be worth asking a customer to fill one out.
    If I need the answer, I would rather get it from a person verbally so I can judge whether he is tap dancing or not.
     
  11. Jim Hagenbaugh

    Jim Hagenbaugh Member

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    Not a big fan, but I have used them as an intelligence test. Ques. 1 Are you ISO registered? If Yes provide a copy of your certificate. If No please complete the form.

    You would be amazed at how many certs I received, with the other questions completed.
     
  12. Bev D

    Bev D Moderator Staff Member

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    In my opinion: waste.
    I always ask my supply chain leader to tell me the 3 suppliers that keep him up at night and the 3 he never worries about. It always amazes them that it can actually be that simple. some things just CAN'T be put into some checklist or mathematical algorithm...this is one of them...
     
  13. Claes Gefvenberg

    Claes Gefvenberg Moderator Staff Member

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    No, I wouldn't, but it does amaze me how often our own marketing people come back to me to ask why I have not filled the form in, in exactly that situation :rolleyes:. That is not all, btw: Once or twice, even the customer who sent us the questionnaire, has asked me why me "why I did not fill it in properly" when I have done so, precisely acc. to their very own instructions...:confused: When this happens, I really need to invoke every bit of diplomatic ability I possess, while I walk them through said instructions, towards the "-oh..." when the penny finally drops.

    Oh, and one for the record books: Just a couple of years ago, I received a questionnaire asking us whether we were ISO 9002 registered, and if not, were we considering to go for registration? I said no, and dropped a hint about 9002 being as dead as a dodo. I wish those run of the mill questionnaires the same fate. :D

    [​IMG]
    Dodo - Extinkt
     
  14. Joe Cruse

    Joe Cruse Member

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    Don't like filling them out, and don't like sending them, either. We do use them though. A LOT of our suppliers are small operations that would never consider obtaining registration, and also have no developed QMS. We still keep a survey on file for them, mainly to document them and some basic information on what they do for us in our system. The rest of our work in keeping them reviewed includes regular testing of the items, visits to their facilities, and review of performance. Our survey is pretty short, these days.
     
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  15. Claes Gefvenberg

    Claes Gefvenberg Moderator Staff Member

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    And would you believe it? Today I got that very question again! :confused::eek:o_O
     
  16. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    They are about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Same with customer satisfaction surveys...:rolleyes:
     
  17. Eric Twiname

    Eric Twiname Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm, Chocolate tea...how can THAT be useless?

    Granted, you'll have to lick it up off the floor and counter top and stove after the chocolate melts, but it might still be worth it.
    Just make sure you use a plastic lined tea cozy.

    You can use a supplier survey as a spoon.
     

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  18. BradM

    BradM Moderator Staff Member

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    There are two main problems with surveys from my perspective: little or no attention paid to validation and reliability measures; and the usual low response rate. My experience is people only complete them when they have something to say (on either extreme).

    Save the time and money. Buy some donuts and head to a customer's facility. Ask them for three things they like, and three things they think you should work on. Write them down.

    The information you gain (even from one customer) will be far better off than anything from those surveys, in my opinion.
     
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  19. PaulJSmith

    PaulJSmith Well-Known Member

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    THIS!!! This gets everyone's attention every time. Who doesn't like a supplier who brings in goodies?

    Way, way, way better than even a chocolate teapot melted all over a 12-tab spreadsheet.
     
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  20. zac2944

    zac2944 New Member

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    I think the surveys are rather pointless if a supplier already has a cert, but useful with they don't have formal systems. Since I don't have the resources to audit every existing and new supplier the survey gives me some basis for the maturity of the supplier's systems and just how risky they may be.

    The survey I send out says that if you have an ISO cert, please send that in and you don't need to fill in the survey. If they don't have some sort of standard system, then I ask for a Quality Manual. If they don't have that then I've got a 1 page of questions where they can give me details on what key processes they do or don't have. With this info, the risk level of the materials they supply, and any past performance data I have on the supplier I asses the overall risk for this supplier. We use this risk assessment in part to determine who we audit and who we do business with.
     
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