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What is an SQF Gap Analysis?

One of the first steps in your Food Safety Management System (FSMS) implementation project is to compare your current FSMS to the requirements of the SQF Code. This is most commonly called a Gap Analysis.

The most important tool for the Gap Analysis is the Audit Checklist. This is a list of the requirements in the code, written in question format. The auditor will use this list to compare your current system with the requirements of the SQF Code.

Learn more! Register for our online training: Gap Analysis Checklists and Tutorial Online Training. This training will provide you with checklists for ISO 22000 and the Prerequisite Programs for your industry. The tutorial will outline the steps for planning and conducting the Gap and instruct you on what to do with the information you gather.

Scheduling and Performing the SQF Gap Analysis

Schedule the audit ahead of time, so you can inform employees about the Gap Analysis. Allow enough time to do an in-depth audit. The more information you can provide the more efficient and effective your project will be.

When the audit has been completed, meet with the auditors to summarize the results. These results will be transferred to task lists for the implementation. This meeting should be held shortly after the audit, so that information is fresh in the auditors' memory.

A. Scheduling the Gap

Review the project plan:

  • Who did you identify to conduct the gap?
  • Schedule the Gap Analysis, and communicate to all employees what is being done, and why. You will want to be able to make the employees comfortable with answering your auditor's questions.
  • You may want to consider sending out a newsletter to inform employees that the Gap will be performed, by whom, when and why the Gap is being performed.

The audit schedule

  • Determine if you will audit by process/procedure or by area of the facility. Our approach is usually to audit by area of the facility.
  • Divide the facility into manageable areas.
  • Schedule time to audit each section of the standard that applies to the area.
  • If you are using an audit team, assign the team to cover the various areas of the facility.
  • Arrange your Gap Analysis checklists so each auditor will have the sections of the standard that are applicable in the areas they will cover.
  • Arrange your checklists so each auditor will have the sections of the standard that are applicable in the areas they will cover.

B. Conducting the Audit

Follow the schedule that you have prepared. Go into each area of the facility to evaluate the current quality system.

  • Focus on what is in place, and what is not in place. Remind auditors that you are not focusing on compliance or non compliance to the current system, but on the design of the current system, and how it matches the SQF requirements.
  • Take notes on what is in place, and what will need to be developed and changed. Take complete notes, reference documents and examples.

C. Reporting

Summarize the audit findings in the form of a task list. You will usually identify several categories of tasks.

  • Processes that comply with the standard and are documented.
  • Processes that comply with the standard and must be documented.
  • Processes that do not comply with the standard and must be redesigned.
  • Processes required by the standard that are not currently in place.
  • For each requirement (or set of requirements) of the standard you will want to identify the status of the current system. The Steering Team will use this information as they assign responsibility and timelines to Teams. Task Teams will be assigned responsibility for development of a procedure.

Use our detailed audit checklist and training for an effective Gap Analysis.