Does your warehouse or 3PL provider have an internal audit program in place? It is critical for all operations follow standard operating procedures (SOP’s) – that’s how you get to the quality we need to deliver on our promises.
Many warehouses and 3PLs struggle when there is a lapse in good practices, and this can be worse when a lapse in good practices goes unnoticed. SOPs act as a roadmap for an operating environment. An internal audit program can help detect when these lapses occur and improve operations quality. When a corrective action plan is put in place this can help an operation strive to be at the 100th percentile in compliance.
A good internal audit program will measure operations on how well they do in areas such as safety, security, sanitation, building and equipment maintenance, inventory accuracy, adherence to SOPs, utilization of WMS and customer requirements. When handling products, SOP’s should include food safety practices, training, and record keeping. These critical items, along with numerous sub-items, can be listed in an audit form or checklist. An internal auditor should be designated to perform the audits on a scheduled rotation. The auditor should document the corrective actions necessary and follow up with management to ensure that the corrective steps are taking place. If the program is assigned ownership and maintained well, it can be more effective than bringing in external auditors.
The key lies in finding the right candidate to serve as the internal auditor. This candidate should be removed from the operations, have an investigative nature, and be willing to look beyond the surface of the daily activities in order to uncover any gaps in protocol or performance. Creating an employee incentive, if results meet certain expectation levels or a particular score, will further strengthen the program and help drive facility participation.
An internal audit program will be supervised by a senior manager in the organization, but it will be most effective if procedures and protocols are maintained by all individuals within the organization. SOPs are also not a one-time deal; they need to be reviewed and revised regularly and be easily adaptable as organizations change their structures. The most effective audit programs require multiple parties getting involved and upholding an organization to a higher level of operations.