In international trading industry, an independent, unbiased third-party quality audit is one of the most effective ways to minimize the risks of every transaction.

What is a Third-Party Audit?

A Third-Party Audit introduces an autonomous team of auditors that have zero connection to your supplier to perform the audit; whereas first- and second-party quality audits may have a more direct connection to your supplier. Products are assessed by the auditors using a baseline set of pre-established standards of quality. Upon completion of the audit, the third party then issues a certification of compliance.

Auditors may use any of four types of third-party quality audits for evaluations, and each one examines a different facet of the product.

Product Audit – A Product Audit occurs when a detailed inspection of the final product is conducted prior to the product being delivered to the customer. As such, Product Audits are more in-line with a quality inspection than a true “audit.” Accurately conducting Product Audits ensures that the product you pay for is what is delivered.

System Audit – The Quality System Audit is somewhat self-explanatory. A System Audit analyses the various components of the entire production system, including how it’s used, who uses it, when it’s used, where it’s used, and why it’s used. Auditors take a comprehensive look at how everything works in concert with every other component to produce the final product.

Process Audit – While a System Audit is typically broad in its scope, the Process Audit usually dives deeper into the product. A Process Audit looks critically at, and evaluates, the intricacies and quirks of a particular system. A Process Audit verifies aspects of the production process, such as the machinery, people, and materials involved.

Compliance Audit – When conducting a Compliance Audit, work instructions, contracts, obligations, and procedures associated with the product are scrutinized by the auditors, and are then compared to what’s actually happening during the production process.

Selecting the Right Auditor

Third-party audits are extremely useful and reliable in order to foster growth and improvement within your supply chain. Selecting the right auditor or audit team isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” solution, nor as easy as simply hiring a big brand or asking your supplier to recommend one. Follow the recommendations below to find the right auditor solution for you and your business.

First (and most importantly), decide whether or not you want a global auditing partner with international experience or one that’s local. If you’re searching for an auditor in your region, find a provider that specializes in your area of business. A computer chip auditor won’t be very helpful if you’re in the business of textiles. Don’t forget to do your due diligence when vetting an auditor: be sure to review their previous work and ask for references to ensure their expertise and credibility. Finally, regardless of the type of auditor or firm you ultimately hire, ensure that they provide guidance on creating an inspection process your organization can use after the audit is complete.


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