Monday, November 3, 2014

Audit Checklist Example for ISO Facilities

As mentioned in the Make It Big book, visiting a contract manufacturer is a fun and highly interactive process.  Entrepreneurs often visit several in one trip to keep travel expenses low and while covering as much ground as possible.  This post presents the basics and provides a template for use.  

Having an organized approach to a visit ensures important topics are covered and ensures efficient use of time.  Good contract manufacturers are busy so having an organized approach also makes a good impression and displays respect for their time.
The International Organization for Standardization ISO 9001 standard covers many of the topics that should be reviewed in a visit.  The checklist attached was organized to facilitate  auditing.  It is a bit long for a day and a half visit and the book shows an example of a shorter version.  But this long list is a comprehensive start and can be narrow based on the product type and the contract manufacturer visited.  This or similar version can also be used to collect more data during the request for proposal (RFP) process also reviewed in the book.  The checklist uses the ISO 9001 standard numbering for reference.  Keeping an organized approach to partner selection also makes it much easier to compare capabilities and justify selection.
"Auditing contract manufacturers before and after they start producing products is critical for partner selection and ongoing use," says Marc Theeuwes former Director of Engineering and Operations, and now Consulting Associate Professor at Sanford University. "Going into audits with a prepared list and mind helps make the most of the visit, and makes it more efficient and fun for both parties.  I've used similar tools for audits in the US, Asia as well as Europe."
The ISO 9001 checklist is included as a reference here: ISO9001 Audit Checklist.
The book "Make It Big Crossing the Entrepreneur's Gap" describes the contract manufacturer engagement process in detail from contact to contract to launch.  Tools and templates are provided to help entrepreneurs scale up through distribution and contracting relationships.