Coronavirus has changed the world. But, what will life be like after?
When the BRC was originally created, the aim was to reduce the number of external audits that sites had to have. Unfortunately, the reality didn’t quite meet this aim. Retailers continued to carry out audits, as the BRC Standard didn’t quite meet their requirements. Plus, customers continued to audit their suppliers and, in reality that’s never going to change.
If you think about it, it’s a waste of the site’s time, it’s a waste of the retailer’s time and a waste of your customer’s time. There are so many parts of these audits that are repetitive. So many of the clauses are the same. So, why audit one site to the same thing, over and over again?
An audit is only one moment in time, so things still get missed. What if it could be different?
Wouldn’t it be great, if audits weren’t kept secret? Imagine if audits were open book and what if sites shared their audits?
Let’s say a site has a BRC audit. The auditor audits to the BRC Standard. The audit report and close-out of any NCN’s is then made public by the site, to their customers.
The same site manufactures ingredients and their customer comes to audit them. But because the customer has already seen the BRC audit report, they don’t need to audit the same things. They can instead drill down into areas of weakness that were highlighted by the BRC audit. Or, they could just audit their additional requirements. The customer allows the site to share their audit report and the close out of the NCN’s with their other customers.
The same site makes retailer product and their retailer comes to audit them. But, because the retailer has visibility of the BRC audit and the sites customer audits, they don’t need to audit the same things. They just audit their additional requirements or areas where they feel the site is weaker.
Having an open and transparent supply chain would massively reduce cost and release time for the site to work on improvement. Imagine something similar to SEDEX, where a site can share their audit information up to their customers. Imagine the potential this could have. Less audits, more transparency, more focused assessment and a greater level of due diligence.
What? No way!
Now, we appreciate that this, to some, will be an instant ‘no-no.’ Many companies won’t share their BRC audit reports, never mind the close-out evidence. The reason being that it’s ‘confidential.’
But why is it confidential; really?
If a site is confident in their ability, then why keep it secret? It’s only kept secret because the business is too nervous to share this information. Because the risk of sharing is too high, as the site are not confident in their abilities.
Some suppliers don’t want to share their supplier’s details, and state that this is confidential. This is another type of fear – that their customers will bypass them and go straight to their suppliers. We had a situation recently like this, where a spice blend supplier wouldn’t provide their suppliers details. But, the customer would never have gone direct to their suppliers, as they want the blend – not the individual spices. In the majority of the rest of these situations, the customer doesn’t have the buying power to go direct. If a company is confident in their commercial ability, then why keep the information secret from your customers?
Look at it differently
If a site was transparent and provided this level of detailed due diligence to their customers – imagine the commercial benefit that this site would have. If there was a register of companies who do this for their customers – it could be used as a way of choosing your suppliers.
Those companies who chose not to share – imagine the negative commercial impact that this would have.
Obviously, there would need to be rules around the information that could be shared. Personal information would need deducting. Any information that would pose a security risk should not be documented. Any intellectual property would need to be deducted or not documented where it’s not needed.
Clearly this is a controversial subject and hopefully it will generate a good discussion. Please get involved and share your thoughts. Do you agree/disagree? Do you see the benefits or not? Do you think it’s possible or not? Do you have any thoughts about what the techie world will look like, after Coronavirus?
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