What You Need to Know About Organizational Structure for Your BRC Audit

Organizational Structure

As part of your BRC food safety audit, you’ll need to prepare a document specifying your organizational structure. Because of the various requirements, this task can be complex, especially if you’re creating an organizational chart for the first time.

Based on the BRC Global Standards Self-Assessment Tool Issue 7 (July 2015) and the many forums dedicated to this topic on the International Food Safety & Quality Network, here is a brief guide to organizational structure for your BRC audit.

The BRC Global Standard for Food Safety

The applicable part of the BRC standard is section 1.2, reproduced below.

1.2 Organizational structure, responsibilities, and management authority

Statement of Intent The company shall have a clear organisational structure and lines of communication to enable effective management of product safety, legality, and quality.
1.2.1 The company shall have an organisation chart demonstrating the management structure of the company. The responsibilities for the management of activities which ensure food safety, legality, and quality shall be clearly allocated and understood by the managers responsible. It shall be clearly documented who deputises in the absence of the responsible person.
1.2.2 The site’s senior management shall ensure that all employees are aware of their responsibilities. Where documented work instructions exist for activities undertaken, the relevant employees shall have access to these and be able to demonstrate that work is carried out in accordance with the instructions

In plain English, this standard requires the following:

  • An organizational chart showing who reports to whom
  • Defined managerial responsibilities for food safety, legality, and quality
  • Who is responsible should the appointment person be unable to fulfill their role
  • A process for ensuring that all employees are aware of their responsibilities
  • Documentation that work is carried out according to plan

Two Common Questions About Organizational Structure

Here are answers to two common questions about the BRC organizational structure requirements.

Please note that this information is descriptive, based on information posted to IFSQN community forums. It shouldn’t be taken as prescriptive. For answers and procedures that apply specifically to your company, contact your BRC auditor.

Does the organizational chart need to include people’s names?

It’s a best practice to include specific names where possible. But, obviously, you don’t want to have to update the chart every time someone joins or leaves the company.

A common solution is to supply names of top-level managers, directors, and department heads, and then just job titles and numbers of employees for other staff. In addition, anyone whose position is specifically related to food safety should be listed by name, along with the name of their alternate.

For more perspectives on this issue, see the discussion: “Who needs to be named on the organizational structure chart?”

Who should QA managers report to — operations or the CEO?

One of the main components of an organizational chart is the lines of communication and reporting. Where do QA managers belong in this structure? Should they report to the head of operations or the CEO?

The issue here is a potential conflict of interest that can be created if QA is too closely tied to production. Many feel that, to avoid this conflict, the QA manager should report directly to the CEO.

In practice, who your QA managers report to will likely not affect your audit. As one forum contributor writes, “[Auditors are] more interested in management commitment than who reports to who. If Quality reporting to Operations is a problem, it will show up in management commitment.” Another writer concurs, “the issue is not who QA answers to but rather the management systems, reporting lines, and authority deployed to the QA manager from the senior officer of the company. This should be clearly defined in the system documentation supported by clear reporting of all management decisions.”

For more perspectives on this issue, see the discussions: “Should QA Manager report to Operations or the CEO?” and “Can the QA Manager Report to the Financial Controller?”

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