By Gean Botha, MD at Programmed Process Outsourcing
The manufacturing sector is diverse and highly regulated, subject to numerous checks, controls and laws governing quality control. This can make compliance – and the relevant audits that go along with it – a challenging prospect. Outsourcing not only the processes themselves, but the audit as well, can aid manufacturers in assuring quality, complying with all relevant laws and controls, and streamlining operations for maximum output, productivity and profitability.
Many audits, different requirements
Organisations within manufacturing are subject to numerous different types of audits, including social, ethical, financial and process audits. For quality control, as well as ensuring health and safety, process audits are critical. Furthermore, quality control audits are essential for ensuring adherence to standard operating procedures and any applicable International Standards Organisation (ISO) standards.
Many manufacturers are also subject to audits by the National Occupational Safety Association (NOSA) and need to be certified. In addition, some manufacturers may be audited by their clients to ensure compliance with required standards. The Department of Labour requires audits to ensure compliance with industry regulations around basic conditions of employment, labour relations, minimum wage and more.
Complex and complicated
Each type of audit has different requirements, processes to follow and repercussions if failed. Without an effective audit process and procedure, both operations and the brand itself can be negatively affected. The lack of compliant processes may also impact the quality of manufacturing, which in turn introduces risk. The scope of this risk varies depending on the nature of manufacturing. When it relates to food or heavy engineering products, the risk can be extensive, and failure could have far-reaching consequences. Compliance is therefore inarguably essential, but it can also be complex and costly.
Audits require multiple elements, including a risk register to determine risks and identify if policies and standard operating procedures are in place. In addition, manufacturers must maintain compliance checklists and keep the type of standing quality control processes up to date. This is not a once-off exercise, but an ongoing, cyclical process that manufacturers must repeat at intervals to ensure risk mitigation. Outsourcing processes, as well as the audit process around them, can benefit manufacturers in many ways.
Simplifying and streamlining
A business process outsourcing (BPO) provider can be the ideal partner to help manufacturers with their process improvement and their compliance and auditing. The partner will be able to analyse processes to determine areas of risk and areas for improvement, streamlining the process while simultaneously assisting in risk mitigation. As a result, the BPO partner will enable manufacturers to enhance performance and utilisation of resources and ensure that risk exposure is mitigated and legal requirements are met.
A BPO partner will be able to assist with compliance and the audit process as well. Firstly, they will examine the scope of work and processes as defined in terms of various standards, such as quality, health and safety, food production and preparation and more. From there, they will identify an audit task list, and check on every item on the list to ensure that they comply with required standards. If they do not, these will be flagged to be addressed with remedial action before an audit. Once compliance is identified and observed, it can be validated and signed off before the next cycle begins.
While compliance is vital in the manufacturing industry, it can be demanding and complex and distracts from core business operations. Outsourcing both processes and the compliance functions around these processes can help manufacturers ensure better quality control, increased productivity, and a streamlined, simplified audit process.