Factory checklist: What to ask suppliers - Supply Management
Despite monitoring, some clothing companies are still finding slavery in their supply chain
Despite monitoring, some clothing companies are still finding slavery in their supply chain

How to conduct a successful factory audit - 17-point checklist

19 February 2016

Want to make sure your factory audits get to the heart of the issues? Here’s how:

  • Make any-time audits a mandatory requirement in supplier contracts.
  • Identify those areas of the business and suppliers that pose the greatest risk, and prioritise these.
  • Define clearly the purpose of any audit and what will be assessed.
  • Establish whether to conduct audits in-house or outsource to a third-party. Accompany any potential audit suppliers on an audit, to examine their processes.
  • Visit high-risk suppliers regularly and insist on unrestricted access to the sites. Take someone who speaks the local language and understands the local culture with you.
  • Insist on seeing the different stages of the manufacturing process, and check the items being produced are those that will end up in your organisation. Remember to include warehouses.
  • Be sure to test the quality of finished products, watching out for potential substitution of ingredients or use of non-specified parts or materials.
  • Score supplier performance and track this over time.
  • Consider how far down the supply chain it is feasible to go, and whose responsibility auditing second and third-tier suppliers should be.
  • Consider sharing information with other customers or procurement teams.
  • If an audit highlights concerns, work with suppliers to improve conditions and processes.
  • Talk to workers and local groups or academics who can alert you to potential issues or practices that you may not know about.
  • Check identity documents and ensure these are genuine.
  • Check there are policies in place on worker protection, fire prevention and environmental requirements, like how much waste is produced at the site.
  • Does the factory respect and comply with local laws on working hours.
  • Look at lists of employees to ensure that they meet age requirements, and
    do random checks on ID cards.
  • Conduct spot-checks on employee contracts to ensure workers have them.
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