Following on from my last blog, here is some more common sense on purchasing from the ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems standard which says –

7 Product Realization
7.4 Purchasing
7.4.2 Purchasing Information
Purchasing information shall describe the product to be purchased, including, where appropriate:
a) requirements for approval of product, procedures, processes and equipment,
b) requirements for qualification of personnel, and
c) quality management system requirements.
The organization shall ensure the adequacy of specified purchase requirements prior to their communication to the supplier.

7.4.3 Verification of Purchased Product
The organization shall establish and implement the inspection or other activities necessary for ensuring that purchased product meets specified purchase requirements.
Where the organization or its customer intends to perform verification at the supplier’s premises, the organization shall state the intended verification arrangements and method of product release in the purchasing information.

Purchasing Information
All the standard is saying here is that if you can’t clearly explain what you want to purchase how do you expect the supplier to give you what you want? Hence you need to clearly state your requirements when you purchase raw materials, equipment, tools, plant, delivery services, cleaning services, contractor services, maintenance services, etc. This applies whenever you are purchasing goods or services that can affect your goods and services.

Most businesses use purchase orders to communicate what they want to buy. In some situations an email is enough. In others a contract or agreement is a more useful communication tool such as when subcontracting electrical services in a construction project. Typical information on a purchase order might include the:

  • Order date
  • Delivery date
  • Order number
  • Part number
  • Description/services required
  • Quantity
  • Price
  • Delivery address
  • Delivery instructions
  • Special qualification (e.g. appropriately licensed staff such as a licensed electrician)
  • Special instructions if appropriate (e.g. a SDS must accompany a delivery of chemicals)
  • References (e.g. welding must be performed to the Australian Standard).

The standard also says that your purchase documents should be reviewed before sending them to the supplier. Who does this review and the extent of it is dependent on risk. If you are purchasing something that is complicated, costs a lot, or has a big impact on your finished products or services then it makes sense to have at least one other person in your business read the purchasing document, and perhaps sign off on it, before submitting it to the supplier. Most businesses already have rules about who can approve purchase orders of given dollar values.

Verification of Purchased Product
Once you get the goods or services how do you know that they are what you ordered? Once again, the degree to which you check them should be relevant to risk. If, for example, it costs a lot, or has a big impact on your finished products or services then it makes sense to do a thorough check and to so this as soon as you can.

When purchasing goods that can affect your finished product quality you might check as a minimum that you have received the right goods, the right quantity, and that you were charged the right amount. For higher risk goods you would want to perform more checks the nature of which being dependent on what you have purchased. How many incoming goods you check will also be related to risk, and you might want to inspect a higher number if the goods have caused you some problems in the past. And if you cannot do the checks when the delivery arrives then you could set it aside in a special area until it is inspected and released for use.

Examples of the checks you can perform on services are reviewing their quality plan at the commencement of work and their outputs on an ongoing basis or at milestones. You might perform more checks when they first start supplying you until you are comfortable with them. In the case of both goods and services the sooner you check them the less likely you are to have to do rework or to create rejects.

Sometimes you may want to check the goods before they leave the supplier’s premises because, for example, they are so big to move or because the supplier has the tools and equipment to fix any problems you find on the spot. If this is the case the standard says you should communicate how you will check the goods and decide if they are OK in your purchasing documents.

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