Writing a Corrective Action Request to a Vendor

Many companies new to the ISO9001:2008 quality standard may not be aware that it’s perfectly OK to send a corrective action request to a supplier. Heck, I suppose you could even send one to a customer if you really wanted to, although I’ve never seen that done.

Why would you send a corrective action request to a supplier? Depending on your particular situation, it might be easier for you to just stop using that vendor, and buy the product or service from someone else. And if your product or service allows you such flexibility, then go right ahead and do so.

But many companies purchase goods or services from specialized vendors. You might have a long term, mutually beneficial relationship with the supplier that you don’t want to….or can’t easily….end. Maybe that vendor is experiencing rapid growth, or maybe they’ve laid off experienced people, causing their product or service to fall below your standards. Maybe it’s in your best interest to help the vendor improve their quality before you go looking for another vendor.

Before you send a corrective action request to a valued supplier, you have to ask yourself a few questions. How badly do I want or need to do business with this vendor? What is the severity of their lack of quality? Is it a one-time mistake, or has a pattern developed? Is their management genuinely concerned about getting it right and making you happy? How much eggshell walking do you need to do?

If a supplier’s lack of quality has caused you to think about requesting a corrective action, then most likely you should do so. But think about the questions here. Be firm, but polite. Chances are the supplier is more embarrassed than you know, and that they will be more than happy to take action to fix your issue and prevent it from happening again.

Depending on your industry and the types of vendors you use, making efforts to improve the quality of products from your vendor can save you a lot of time and money from not having to seek out new suppliers and see if they’re any better.

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2 Responses to “Writing a Corrective Action Request to a Vendor”

  1. Chris Too says:

    Hi. The company which I am working for now is certified with ISO 9001:2008. My quality staffs used to send out corrective action request to the vendors. They have requested supplier to reply within our pre-determined working days, but these vendors just don’t reply. And because they are not replying, these CARs just remain open like this. Can you please kindly advise what should I do with these open CARs?

  2. Timothy says:

    Hi Chris, in my opinion you have a couple of options. If the vendor has made a serious error, or repeated errors, and won’t make corrective actions, I believe you should stop purchasing from that vendor. If the vendor has made only a small error, or they’re the sole source for a material critical to your company, I would contact the vendor at least 3 times. If they refuse to reply to your CAR, and your management won’t consider banning the vendor, all you can do is close out the CAR by stating the facts. If the vendor won’t reply to your CAR, all you can really do is cut them off. If your management says you can’t cut them off, note that on the CAR. At your next surveillance audit your auditor may take pity on you and not write it up. Or he/she may write you a nonconformance for continuing to use a vendor who makes repeated errors.

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