Supplier Monitoring Programs, Vol.5

Volume 5Ad Hoc Projects

Your specs are robust and orderly.  You have implemented a supplier monitoring program and are collecting data and creating control charts for your core items.  You have policies for corrective actions and heightened testing when issues are identified.  You might even have QA data flowing in real-time from key suppliers.  

The air is crisp.  The birds are singing.  The beer is as cold as it can be.  Is it time to go on autopilot?

In the world of quality, the battle is continuous.  If you aren’t improving, are you slipping?

Let’s explore what continuous quality looks like when you already have a suppier monitoring program.  A baseline quality program is a must, but here are some targeted ad hoc projects to enhance your quality assurance program.  

Core Item Focus

Your core items should already be prioritized in your supplier monitoring program, but when items weight so heavily on your brand identity and brand equity, a quality issue in this category is devastating.  Core item-focused projects can be as straightforward as third-party hosted product cuttings or as in-depth as supplier quality conferences.  Third-party hosted product cuttings give the QA team a chance to bring in outside education on descriptive quality terms which gets culinary, quality assurance, and leadership all speaking the same language.  In addition, it is hosted by a third party creates a completely unbiased, blind product cutting.  These are rare!  In a blind product cutting, everyone is on the same page when they are tasting, and tying quality to reality happens straight away, without taking a detour for bias and the golden palette (aka highest paid grade is always right).  

Yield Studies

Let’s talk money for a second.  Sellable product is what brings the boys to the yard.  When patties are shriveling and shrimp are shrinking, are your operators shoveling more on the plate to make portions look appealing?  These issues ruin profit margins.  Understanding product yield and pricing accordingly is a must.

The 80/20 Rule

I can hear Ina Garten now, “Quality issues….Yikes.  How low class is that?”  Every population has a bottom 20% and when you are assessing quality, that bottom 20% equates to at least 80% of your day to day issues.  These are the causes of headaches and high bar tabs.  Just like misbehaving kids, these suppliers need to have their hands held and understand they are the focus of the moment.  But time spent bringing these low performers up to par is so valuable.  If done correctly, this is not just correcting mistakes, but rather educating your supplier on industry best practice QA policies and behaviors.  


Limited time offers should garner the spotlight.  But who wants a quality issue in the spotlight?  LTOs should include a program for risk mitigation.  You only have a short time to WOW them–don’t spend it worrying about quality.

First Production Runs

The launch of a new product requires all hands on deck (or at least a watchful eye).  When products ramp up from pilot to plant and from plant to full-scale production the craziest things happen.  Prevent them even when you don’t have time to be there in person.  

Remarkable Categories

As a quality assurance professional, you must protect brand equity.  But what about going past protection, and vying to increase brand equity by creating remarkable products?  That should be the ultimate goal.  When you want to steal market share in a specific category you must focus on quality in a more granular way than what you do in your usual monitoring activities. 

Schedule time with Food Improved Consulting Group to get these projects in motion while you are still focused on your supply chain.