5 Times to Change Your Supplier Quality Management Strategy

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” as the saying goes. But what if it is broken? LNS survey data shows 79% of 699 surveyed companies claim that Supplier Quality Management (SQM) is not automated with software. 50% believe that SQM is the quality process most critical to their company’s success, but 41% say that it is their least mature quality process. Those numbers grabbed our attention - quality leaders and change-agents need to focus on this process area.

What’s Your Quality Strategy?

ISA 95 Top Quality Strategy.pngLNS has adapted the ISA-95 framework (full-size image here)– originally intended for Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) – as a framework to understand the entire quality management picture. We added a Level 5 to capture Quality Governance and Planning and then added the value chain as quality management occurs across the lifecycle. On top of this, we overlaid appropriate (although by no means all) quality management activities.

This framework is valuable because it provides a temporal perspective which includes both Enterprise Quality and Functional Quality. In a single framework, it represents strategy and management down to operations and real-time asset performance. Recently, we added Connected Devices and Analytics to capture the connection to Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

As quality leaders look to improve their SQM strategy, use this framework to assess As Is state and plan for the To Be state.

5 Times to Change SQM

The ISA-95 Total Quality Strategy is also our guide to determine the “times” to change quality, as at each level of the framework there is a different decision duration. Understand how your company is capturing SQM at each of these decision periods, along with these considerations:

  1. Months/Years: Level 5 - Governance and Planning. Determine the strategy for Operational Excellence, Knowledge Retention, and Quality and Risk Management. Recent changes to ISO 9001, AITF 16949, and AS 9100 provide a perfect opportunity both to revisit SQM and SQM strategy in context of these changes and to dialogue with top executives. Don’t miss this opportunity to communicate quality and SQM’s importance in the attainment of strategic and operational objectives.

  2. Days/Weeks: Level 4 – Business Systems. SQM is a process area versus a single process. Consider the need for an integrated supplier portal, scorecards, audits, NCs (Non-Conformances), SCARs (Supplier Corrective Action Reports), etc. Do you know how the work of SQM is done across all sites and business units? Is there one system or multiple systems? How well adopted are the systems? Are they connected to information from Levels 3 to 0?

  3. Minutes/Hours: Level 3 – Operations Management. Consider if inspection results are connected back to the supplier and SQM. Manufacturing captures high-value data associated with incoming receiving and in-process issues that should feed back to your scorecard, risk management, audit schedule, etc. Service and other groups may also capture similar data through their diagnostic tests. Consider these integration points, and then consider how real-time data from devices or data directly from supplier inspection systems might improve operations.

  4. Sub-Seconds: Level 2 to 0 – Control and Assets. Big Data and Machine Learning have transformed the value of this data to SQM. In manufacturing, this becomes a data set that can help predict supplier quality defects. In the field, this can provide insights into the voice of the customer, predict issues, and early supplier defect detection.


Yes, that was only four in the list above. The fifth is “now." Carpe diem, right? Again, this particularly true in this case, as poor SQM management creates many risks to brand, reputation, and finances. Make the most of compelling events to drive improvements, or build the case to create your own.

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All entries in this Industrial Transformation blog represent the opinions of the authors based on their industry experience and their view of the information collected using the methods described in our Research Integrity. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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