For a truly effective HACCP plan, companies must formalize vendor policies and communication with vital service partners.
Janitors, electricians, plumbers, landscaping crews are all hardworking professionals who carry out their jobs to little acclaim or fanfare, but whose respective functions are vital to operational success. Often times these duties are entrusted to outside vendors, and when they are performing excellently, they fade into the background of the day-to-day cycle of commerce. Companies must not overlook these diligent service providers as components under the umbrella of analysis and controls that Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) places on all facets of operations. A HACCP-based vendor certification program helps ensure safety and compliance through standard vendor communication, management, and traceability.
Where to Start: Know Your Processes & Communicate
A vendor certification program will only be successful if a company has well documented processes. A vendor policy should serve as an overview of expectations and roadmap to the more detailed and specific processes contained within Pre-Requisite Programs (PRP). These PRP’s are individual components that make up the greater HACCP plan.
By providing access to these processes, companies can educate their vendors and avoid costly non-compliance issues, as well as avoid damaging important working partnerships. The vendor policy needs to be a part of a contract, signed or recognized as an agreed upon set of criteria for operation between the two parties.
Management: Compliance Audits & Tracking
Once vendors have been brought onboard with a compliance program, a system of audits should be in place to monitor compliance. Monthly and yearly reviews to verify that any process changes have been communicated, as well as reviews of vendor practices, should be documented. For large companies that employ an equally large number of vendors, digital vendor management systems, also known as asset management software, can serve as a central and easily maintained repository for maintaining a program that may be spread across geographies and diverse locations. Smaller companies can achieve proper management with a simple spreadsheet matrix, as long as processes are in place to ensure diligence in maintaining updated information. No matter what tool is used, the basics of creating a central repository for tracking vendor communication and compliance must be functional and easily accessible to parties that interact with outside vendors.
Your Employees: The Best Defense
Your employees will always be the best safeguard and control to help maintain vendor compliance. “When employees are thoroughly trained and aware of the process and procedures that make up a HACCP plan, they will always be vigilant to any issue that might arise.” said Jim Gadziemski, General Manager of Warehousing at Columbian Logistics Network. In essence, everyone becomes part of the HACCP team. Training and frequency will differ for each PRP. Posting an approved vendors list for facility managers to review prior to vendor selection can help speed the selection process and remove potential hazards that may arise from contracting with un-vetted suppliers.
A HACCP plan is only effective if every part of your organization participates, and that includes the important support provided by outside vendors. Clearly communicating your processes, and creating an audit system to track compliance issues will insure that there are no weak links in your vendor network.
Mandy VanHaitsma is the Marketing Coordinator at Columbian Logistics Network, a Midwest Based logistics company specializing in service to food manufacturers and distributors. Questions? Contact Mandy, at 616-460-5489 or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org