Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Supplier Agreement Management Question

I have a question related to Supplier Agreement Management (SAM) SP 2.2 - Monitor Selected Supplier Processes. What is the basic intent of this practice and in what scenario does it fit in? It specifies "...situations of tight alignment between processes implemented by the supplier and those of the project..." - which is normally not the case in most (small) projects (as I know). I hope here we are not including "Acceptance" and "Transition" as aligned processes. Also it seems redundant to me with SP 2.1 - Execute the Supplier Agreement because in the contract/ SOW, it is usually mentioned how the supplier needs to monitor his processes (frequency to perform process audits etc.) and the frequency/condition when the customer may ask for a process audit/assessment. So doesn't executing the Supplier agreement covers these two practices?

I can see where you might have some confusion concerning these two SAM practices. SAM SP 2.1 says “Perform activities with the supplier as specified in the supplier agreement.” And your confusion comes about from sub-practice 1 “Monitor supplier progress and performance (schedule, effort, cost, and technical performance) as defined in the supplier agreement.” In essence SAM SP 2.1 is all about performing Project Monitoring and Control (PMC) over the supplier, which should be spelled out in the supplier agreement. You are basically acting as the Project Manager for the supplier by monitoring and controlling their project and technical performance. There is no intent to perform any Process and Product Quality Assurance (PPQA) audits or activities to support this practice.

In contrast SAM SP 2.2 says “Select, monitor, and analyze processes used by the supplier.” This practice is where you perform PPQA activities (process audits and work product audits) on selected supplier processes that are critical to the success of your project and business. Again, this ability to perform PPQA on the supplier must be specified in the supplier agreement. But you want to have the freedom to select any supplier process, so don’t indicate specific processes in the supplier agreement. For example you might decide to monitor and analyze how your supplier performs peer reviews or how they manage their requirements. If you have your supplier doing small projects (less than a month in duration) you may not have many opportunities to perform PPQA on a given supplier project. This situation is the same as when you have small projects done completely in house. There is no hope or expectation that you will be able to perform PPQA activities on every small project.

Look back at my blog on PPQA Audit Frequency for a simple way to adjust the frequency of the PPQA audits based on the quality issues discovered. You can use this same approach to determine the frequency of conducting PPQA activities on your supplier, assuming that you supplier regularly performs small projects for you.

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