By Barbara Levin
Managing suppliers in today’s complex food safety and quality environment is still – for many food & beverage industry companies – a manual, labor-intensive process that presents many challenges to super-busy Food Safety and Quality Assurance (FSQA) departments. The sheer volume of supplier-related paper, such as FSQA test results, audit documentation and registrations – along with tracking of specifications and expiration dates, and the ability to access data for performance benchmarks and continuous improvement – have turned supplier compliance and management into an administrative burden vs. a pro-active practice that can have a positive impact on food safety and quality as well as cost of goods made. And, this challenge is only expected to intensify when FDA announces final rules for FSMA’s Risk Based Preventive Controls, Foreign Supplier Verification and Voluntary Qualified Importer programs.
The emergence of a new breed of cloud-based supplier compliance software solutions for the F&B industry, however, is turning these challenges into automated processes with true return on investment.
Before we look at the benefits of technology for supplier compliance, let’s first take a big picture look at how supplier compliance automation works. There are a variety of systems available today and all will have different capabilities depending upon your needs. The high-level steps below generally describe critical supplier compliance automation capabilities and key features to consider when evaluating solutions: