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Customer satisfaction is the goal of all Quality Assurance efforts when establishing a comprehensive supply chain strategy.
Of course, product quality has always been at the top of customer demand. However, as a central selling point, supply chain ethics and company transparency are on the rise.
So, quality and transparency are cornerstones to customer satisfaction...but aren't frequent Quality Control checks enough to ensure all of this?
Perhaps, if a company is willing to waste its resources on excessive third-party testing, frequent product rework, and even complete product scrapping.
We will look at how Quality Assurance provides more efficient safeguards against supply chain risks, as well as key elements that contribute to a successful Quality Assurance program.
The Quality Assurance (QA) process establishes all product quality and compliance specifications, along with best practice guidelines for suppliers, farms, factories, warehouses, and shippers--all during the development stage of production.
An additional role of Quality Assurance is establishing performance benchmarks for various processes throughout the supply chain to better understand current performance levels, as well as specific improvement opportunities moving forward.
The old adage, "high risk, high reward," may have felt more relevant in a time when production safeguards just weren't as sophisticated or readily available as they are now.
Today's business philosophy has changed. Supply chain management is inherently full of risk, and the greatest rewards come from carefully managing those risks.
The smartest way to combat risk is to 1) recognize its potential sources and consequences beforehand, and 2) have a set of procedures in place whenever production cycle disruptions arise.
Let's take a look at some common and potentially damaging risks.
Production defects detected through quality control (QC) inspections can be the result of a number of root causes.
Through Quality Assurance planning, preemptive analysis can provide on-site managers with potential, ready-made causes for the defect--including your preferred way of handling it.
Quality Assurance is also a chance to review your supply partners' performance history, such as the costs incurred through previous rework requests, corrective actions taken to prevent recurring issues, and cost estimates for future rework scenarios.
All told, you'll have enough information to decide if your supplier 1) needs additional tools and training to improve their output, or 2) needs to be replaced.
Delivery ChallengesA feeling of accomplishment comes with a successfully-made product that is free of defects, appropriately packaged, and market-compliant. However, you can't be satisfied yet. It still must be transported, likely somewhere far away, and likely through challenging conditions.
In front of you lies a new set of challenges, including chronic product delays, in-transit damage or spoilage, and even incorrect order fulfillment.
And believe it or not, a growing number of returns have nothing to do with lateness or production defects at all! Customer expectations have extended to increasingly lenient return policies just based on a simple change of mind.
E-commerce businesses are particularly vulnerable to this trend, as buyers tend to overbuy items they haven't physically seen with the intention of returning a fraction of it.
Therefore, company QA plans are including 'reverse logistics' measures, like dedicated warehouse space, to handle returns of still-sellable merchandise.
Increasingly, supply chain transparency has become its own category of concern for multi-tiered businesses.
According to the business technology news site, ZDNet: "Almost nine out of 10 Americans believe transparency from businesses is more important than ever before."
Furthermore, their study shows that: "a business' history of being transparent makes them (surveyed customers) more likely to give it a second chance after a bad experience."
Along with high-quality products, customers want to know the product's history:
Therefore, Quality Assurance planning is the ideal time to incorporate supply chain transparency goals and the metrics you wish to focus on to achieve these goals.
Successful risk management relies on two resources: supply chain talent and a management system capable of fully utilizing their talents.
Gaining and retaining supply chain partners willing and able to work up to your expectations goes a long way to meeting customer satisfaction at their delivery door.
A well-designed supply chain management system can fill any remaining knowledge gaps along the way.
Data collection technology--such as Radio Frequency Identification Tags (RFID)--has revolutionized product tracking to provide granular-level detail about its source, makeup, and surrounding conditions.
This is especially beneficial for the food industry, as food handing and general labor laws have tightened. Food producers have to balance two opposing concerns: time- and temperature-sensitive perishables, on the one hand, and laws that restrict a driver's daily road hours on the other.
Without real-time tracking-data capabilities and a store of consolidated and accessible delivery-history records, a Quality Assurance team would have a difficult time planning routes that consistently meet all of the above requirements.
Additionally, it is during the QA stage of production that production details, best practice training manuals and standardized inspection templates should be shared throughout your supply chain so that every partner can bring themselves up to your expectations.
Comprehensive strategies and the right tools to carry out these strategies are what give supply chain partners a feeling of involvement and agency -- and talented partners will not hesitate to take advantage of these tools for the benefit of better production and a greater profit share.
No matter how talented, no single manager can be on-site for every production process.
That is why QIMAone's end-to-end quality and compliance software provides a unified, cloud-based platform for your company and its partners to keep collective eyes on the supply chain.
Furthermore, through supply chain visualization, mapping, and real-time data collection, Quality Assurance efforts can empower those eyes to combat sourcing, production, and delivery risk before they become insurmountable problems.
Our software has been informed by over 15 years of testing, inspection, and certification (TIC) experience, and our digital library of training materials and inspection templates reflect changing market regulations as well as customer-lead calls for product transparency.
Through successful quality assurance, your company doesn't need to blindly chase after your goal. With 360-degree visibility, your goal becomes visible and obtainable for everyone across the supply chain.
Learn more about QIMAone applications by scheduling a demo today.