Supplier audits have played an essential role in supplier technology qualification and supplier quality assurance for many generations of hardware offerings, including computer servers, storage systems, and associated computer hardware products. Most recently, IBM’s hardware offerings have focused on the enablement of cloud computing, big data and data analytics, mobile transactions, and cognitive computing. The complexity of system design and technology integration has increased tremendously for these product offerings. In addition, it’s important to note that the electronics hardware supply chain has been undergoing substantial consolidation over this same period. Therefore, it is important to ensure the relevance of the approach and practice of supplier audits, so that supplier audits would continue to effectively mitigate quality risks for future generations of product offerings.
This paper introduces a holistic approach to enhance the effectiveness of technology qualification and quality assurance audits to address the challenges in both internal design complexity and external industry dynamics. The approach focuses on streamlining governing processes in audit execution and auditor training, as well as on IT and mobile applications development that further enables streamlining. To illustrate these points, this paper presents examples and case studies from electronic card assembly and test (ECAT) audits conducted across several contract manufacturing suppliers.