ArrowStream Foodservice Blog

Optimize Foodservice Quality with Risk Management Systems

Posted by Kate Hubbard on Sep 18, 2020 9:00:00 AM

Gain restaurant quality control with advanced quality incident risk management. Continue reading to learn how centralized software systems achieve this.

Foodservice operators with outdated quality incident management (QIM) systems often discover an incident detrimental to their brand's reputation. 

However, suppose a customer experiences a consistent level of food quality in a restaurant chain. An efficient QIM system provides this and offers a higher return on investment for foodservice multi-unit operators and the organization’s bottom line. So, what is QIM?

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What is quality incident management? 

For foodservice supply chain and corporate management teams, quality incident management (QIM) is the process of analyzing quality trend data to prevent or address quality and service issues before they occur or spread. If an incident has occured, the next step is to identify the source of the issue and quickly resolve it. 

From late deliveries to torn packaging to raw food contamination, QIM is the most effective way to monitor, resolve and prevent quality incidents by providing efficient workflows and visibility into the incident. Organizations can then identify and capture quality issues in real-time, and analyze data to determine vendor performance.

Causes and risks of quality incidents in your foodservice supply chain

To efficiently handle risks that affect food quality, it’s essential to first recognize the most common threats faced by foodservice operators and supply chain staff. Gaining this awareness is conducive to forming your company’s best quality risk management strategy.

There are two types of incidents to look out for: food-related and non-food related. Though it may be seen as separate, often, non-food risks can become interrelated when quality issues arise.

Food-related risks to watch out for in your supply chain include:

  • Contamination caused by raw food
  • Out-of-date products or packages that contain foreign objects
  • Foodborne pathogens that can result in serious consumer illness
  • Ingredients that are allergens (these must be stated on the packaging for consumer safety)
  • Chemical residue from product preparation and processing
  • Foreign facility risks that occur within a globalized supply chain
  • Packaging defects or delivery damages 

Non-food related risks encompass service and logistics issues, so it’s crucial to have a proactive supply chain management strategy as a prevention method.

Non-food related risks within your supply chain include:

  • Late product and inventory deliveries
  • Out of specification inventory that cannot be used
  • Product shortages and substitution complications
  • External inventory damage
  • Inventory mispicks
  • Risks that can occur from noncompliance during freight management

To give you an example of both of these risks, the cases below demonstrate how business decisions (or a lack of them) can impact your business and customers.

Non-compliant Food Hygiene

A real-life case of a food-related risk that was not appropriately contained affected a meat supplier named Russell Hume, and the several catering businesses and pubs it supplied. Unfortunately, this list included the well-known chain of pubs throughout the UK called Wetherspoons. 

During this foodservice scandal, FSA inspections confirmed a Russell Hume facility to be within severe non-compliance of food hygiene regulations. This caused Wetherspoons’ chain to temporarily remove various meat products from their menu, in addition to ending their contract with Russell Hume, which resulted in financial losses for both the chain and the supplier.

Critical Inventory Shortages 

A financially costly case of a non-food related risk was when KFC, a fast-food chain that centers its menu on chicken products, ran out of chicken due to gaining a new storage facility that was not easily accessible to staff. 

These scenarios can be managed, and even sometimes avoided, with an organized and efficient quality control process and system. Choosing a system that offers management strategies regarding risk, incident, and crisis will ensure that you are prepared to competently offer quality and consumer safety.

Quality incident risks & events that require management support

Food safety recalls are heavily publicized in today’s world, causing substantial financial and reputation damage, a detrimental impact on many key supply chain players. 

Luckily, incidents can be managed with standardized and repeatable management processes. Response teams can navigate issue occurrences with transparency and accountability to promote a quick resolution before any problems escalate.

To gain a greater understanding of what quality incident management strategy is, let’s take a look at exactly what it’s seeking to achieve.

Proactive risk management 

The first goal is to provide risk management in your foodservice supply chain, which entails identifying and analyzing higher-risk processes and systems that may require extra monitoring.

It is equally as important to evaluate processes where the cost of risk management outweighs the benefits. Processes that are less risky can be periodically checked with a predetermined standardized company strategy.

If done consistently, heightened awareness and real-time visibility of potential risks will ensure that problems within the supply chain don’t arise. 

Supply chain incident management

The most important takeaway of quality incident management is how your company handles the issue. Reaching a faster and more conclusive resolution mitigates greater risk and helps your company move forward.

Efficient supply chain data tracking systems can help track this process. Additionally, foodservice operators or corporate teams can utilize the data to mitigate product damage and promote quality.

Foodservice crisis management

Although food safety crises should be avoided at all costs, it is possible to come back from these events. Your biggest priority should be customer safety and company accountability. 

This means that quality incidents should be stopped as early as possible, or prevented from developing to severe cases. 

When combining these three management strategies, you achieve an optimized strategy that navigates external and internal risk, while allowing you to confidently minimize quality issues. 

To logically prioritize your company's best management strategy in its current stage, determine its collective quality issues. Once highlighted, your company can develop a long-term strategy to improve overall foodservice quality.

How to improve your quality incident management process

The greatest resource for gaining quality control, identifying appropriate risks, and determining the optimal resolutions is data. With end-to-end food quality data and maximized visibility, your organization can assess all scenarios that arise within company operations. 

Choosing the right quality control system doesn’t have to be complicated if you can note the software features most necessary to your organization beforehand. To help you identify system capabilities that offer a return on investment, we’ve identified 4 features that advance measurable improvements. 

  1. Real-time complaint records of quality incidents

    Choose a system that enables restaurant employees, supply chain staff, and third-party partners to input quality issues or complaints. This data can be quickly shared with trading partners in real-time for fast resolution.

    In fact, with this capability, incident resolution can be streamlined to solve issues 50% faster than outdated manual systems.
  2. Verified incident resolution for supply chain members

    Confirm that successful agreed-upon resolutions have been completed by using automation to match your credits with your invoices

    An end-to-end supply chain solution further ensures you have visibility of outstanding credits so finances and resolution processes will not fall through the cracks. This feature can improve credit recovery by 20%.
  3. Improved data visibility and analysis

    Adopt a system with organized and intuitive data sets to leverage supply chain information and quality control optimization. Easily accessible data on supplier and third-party partners promotes transparency and communicates which quality metrics they should refocus on if there are issues.
  4. Real-time collaboration and communication tools

    Quality incident management tools improve collaboration and communication across multiple tiers of your supply chain and third-party partners. From promoting company-wide consistency to increasing awareness across supply chain incidents, teams can collaborate and develop workflows to resolve quality incidents effectively.

Next steps to improve quality incident control in your foodservice supply chain

Meeting product quality compliance can be made easy with the right tools at hand. When data, analytics, and expert-level reporting are combined with real-time collaboration, organizations can achieve the proactive risk-mitigation strategy to protect their brand and customers.

Interested in learning more about navigating supply chain and quality incident risk mitigation? Discover how quality incident management protects your brand’s supply chain resilience and food safety compliance.

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