Way back in the old days (like the 80's and 90's) there was not much of a need for any contract wording with your suppliers that would let you, the customer, conduct an audit. It just seemed like something of a right for a customer, because there was probably nothing to hide. Mutual objectives were spelled out, mutual understanding of processes and goals were determined, and if the customer wanted to verify such understanding, the supplier agreed. Why not? It was not unfair - it was not sneaky - it just made good business sense.
During my days at Xerox Corporation in the 90's, I was taught the concepts of total quality management. It was pretty simple - build your process based upon continuous measurements and improvements. Check and double check - simplify - and always raise the bar. In a lot of ways that is all we try to do at Topaz. Make sure things are working properly. Later, when I went to work at a large TMC, I was in fact audited by Topaz. But I appreciated it - because it uncovered things I could not see or did not understand - processes that needed to be fixed - employees that did not do their job (and were let go because of it) - or even problems caused by others, like contract rate loading that did not work properly.
In today's environment you must include in your contracts the right and ability to audit - when you, the customer, wants to audit. You should state that it can be done by your own company or an independent third party like Topaz. You should state it can be done for any length of time, at any time, and whether the supplier knows or does not know. Finally, and this is the new one, do not let any supplier tell you that to audit them, there will be additional fees. That is the new crime happening in our world - and it is a crime. Charging a customer for the right to verify success.
It is important to make sure your rights are preserved in the contract terms. If you need more specific information or wording, please just ask us here. Any of us at Topaz are happy to help you when you need it.