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Are your specifications a document or a management system?

Great companies have great specifications for their ingredients, packaging materials, work in process materials, and finished goods. Significant resources are engaged to assure that the requirements for the different products are accurate and the instructions are clear to assure a repeatable manufactured product. These specifications must be detailed enough to support a purchasing contract or if there is a legal dispute, can serve as the primary evidence document for what exactly are the requirements for the product. Is there a signed agreement? Does all parties have universal visibility to the requirements?

Specifications are truly the “point of truth” for products. But what if these specifications are only static documents, only used for reference? Imagine if the specifications had extended functionality.

What functionality would you want? Evidence of compliance to the specification from all suppliers at any point in the supply chain? What else would you want? Once you acquire evidence of compliance or non compliance, a means to enact immediate corrective actions as well as generate metrics. Use these metrics (scorecards) to support whether or not your supply chain is improving or that you need to engage in further efforts to reduce costs, improve quality and food safety.

Imagine always having a means to determine upon receipt of a product from a supplier what their past performance has been and what the criteria should be for the shipment in the truck. Or to be able to see that the same lot of product from that supplier had just been rejected at another of your locations. What if that product was found to be perfect? The data from both inspections can be compared to determine whether the issue is with calibration of inspectors or potentially a break in the cold chain.

What if all the non compliance information could be included into the next audit of that supplier? A focus on real issues for the company versus a standard audit form. Or the non compliance information can be used to enhance the specification or update the hazard identification for the product to enhance the risk assessment for the product.

Lastly, what if, you only had to enter the compliance criteria only one time? Create a specification and then watch the functionality explode across your quality and food safety management system. It all gets back to “keep it simple” and get huge pay backs from your efforts.

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