The Client: Food Safety Audit Provider
Headquartered in the US, the company today is an industry leader in the areas of audit services and food safety education.
With major industry players as its audit clients, the company is committed to protecting the safety of the entire food supply chain. Many of the world's largest food manufacturers, distributors and food service operators, rely on the company's audits.
The company's food safety audit services include Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) inspection and audits for Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), customer audits and quality system audits.
Being in the business of building reputation and setting quality standards, efficient audit management for accurate evaluation of clients' processes and products is of utmost importance to the company.
The company needed to automate and streamline its food safety audits and inspection services and sought a robust and comprehensive business process solution that would enable the departments of the company's food safety business to operate at optimum efficiency.
After evaluating several audit management products in the market based on a variety of criteria, the company selected MetricStream's Audit Management System as the best fit for its requirements.
MetricStream's Automated Quality management system (QMS): The system is a comprehensive, Web-based audit application deployed on MetricStream Governance Risk Compliance (GRC) Platform and designed to manage a wide range of audit-related activities, data and processes. The flexibility of the system supports all types of audits, including operational audits, supplier audits, distributor audits, product audits and quality audits. The audit channels and the auditors have separate log-ins to the application enabling access and providing real time communication to every user involved in the audit process.
Auditors at the company use MetricStream's Automated Quality Management System to conduct audits and inspections at numerous manufacturing and distribution facilities worldwide. The application provides workflow, collaboration and reporting capabilities to allow the auditors, management and support staff at the company to efficiently plan and schedule audits, establish inspection criteria, execute audits, submit and collect audit results, track findings and issues, create audit reports and streamline inter-departmental coordination. Email based notifications and alerts allow the company to integrate the industry best-practices into audit management system.
The application provides an exhaustive audit view. A click on any higher level audit element on the portal drills-down to the lower level audit elements, giving the user a complete view of the audit and its results.
Users have a role-based portal access with options required for initiating actions, responding to events, managing checklists and assigning tasks, viewing reports and dashboards, limited to their roles.
The application includes an offline functionality which allows the company's auditors to conduct audits at remote field sites with limited or no access to the Internet.
Roles and functionalities: The application portal is designed for the following roles: Scheduler, Auditor, Report Coordinator, Report Processor, Director, Administrator, and Customer.
Using MetricStream's QMS system the schedulers at the company can set up audits, manage audit accounts and check auditor's availability. Schedulers can create audits for as long as five years period. They can modify audit dates with the modification getting reflected in the entire system and communicated to the relevant staff members via email.
Apart from executing the audits, Auditors can view their calendar, unscheduled audits, rejected audit reports. Auditors can organize an audit in a logical structure and hierarchy with detailed audit templates and work orders. In case of audits at remote field sites, checklists can be downloaded and used offline using the MetricStream's Briefcase feature.
Auditors can maintain detailed scorecards for both suppliers and individual stores or outlets. The report data identifies stores, outlets and suppliers who display poor performance consistently.
Auditors can examine the responses given by the channel for which the audit was conducted, approve or reject the same and track all issues identified and recommendations made as a result of the audit.
Report Administrator can create audit efficiency report, discrepancy report, closed business report, and auditors score trend. Audit reports are assessed in real time while simultaneously a repository of previous results is maintained, giving the auditors and managers a complete trail of events – an audit trail.
Directors can review all reports using the application. Administrators can create and upload checklists, create and manage addendums, create auditor profiles, manage customer reports.
Customers can view audit instance reports, score reports, performance reports using the MetricStream application. Alternatively, these reports can also be sent to the customer via email.
Deployment model and customization: MetricStream carried out a hosted deployment of the solution saving the company the administrative and implementation costs associated with installing and managing an in-house system.
Taking into account the requirements of the company and the size of operations, MetricStream team configured its Audit Management System to include all the nuances of the company's business.
MetricStream also performed data migration for a huge amount of information from various legacy systems and excel sheets at the company into MetricStream Application. The data included details of over 12,000 customer organizations of the company, over 18,000 audit templates used by the company for assessments, and over 28,000 records of customer contacts including their log records – notifications, certification history.
MetricStream's Automated Quality Management System replaced a number of legacy applications at the company and integrated a few into the MetricStream system platform.
During the deployment, MetricStream followed the timelines of the original plan very strictly as the company's audit schedules were planned based on the deployment completion date and the auditors' training time on the MetricStream application.
The company selected MetricStream for this engagement based on the following qualities:
MetricStream has relevant experience and deep understanding of subtle nuances specific to the food safety audit and compliance segment.
MetricStream's all-encompassing approach is projected through its integrated platform with a complete workflow automation of the entire closed-loop audit process.
MetricStream solution offers advanced built-in functionalities to ensure integration of the audit process with the risk and compliance management system.
MetricStream has the ability to support large organizations in the areas of integration, configurability, scalability and security.
Caught in the whirlpool of fast-paced, technology-driven business world, the company found itself faced with challenges such as:
Handling manual processes: With the expansion of operations in various countries, auditing facilities spread over thousands of manufacturing and distribution sites worldwide, rapidly increasing clientele, and a huge auditor base to manage the company's thousands of email-based manual audits were proving time-consuming, scattered and less effective.
Managing legacy applications: Multiple stand-alone legacy applications – home-grown as well as configured – were used to manage various processes. These needed a huge amount of human intervention leading to duplication and inaccuracies. The management of these applications was a herculean task, not to mention the time and cost metrics impacted.
Incorporating new quality standards: Constant changes with new and more stringent quality standards and regulations appearing in the food safety space posed another challenge. The company needed to easily integrate latest industry best practices in the food safety compliance space into its audit and inspection processes and keep up with latest developments.
Lack of single integrated system: Absence of a common integrated platform was affecting the company's audit operations in terms of planning, scheduling inspections, resourcing, time tracking, workflow management, handling customer specific addendums, to name a few. Inability to automatically aggregate the information for analysis, slow and laborious manual aggregation with a risk of inconsistency, lack of common approach for capturing data elements were some of the specific issues the company was trying to resolve.
"MetricStream provides a holistic view for critical decision making – and we believe the solution has greatly strengthened our food safety initiatives while improving our overall goal of seeking operational efficiencies that will secure customer confidence and satisfaction," articulates the spokesperson of the company.