In my last blog, I began to outline what Total Quality Management is and Cartel’s commitment to becoming Quality Compliant. In this article, I will provide a brief core sample of how Quality Management pertains to customer-facing and supply chain documentation. It is my contention that attending to Quality Management across these document groups  can improve internal efficiency and customer service.

Whereas quality marketing material is critically in enabling businesses to attract and educate new customers, customer facing material extends far beyond the “meet and greet” of marketing.  Some of the supply chain documents include:

External Documentation:

  • Order acknowledgement
  • Delivery Note
  • Invoice
  • Purchase Order


Internal documentation also includes:

  • Sales Order/Quote
  • Engineering Worksheets
  • Work-Orders


Documents are part of an ongoing conversation with and about customers, and, as such, all documents must align in terms of style and branding. This consistency is more than just the logo. It’s the font style and size, the amount of white space needed, the legal agreement. The document itself should be clear and concise, and it should be evident to their readers where it fits in that conversation. The best way to accomplish this is to undertake a rethink of all the documentation in a work flow scenario, then make the changes to match the current pattern of activity, even to the point of improving company processes.

Our previous purchase order (PO) form, for example, lacked the updated branding and had limited information. The document has gone through a transformation. Stylistic changes, including updated fonts and increased spacing, have been implemented. Content, useful for the user and receiving party, has been introduced. However, the most critical addition to the PO form is the inclusion of terms, which serves as an agreement between buyer and seller.

As a group (Supply Chain), we are currently redefining internal and external documentation. Each member of the group (logistics, sales support, order entry, and materials) provides feedback on each document for review. In looking at the documents in their present state: is it useful? Is it clear? Does it have the required legal terms? To support this project, all associated ‘Best Practices’ and SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures), are also being examined to ensure that they stay consistent with any changes made to their related document(s).

After the documents have been reviewed; we try to continue gathering information about them.  It’s easy to check the analytics on a blog posting, but how do you measure the success of an invoice? If you aren’t getting emails and calls back about it. Its probably working. If you are, it’s probably not. All this work requires a thoughtfulness and commitment to continual engagement.

The first document we undertook to review was the invoice. I redesigned that a year ago and I am now undertaking to review it again. The process of quality control is always ongoing.

Finally, don’t forget, make sure you update your processes to match your updated documents. Get better always. In my next blog we will look at Operating procedures and best practices.


Allan Cowdy, Operations Manager


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