Supply Chain Management Best Practices To Implement In Your Buying Office


Supply Chain Management Best Practices To Implement In Your Buying Office

Quality practices are essential to the success of your entire supply chain operation, knowing exactly what these practices are will help inform the steps you need to take in order to ensure success in your buying office.
There are a number of factors that affect the successful implementation of quality practices in buying offices. In this blog post, we list seven supply chain management best practices that are critical success factors in ensuring successful operational efficiency.

1. A committed organization, from the board down

Organizations that actively encourage the involvement of buying offices in decision making and welcomes input from suppliers to identify areas for potential productivity improvements have the best chance of successful implementation. IKEA as a world renown furniture retailer is a great example of involving buying offices in the decision-making process. They have tried to create an integrated system where there is clear communication through the entire operation. We know that this method of organizational commitment has had incredible amounts of success and to always keep this in mind as you conduct your organizational operations.

Supply Chain Management Decision Making.jpg

There is evidence that supply chains are often managed functionally with metrics, systems, and behaviors geared to managing the performance of a specific area. Whilst detailed functional knowledge and understanding are essential to delivering a quality product, a narrow view can lead to a potential misalignment of the different elements of the chain towards the end goal. Senior management needs to ensure that decisions which are taken at the top are not sub-optimised in the operational execution. In practical terms, this means a real transformation in how measurement systems are designed and implemented to ensure that there is a full understanding of how the business interlinks. Individual incentives and success need to be aligned for the achievement of overarching goals, not purely functional excellence.

2. Effective program management

In order to successfully implement a quality management system there are three key lessons to keep in mind:

  1. Do not be too ambitious with the timing and expectations of rapid results. New process and systems need time to mature and the flexibility to adapt and change in order to achieve the required results.
  2. It becomes easy to set lofty targets but in order to see results, it is important to align the strategic requirements with the quality system functionality.
  3. Data accuracy is critically important. It is impossible to improve what isn’t measured so understanding which measures are helping improve quality and which aren’t are essential to helping buying office achieve the standards required.

Let’s take a look at LEGO, they underwent a full restructuring of their supply chain in order to begin optimizing their functions to remain a strong global competitor. They experienced excessive supply chain challenges that resulted in millions in revenue loss. They were aware that something needed to be done. With rapid globalization, adopting a flexible and integrated supply chain and network is essential to remain a strong competitor.

Check out our comprehensive guide to learn more about implementing a global quality assurance system.

3. Consistent, pre-emptive communications.

We have already discussed the importance of data and effectively communicating it with buying offices. Below are factors to consider:

  • Supply Chain Management .jpgBe clear – This may sound like an obvious basic principle, but it’s vital to make sure the ‘narrative’ of the information comes across so that it is understood easier and its relevance and context are clear. Use a brief headline, to sum up, the information being communicated and focus on the key aspects of the data as well as why it is important and how it can be used.  
  • Tailor it – When getting across the key benefits of the project, don’t just focus on general benefits and costs. Consider the context of the buying office you are addressing and tailor it to show how to address their concerns.
  • Be personal and pragmatic – It’s often more beneficial to convey information or communicate through direct channels, either in person or via the phone as opposed to less direct communication such as emails. A personal and pragmatic approach will get faster and better results when aiming to implement change.

The above factors create transparency throughout the supply chain, more and more retailers are are beginning to harness the true power of effective and strong communication throughout the entire supply chain, from communication with material suppliers to actual manufacturers. Transparency and effective, clear communication creates a sense of trust through the supply chain which will essentially have effects throughout the entire operation.

4. Take positive action to identify and manage key risks before they become issues.

Supply chain risk management .jpgRetailers can protect themselves from potential supply chain interruptions or delays associated with suppliers’ human rights, labor, environmental, and governance practices by ensuring buying offices have effective compliance programs and robust management systems. Here are steps to manage risk:

  • Align the buying office – Ensure that there is visibility and alignment of the value chain towards the ultimate goal of supplying the customer;
  • Creating ownership beyond silos – There needs to be ownership of the whole chain, not just the buying office, in such a way which allows the risks along the chain to be tackled;
  • Skills and capabilities to execute – The skills and competencies in each buying office must be secured. This starts with the functional skills in each area to provide the depth of executing a process.                              

Supply chains have become increasingly stretched not leaving much room for fault, therefore a successful risk management strategy can increase the effectiveness of your operation and minimize any identified or perceived risks.

5. Develop a framework with baseline targets, adapted as necessary.

Supply Chain Management in Buying Office.jpgInaccurate data, existing systems infrastructure, and entrenched business practices are common barriers to the implementation of quality management systems. The importance of getting existing processes in line with new technologies and methodologies serves to highlight the role of planning, as well as supporting the use of standardized frameworks for implementation. SCOR – The supply chain operations reference model, is a management tool that is used to address, improve, and communicate supply chain management decisions within a company and with suppliers and customers of a company. This model also helps to explain the processes along the entire supply chain and provides a basis for how to improve those processes.

Let’s look at an example from Apple: The technology producer developed a set of standards which is implemented across its supply chain. The result was a supply chain more in tune with its organizational goals to reduce waste and create more sustainable products which in turn create value for its customers. In the end, they diverted more than 73,000 metric tons of waste from landfills, saved more than 3.8 billion gallons of freshwater and prevented more than 13,800 metric tons of carbon emissions.

6. Create a succession of manageable delivery milestones to maintain momentum and build confidence.

Realistic expectations are important to ensure the successful implementation of quality initiatives. Overreaching in time or scope could mean failing to implement measures that otherwise would have worked. It is important to be SMART:

  • Specific,
  • Measurable,
  • Achievable,
  • Realistic,
  • Timely.

Well defined goals, with consistent and measurable outputs, that are agreed to and attainable, that have the required resources to be successfully completed, and have specified timelines are a way to ensure the implementation plan has manageable deliverables. This process ensures that expectations are managed and that buying offices have a clear understanding of how to achieve success. Every individual needs to be made aware of the overall goals, but also the goals that relate specifically to his/her involvement in the process.

7. An actionable, owned, manageable and measurable set of business benefits

Before the WHAT comes to the WHY. It is important for buying offices to understand WHY the quality initiatives are being put in place. Getting their buy-in helps to ensure that everyone is “pulling the cart in the same direction”.  Working for a specific cause creates a banner under which the value chain can unite. Once buying offices know WHY they are doing something they are more likely to support WHAT needs to be done. It is also important to ensure that the benefits are tangible. Buying offices should be able to quantify the benefits so that they stay motivated and focused on the initiatives they are implementing.

These quality practices are essential to the success of your entire supply chain operation, begin by analyzing whether any of these are currently being implemented. Analyze to what extent they are being integrated and begin optimizing these practices to ensure successful implementation of best practices. Have you implemented any of these? How have the been of benefit to you?


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The Changing Nature Of Sourcing Builds Stronger Supplier Relationships 

As a quality assurance professional, you are likely to have noted some of the major changes in the industry and how they have related to your job specifically. The move from a simple transactional approach that did not require any amount of fostering to a more supplier-oriented relationship that requires commitment, buy-in, and collaboration between you and your buying office. It also can not go unnoted that there are also much more stringent guidelines and compliance criteria to adhere to.  With this in mind, it is important to note these changes and make adjustments where necessary. As this will keep you at the forefront of global trends and keep you competing in a global market. In this blog post, we will explore some of the historic global sourcing trends and what the changes in these trends can mean for you and your supplier relationships. Through the years the technological revolution has optimized every sector on the planet, the shift from a transactional approach to procurement to a more strategic, holistic approach to the entire supply chain, with an emphasis on stronger supplier relationships to fully optimize the entire supply chain.

The Evolution of Global Sourcing

how to build long term supplier relationships .jpgLet’s take a dive into some of the historical trends with regards to global sourcing. A brief overview will provide us with why we keep up with these trends and what these trends mean for today. They underpin the way in which we currently view and conduct sourcing, so it is important to understand how sourcing has evolved. In the early 60’s there was a great focus on purchasing although this was still a clerical based position, as we moved through to the 70’s there was an acknowledgement of the enormity of the task so it became its own department, a department solely focused on purchasing and all the procedures that go into that. As history goes, politics, the environment, and government affect every element of the economy and the manner in which it functions, shifts and changes. The oil embargo in the late 70’s pushed the agenda of purchasing into the hands of businesses, this made purchasing in the 80’s take a more strategic look into quality, quantity, timing, reliability, and strategy. As I am sure you are aware, the 90’s was all about reducing costs, sometimes at the expense of quality. Although there was also a greater emphasis on developing long-term supplier relationships, with long-term contracts. This era also birthed good supplier relationship management. The progression of technology felt its way through each decade making the systems of sourcing that much easier and a more efficient procedure, not to say that the complexities of sourcing did not grow alongside that. Today we see technology at the forefront of our sourcing strategies, allowing room for efficiency, transparency, accountability in order to work towards a more unified,  productive and strategic approach to sourcing.

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What do these changes in sourcing mean for you?

Global Sourcing Long term supplier relationship.jpgGlobal sourcing as a whole has made it essential for companies to improve their internal processes in order to continue being successful and at the forefront of global trends. This is not always possible with the speed at which technology evolves. You might find that it may be beneficial for you to adopt specific strategies to become more adaptable and dedicate time to continuously research changes that occur in order to keep on top of this ever-changing industry. Below is a list of sourcing strategy patterns that may resonate with you:
  • Technology oriented sourcing: Technology can have a transformational impact on your supply chain and your management systems, allowing for technical innovations to your sourcing strategy, will assist in keeping you ahead of global trends.
  • Cost oriented global sourcing: The goal here is to save costs. This strategy can be useful for standardized products with easily accessible suppliers.
  • Competition oriented global sourcing: A strategic competitive strategy with the goal being to gain new product ideas by looking for a broad range of good suppliers to increase competition.
  • Partnership oriented global sourcing: This approach highlights the collaborative approach of engaging suppliers in long-term partnerships allowing room for information sharing, there is also investment in the end product or outcome this ensures full client satisfaction. This, in turn, leads to constant improvements along your supply chain.
The above-mentioned strategy patterns to global sourcing assist in defining a clear vision for you and your sourcing strategies. IKEA faced a local supplier ban, which meant that local suppliers were unable to supply to them which forced them to source product outside of their country of origin, Sweden. The key thing to note here is how they fostered and took advantage of creating long term, strong supplier relationships during this time which allowed them to sustain their low-cost home furnishing position in the market. There is now more of a collaborative approach between suppliers and buying offices, there are mutual benefits, thus the emphasis on creating long-term sustainable and stronger supplier relationships to increase productivity and alleviate some of the supplier related pressures. How have these changes affected you specifically? How have you adjusted the way in which you operate to adopt these kinds of strategies?

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5 Top Tips to Motivating Your Quality Control Team

Building cohesion with your buying office and quality team may seem overly obvious or a task that may not even seem absolutely necessary in achieving your supply chain goals, but the benefits of this task are often under-estimated. Working within a team is an inevitable part of the tasks you are involved in. The supply chain key performance indicators will be what your quality control team is measured against, and this will outline whether you and your team have achieved your objectives effectively and efficiently. The intended objectives are to achieve high-quality outcomes owing to the effective and innovative functionality of the team. There are various attributes of high-performance teams and in this blog post we will take a deeper look into what the essentials are in effectively managing this team, through instilling a productive ethos within your supply chain. Learn how to cultivate a well-functioning and highly motivated quality control team by following these 5 top tips!

1. Lead from the front

quality control team needs strong leadershipA team that is led by someone who has a strong sense of leadership can drive the team towards the finish line in a successful manner and ensure that they are achieving the supply chain goals. A strong leader needs to be able to ensure that everyone is on track to achieving the goals as set out. They need to build confidence within the team. The leader is also responsible for managing all relationships and removing any issues that may hinder the effective functioning of the team. Lastly, the team needs to see you in the trenches, alongside them, digging deep. This creates a sense of solidarity and unity with your team. “Which business leaders do you look up to? Let me know in the comments below…”

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2. Create a list of goals and objectives that need to be achieved 

This is something that comes up regularly, and something that can not be stressed enough. Defining clear objectives and goals that are expressed and communicated from the top on down can have significant effects on building cohesion between you and your buying office. Clear objectives and guidance will help to manage your team’s expectations and will give your team a united way of working towards achieving those goals. This will also assist as a way of measuring their success or understanding where they may be failing and where to begin fixing it. This also provides a solid grounding of why and how they should be working together in order to ultimately achieve that.

3. Use reporting as a form of accountability

A quality control team for accountability Regular, daily reports are important for tracking team progress. The data collected and presented in your weekly meetings should align with your quality control plan and should make recommendations and adjustments where necessary. This will help you and your team understand what goals are on track to being achieved, what problems may need to be addressed and what things need a more strategic focus. The more accurate and concise your reporting is, the more focused your quality team can be in fixing potential problems and even avoiding potential risks. If your supply chain key performance indicators are not aligned with all departments of your supply chain, failure may be inevitable as each department is working to achieve fundamentally different things. One misaligned objective has far-reaching implications for the success or failure of the entire supply chain operation.

4. Internal Conflicts should always be resolved quickly

Any team will at some point hit a spot of conflict when there is a misunderstanding or your goals aren’t aligned. As the team leader, you need to be able to manage this and resolve any conflict that may arise in a timely manner, so they do not become lingering problems that begin to infiltrate into the ethos of your team and quality of the work that is produced.

5. trust your team

Quality Control team Creating a sense of trust and motivation within your team may sound too emotive for you, but everyone has a desire to be motivated. This creates a sense of ownership and a deeper sense of responsibility and control over their work. Improved team trust leads to an energized team, an energized team can lead to procedural innovation within your buying office which is exactly what you envision as a Quality Assurance director. Following these 5 tips will help you to nurture a highly motivated quality control team that are aligned with your supply chain strategy, guaranteeing increased operational efficiency for your brand! “Have you been able to implement any of these tips within your supply chain?” “How have they helped you?”  “What else is important for team building and motivation in your organization?” Let me know in the comments below.

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4 Supply Chain Solutions For Global Brands

Supply chain managers often read supply chain news and yearly trends in order to remain competitive and to determine how they can implement best practices. As we analyze these trends we often look towards global brands and to the way in which they manage their supply chains to achieve their goals. It can be hard and expensive for larger companies and organizations to quickly implement new strategies and adopt new processes in order to stay on top. To remain globally competitive there are particular strategies that are implemented to achieve those successes. In this blog post, we look at what supply chain solutions can be used to create more transparency, collaboration, and efficiency.

Supply Chain Management Challenges

Supply chain managers face a host of challenges and pressures to constantly keep up with all the moving and evolving parts. Here we list three of the biggest challenges that brands currently face that without being able to manage these effectively can have detrimental effects for you and your brand.
  • Managing Suppliers – As a supply chain manager you are responsible for knowing all there is to know about your suppliers, from how many suppliers you have to how many are needed specific to your brand. As with any supplier-related problems you need to be able to handle delays, this goes with the territory. Every interaction you have with the supplier needs to be effectively planned thought out in order to create consistency and a smooth running procedure.Supply Chain Solutions Supply Management .jpg

This can be done through clear communication, a set of agreed upon objectives to work towards, ensure that regular meetings are held in order to address any complications and progresses that are being made. Following these steps may seem obvious, but this can also be a time consuming until you are able to integrate this effectively into your strategy. This helps to build a stronger supplier relationship and will have long-term benefits for all involved.

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  • Risk Mitigation – Adopting a supply chain risk mitigation strategy may be the way to go to avoid the risks that arise. Risk mitigation strategies can include anything from supply chain flexibility to requesting internal supplier related processes to ensure all systems, procedures, and potential risks may be flagged with ample time to rectify if needs are.

Supply Chain Solutions Risk Mitigation .jpgIf we take a look at Targets mistake of launching the toddler sized Barbie SUV country-wide, the problem they faced was that their distribution centers were receiving inventory faster than they were distributing it to stores across the country. This meant that there were Target stores that had empty shelves with none of the promised items in store. They attributed this to inconsistencies between actual inventory and the computer records. A mistake like this will have cost millions in revenue loss, but also detrimental to both Target and Barbie. As a supply chain manager, it is up to you to ensure you suppliers and distribution centers operate on the same system to mitigate risks like this occurring.

  • Supplier relationship management– (SRM) works on a set of processes that drive consistent, clear interactions between the supplier and buyer, SRM programs build new capabilities that enable strategic sourcing and procurement to make the most of the supplier relationships. Effectively applying SRM as a part of your strategy can help achieve greater quality in your product, faster time to market and results for your bottom line, this owing to the successful implementation of an SRM system.
  • Management Inventory – Managing inventory is all about balance, always ensuring you have enough inventory on hand to be able to account for any unforeseen delays so that you do not go “out of stock”. On the other hand, you also do not want to have too much inventory, whether your product is perishable or your product goes out of style, a mismanaged inventory can have vast implications for both brand and supplier. Therefore an efficient inventory control system is crucial.Supply Chain Solutions managing inventory .jpg

If we take a look at Walmart, despite the precision and technologically advanced supply chain management system, they are continuously failing to restock popular products creating a disruption between the customer and their brand, also resulting in revenue loss. They have attributed this to a shortage of staff within their distribution centers, with not enough people to manage the vast amounts of inventory coming and needing to go.

Implementing these supply chain solutions effectively will assist in alleviating some of the challenges and pressures that are experienced on a daily basis. These solutions should enable you to keep up with global trends and remain a strong competitor within the industry. Do you have any thoughts or experience on specific supply chain solutions that have had impact on your supplier relationships?

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4 Supply Chain Best Practices that Regional Brands can Adopt

We live in a fast-paced environment with trends coming and going, before there’s even been a moment to catch up. As a regional quality director with increased supply challenges, one may need to begin looking to how global brands are managing their supply chains to start transforming local operations to remain a strong competitor at the top of current trends. In this blog, we look at what supply chain best practices you can begin implementing from a regional context.

Collaborative Strategic Sourcing 

This approach highlights the collaborative approach of engaging suppliers in long-term partnerships with active involvement in the decision-making process which allows room for feedback and information sharing from your suppliers. This creates an investment in the end product or outcome which ensures full client satisfaction. This, in turn, can lead to constant improvements along the supply chain. The more strategic you are with the optimization of your supply chain the more you are then able to reduce various risks that come up along the way. Decision Making supply chain solutions.jpg

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming essential for all supply chains to adopt. Suppliers who adopt CSR are taken into stronger consideration over and above those who do not. Brands increasingly want to partner with suppliers who can provide them with environmental compliances and want to know what green initiatives they run to partner with. One of the best ways to begin understanding how to implement these solutions regionally is to look at a global brand that has had its fair share of supply struggles. Herman Miller is a good example to do this with. Supply chain solutions - CSR.jpg Miller is seen as instrumental in paving the way with greening the supply chain from using a green design for their products, to ensuring they use less harmful chemicals within the products. The only way they were able to do this was through gaining supplier buy-in. They asked their suppliers to begin complying with the zero-waste policies within their procedures.

Herman Miller has used greening their supply chain as an opportunity for innovation. They have been able to create new uses for material and product that were otherwise disposed of to the benefit of their product and brand. These kinds of innovations have huge benefits as they continue to pave the way as a strong globally competitive brand with green initiatives at the fore of every process they follow.

As consumers increasingly dictate what manufacturers make, the power of adopting CSR and green initiatives as part of your strategy can have global results for your brand.

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Third Party Quality Assurance

Your supply chain is directly linked to your brand image; it is, therefore, imperative that you have an efficient supply chain management strategy. You may find that your brand could benefit from adopting third party QA. The challenges experienced along your supply chain are often full of complexities, through outsourcing all of your procedures to a compliant QA company your brand’s image is taken care of. The QA solutions that are offered are tailored specific to your needs and the ever-evolving changes.


Global brands are known to adopt various technological solutions to Supply chain solutions for regional brands .jpgeffectively manage their supply chains. Regionally there is the thought that this may be too expensive to apply. When it comes to technology, it is too easy to jump to the first software you find.  It is essential to understand what you need technology to do for you, so that you may select the type of technology that is best suited to your needs. By doing this, you are ensuring that this is not overly costly for you and maximizes its efficiency for you.

These are only a few of the supply chain best practices that can be implemented regionally. Always review your procedures to work out what will work best for you, don’t find yourself in a position where you have adopted the first solution you’ve come across with no noticeable evidence of the benefits it has for you and your quality procedures. The point is to optimize your supply chain for the best possible outcomes for your brand. What solutions do you use to optimize your supply chain?</span

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Where Regional Household Goods Brands Fail and Global Brands Succeed

Over the years there have been shifts in the supply chain, where gaining a competitive advantage through your entire supply chain can be essential to your success. It has become virtually impossible for a company on its own to reach this position. Today we see the power of the market in the customer’s hands, therefore without an agile, flexible supply chain, you may not be able to keep up with the demands of the market. It is an ever-changing landscape, that is defined no longer by the designer. In this blog post, we take a look at where regional household goods brands fail and what successes they can take from global brands.

Regional Failures

There are many reasons that can cause a regional retailer to experience supply chain failures, here we dive into a few of these reasons:

1.Risk Management strategies – Risk is a part of any and every supply chain. Regional retailers often put out fires all along the supply chain instead of preventing fires thr ough risk prediction. Many companies do not understand the value of having a risk management strategy, there is often the misconception that it is a costly strategy to have in place, while there is a cost to implementing this. Take into consideration what risk can cost you, more or less than having a strategy in place? This is multi-faceted and requires a strategic approach.

2.Delivery delays – With customers defining market trends and the speed at whichRegional household goods brand - delivery delays.jpgthey need products. You may find yourself at a loss with a delivery delay. Contingency plans are essential to ensuring your product gets to market. A contingency plan allows you to manage this without causing your brand any damage. These kinds of delays cause customer dissatisfaction pushing them to buy your product elsewhere.

3.Inventory Management – Inventory management is a complex procedure from ensuring you have enough inventory on hand to ensure you don’t run out of inventory in your warehouse. Both sides of this coin can have detrimental effects for your brand. Regional brands do not often know how to manage this balance effectively rendering the product either unwanted or leaving customers unsatisfied. Regionally inventory management is often done manually; this causes inconsistency with too much room for human error. This kind of procedure can often be costly and time-consuming. 

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Global Success

Global brands, have much larger and more complex supply chains to navigate and therefore face the same potential failures regional brands do, but this larger, more complex web of intricacies requires an efficient, well communicated operating procedure for every step of the process.

Regional household goods brand risk management.jpg1.Risk Management – Global brands take every procedure into account when understanding possible areas of risk. From sourcing to logistics to inventory management, each of these areas affects one another. If there is a problem with sourcing, it inadvertently affects the logistics of the entire operation. Therefore a brand such as Amazon needs to have a Risk Mitigation strategy that spans the entire operation.

An example of a risk strategy would be the adopting visibility tools that are used to keep track of various shipments in real-time that also enable you to take action in the case of a delay.

2.Delivery Delays – Global brands use software with real-time updates on their shipments. This technology helps to identify any problems or deficiencies in a timely manner. While this may not be preventative, it does make sure there are no surprises. To prevent these kind of mishaps, using a Transport Management System which promotes cross network communications.  

 3.Inventory Management – When it comes to managing inventory on a global scale it is safe to say that softwareRegional Household goods brand - inventory management.jpg should be used. Automating this processes allows for transparency and an up to date inventory procedure.

Zoho Inventory is software that enables you to manage and keep track of your orders and inventory with real-time updates, keeping you ahead of your supply chain.

The above challenges don’t have to mean the end for your brand.

Begin assessing which of these strategies will provide the biggest benefit to your supply chain, while some of them may cost you to put in place, ask yourself whether or not it may be worth it in the long run. We cannot predict the future or the way in which supply chains function under pressure, but you may want to find yourself in a position where you have the best possible strategies to deal with whatever challenges may come up, minimizing the potential risks your entire operation may face.

The above-mentioned failures are to enlighten the perception around these specific strategies, with clear communication, an effective strategy and a plan of action you are likely to begin addressing those pressing supply chain challenges that you face.

“Are you a brand that has struggled with the above mentioned?”

“Were you able to address your challenges successfully?”

Tell me in the comments section below

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Quality Assurance Procedures That Can Be Optimized For Supply Chain Efficiency

Do you need to optimize your current quality assurance procedures? Are you unsure of how to get started? Determining the current position of your quality systems may be a difficult one to get your head around with complex procedures to analyze and the newest technology that is just too expensive to get your hands on…In this eBook we look at how you can optimize your current systems through strategy and thorough analysis and planning, that will put your brand in a position for opportunity and growth.

Download our FREE guide on optimizing your quality assurance systems. Doing this will not only increase your brand’s product quality, but it will also enhance the credibility of your brand increasing your competitive advantage.

Check out our comprehensive guide on optimizing your quality assurance systems. 

In this guide you will be able to:

  • Clearly define the quality challenges that you are currently facing
  • Clearly define solutions that you can apply to your current systems for improvement
  • How can you implement the solutions into your quality systems
  • We also take a dive into how global brands are adopting different quality solutions and what things we can learn from them

You don’t have to spend a fortune trying to get the latest and greatest technology to plug into your supply chain.

It’s all about being strategic and analyzing the unique challenges and needs within your supply chain and then adopting a technology to suit exactly that.

quality assurance procedures

IKEA, for example, needed a way to reduce their supply chain costs, so they did, through analysis and planning they came up with a concept called Cost-per-touch, this method is based on the number of “touches” a product receives throughout the entire supply chain process right up until a customer buys the product. This concept allowed them to reduce their costs, but also helped them achieve a better inventory management strategy.

This concept through strategic planning and analysis was also innovative in its application.

It will be important to keep an eye on what global brands are doing so that you may make continuous improvements to your supply chain to maintain that competitive advantage through a fully optimized QA procedures.


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A Supply Chain Management System For An Optimized Supply Chain

Global retailers have large complex supply chains, to efficiently manage these they have to adopt a variety of tools and software to ensure an effective supply management system. In this blog post, we take a look at a few of the tools global brands use to manage this supply chain complexity.

1. Technology

Using technology as part of your supply chain management is becoming essential to remaining globally competitive. It can be used to for real-time tracking of your orders, to real-time inventory updates. The analytics that you receive enable visibility, early forecasting of potential risks and early identification of systems that may not be working. Technology is used to simplify your supply chain, thus reducing operational expenses and overall timing.

  • Dako, a UK Furniture retailer uses Transportation Management Software (TMS), such as STREAM which is a particular technology that can be used to track shipments, map routes and also keeps track of inventory in real-time, minimizing supply chain challenges.

Supply chain complexity - supplier partnerships .jpg2. Strategic partnerships

By creating an emphasis on supplier relationships, it becomespossible to establish collaboration with the moving parts of the supply chain. This is done through clear communication of goals and expectations, through stakeholder buy-in which creates a vested interested in the outcome of the quality of the product. This, in turn, fosters a relationship which results in system innovation and supply chain transparency.

  • Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) is driven by consistent, clear interactions between the supplier and buyer, SRM programs build newcapabilities that enable strategic sourcing and procurement. Effectively applying SRM as a part of your strategy can help achieve greater quality in your product and a faster time to market.

Supply chain complexity - warehousing.jpg

3. Inventory management tactics

Managing inventory is all about balance. Making sure that you don’t have too much inventory thus face the risk of increased storage costs and a longer time to market having an effect on your return. You also need to make sure you don’t have too little inventory forcing people to shop elsewhere for a similar product. Both sides of the equation can have detrimental effects for your brand. Here we look at two inventory management tactics that are applied by two of the biggest global retailers:

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  • Cost per touch:  This strategy is employed by IKEA, and is centered around the idea that each time a product is touched within the supply chain process, it is charged accordingly. This tactic empowers the customer and also brings them into inventory management. This system has encouraged customers to go as far as collecting their product from the nearest IKEA warehouse as well as building their item at home, therefore reducing the number of times the product was touched and reducing the end costs.

`supply chain complexity quality control .jpg4. Quality Control

Often times the quality department or team is over-looked when trying to optimize the supply chain for procedural efficiency. As a good quality control manager can help to minimise human errors within the production processes. The aspect of quality affects nearly every step in the supply chain process from raw material inspection to the final product. You may want to take into consideration the value of these departments working together as they can provide overall supply chain process efficiency, saving you time and procedural expenses.

5. Focus On Core Competencies

Your brand may not have the expertise to effectively manage quality systems. Therefore it may be of benefit to outsource the management of your quality procedures to a trusted quality provider. There are many benefits to this approach from the time it takes to testing a product as they have the right technical skills which has a faster turnaround time to also having great cost benefits.

The above tactics help reduce the amount of moving parts that encompass the supply chain, with fewer moving parts, one can reduce potential risks and costs over time. This creates an efficiency and a level of quality in the supply chain that was never there before.

A supply chain management system consists of complex procedures; the above tools seek to simplify these through greater visibility and transparency creating a level of quality and efficiency that is globally competitive. Which of these tools have you adopted? What is the greatest efficiency that you have experienced through adopting any of these tactics?


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How purchasing departments benefit from better quality management systems

The harshest judge of the quality of a product is your customers. As a households goods quality manager, it is your responsibility to ensure the systems and procedures you have in place, run as smoothly and effectively as possible. 

In this blog post, we look at the role of a quality manager and the benefits of adopting quality management systems as a part of your supply chain strategy.

It may be necessary, to begin with, an appropriate definition of the role of a quality manager to help put perspective on how they can assist purchasing departments with their quality systems;

A quality manager’s role is “concerned with monitoring and advising on the performance of the quality management system, producing data and reporting on performance, measuring against set standards.”  

Understanding the role of a quality manager leads into understanding what a quality management system (QMS) is:

“A QMS is a set of policies, processes and procedures required for planning and execution of a product or service.”

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The purchasing department of any organization has many functions from procurement of raw materials all the way through to the load testing of various household goods through to policy compliance. Each of these components requires the leadership and technical skill and know-how of a quality manager to ensure the entire procedure is run effectively and according to set quality standards.

Quality managers can improve the quality systems within purchasing departments by ensuring there is a set of quality standards and metrics that need to be achieved, these standards can be anything from load testing results, to the delivery times of material or of the end product. It is essential to work closely with purchasing departments to develop relationships and collaborate with suppliers. This will have results for the quality of your systems and your end product.

Check out our comprehensive guide on optimizing your quality assurance systems.

ISO 9001: 2015

ISO 9001: 2015 is an example of a QMS, which is a set of requirements a supplier needs to comply with to consistently meet specific requirements and that they also meet a specified set of regulations.

Applying this ISO standard can have significant benefits for your brand, let’s take a look at some of the key benefits it can have:

1. Improvement of your credibility and image

Quality management systems .jpg Every brand strives to increase their credibility within the global market, this standard can help you maintain that competitive advantage, as suppliers who have this standard are often selected over and above those who do not.

2. Improvement of customer satisfaction – At its very core this standard is about the improvement of customer satisfaction, through thorough planning and efficient implementation where the end user is satisfied with the functionality, quality of the product to the way in which it was delivered.  

3. Better process integration – By understanding and analyzing your processes you will clearly be able to find improvements that need to be made. These are based on hard that is collected to make these improvements to your procedures.

4. Improve your evidence for decision making – Evidence-based decision-making is based on hard data. Decisions can then be made based on data which can allow for proper allocation of resources and in turn having cost benefits for your brand.

5. Create a continual improvement culture – By instilling a continuous improvement cycle within your buying office, you will not only increase your outputs, but also the quality and standard of your procedures and end product, and also creating that customer satisfaction.

A Quality Management system is essential to ensuring quality household good products and the processes that come from your purchasing departments.

This will provide accountability and sustainable relationships with your suppliers as they strive to meet a set of global standards. This can have far-reaching implications for your brand.

What is your experience in adopting a QMS within your purchasing departments?



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10 things you will learn from a third party quality provider

Do you feel that no matter how much you plan, the maze of complex logistics is always catching up with you? Successfully running your quality systems is key to the success of your entire operation.

As you try to stay on top of your logistics, resources, planning and strategies within your supply chain, you may have never considered the hiring of a third party quality provider. In this blog post, we endeavor to look at how you can benefit from hiring a third party quality provider:

1. Expertise – A third party quality provider has a wide array of clients creating an extensive network and a wealth of knowledge that will all be put into providing you Third party quality provider - expertise.jpgwith efficient quality procedures. They are also up to date with the latest developments in the industry along with the best practices to follow. As a result, you have all the expertise and knowledge about your quality procedures at your disposal; this can be invaluable to your quality and logistics procedures.

2. Efficiency – A third party quality provider has the infrastructure to manage all the logistics you require from all the certifications and documentation to the technology that is needed to ensure you receive a delivery on time as well as a product of a high quality. Apart from just managing the logistics, they also come with all the technical experience from having local product inspectors and an extensive network to create that efficiency in the logistics that you require.  

3. Technology –  The use of appropriate technology and software to optimize your supply chain may be too expensive to have in-house, therefore leveraging the technology that a third party quality company can provide may be the way to go. They can save you time and minimize your risks through inventory tracking, warehouse management and can furnish you with quality compliance certification according to your specification.

4. Accountability – Upon meeting with your provider, it will be important for you to agree upon a set of expectations that will need to be achieved, a document like this will help to hold you both accountable to the operating procedures and their successes. It will also be important for your quality provider to show whether or not they can deliver on these set expectations.

5. Innovation – With their expertise, they are able to meet and fit your needs in the way they see best fitting allowing them room to innovate to achieve the best possible results for you and your operating procedures.

6. Optimization – Along with the technology and software that they use, they are able to identify potential risks before they happen and are able to continuously make improvements along the way. Continuous optimization is key to the success of any quality and supply chain procedures. 

7. Network – The network an outsourced organization has can be extensive, providing your company with the best value for your money as well as a tried and tested networks to conduct your operation effectively and efficiently.   

8. Risk reduction – Through the resources and technology they have, they are able to minimize the risks you would normally experience. They will have the ability to identify potential risks early on, allowing enough room to mitigate if needs be.

9. Flexibility – Outsourcing has the flexibility to adjust to the rapid changes, movements, and complexities that are experienced within the supply chain. To manage those kinds of changes internally may even be the cause of risks within the supply chain. 

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10. International Logistics – International export and import require a fair amount of logistics and management to make sure your product gets to you safely and in good condition. An outsourced company is capable of managing all of your international logistics from factory inspections and compliances to the testing of your product internationally. 

Outsourcing your quality and logistics procedures will have effects for your bottom line but can also create the opportunity to enhance your brand’s quality, credibility and efficiency helping you to maintain a competitive advantage within the market. As you consider your current logistics and quality processes you may look at the benefits of outsourcing this next time round.

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