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IATF FAQs and How to Utilize Them

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Photo by Cyrus Gomez on Unsplash

By Kim Roan – simpleQuE Consultant, Auditor and Trainer

In March 2019 the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) released four new FAQs (#23-26).  A FAQ clarifies the intent of an existing IATF 16949:2016 requirement.   These FAQs are applicable to your Quality Management System (QMS) and can be found on IATF’s website.

Below are steps for utilizing these IATF FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):

Step 1 – Read the FAQs and stay current with updates.  The FAQs originate from questions asked by certification bodies and certified manufacturing organizations about the interpretation and implementation of requirements in IATF 16949:2016.  When a high volume of questions are asked about interpretation of a standard element the IATF will publish a FAQ to communicate their answer and interpretation to the automotive industry at large.  Reading FAQs can keep you on point with meeting the intent of the IATF requirements.

Step 2 – Analyze your processes against the published FAQ.  If your internal audit program meets the requirements of IATF 16949, you will already know what process in your organization meets the requirement clarified by a new FAQ.  Your audit plan should be created using a risk-based approach and special audits should be added to your plan when there are changes that impact your quality management system.  An update to the IATF FAQs should be viewed as a change that impacts your quality management system.  SimpleQuE recommends that special audits are planned to audit the process(es) impacted by the published FAQ to ensure that your organization’s interpretation and implementation of the element aligns with the interpretation released by the IATF.  These special audits can be performed by your competent internal auditors or by contracted second party auditors.  This practice of adding special audits can also be applied when the IATF publishes updates to their SIs (Sanctioned Interpretations) and when customer specific requirements are added or updated.  Adding special audits will allow analysis of processes impacted by change and provide evidence that your process is conforming to the change or clarification, or provide evidence that there is nonconformance that should be addressed through your corrective action process.

Step 3 – Address any nonconformance found during your special audit following your IATF 16949 compliant corrective action process.  Process owners should be engaged in the corrective action process.  Corrective action should include root cause analysis even if the root cause is misinterpretation of an IATF clause that was magnified by release of an FAQ.  Following root cause analysis, a corrective action plan should be outlined that includes due dates and ownership of action items.  Once corrective actions are implemented your process for verification should be followed to ensure effectiveness of all actions taken. Records of this process from analysis to corrective action must be maintained.

When the cycle is complete the result will be an improved process with potential positive impact through process effectiveness and efficiency.  These steps will also ensure that your processes remain compliant to current IATF and customer specific requirements resulting in fewer findings during third-party audit activities.  If you lack the resources to perform special audits, simpleQuE has a team of competent automotive industry experts ready to help your organization meet internal audit requirements and ensure that your QMS stays current in the face of industry changes.

About the author:  Kim Roan is a certified lead auditor for ISO 9001:2015 and IATF 16949:2016 in addition to a VDA 6.3 certified process auditor.  She completed her undergrad in Mechanical Engineering and Master’s in Psychology with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership.  Kim has over 20 years automotive industry experience including 10 years in leadership and management roles.   Kim’s work experience includes student and contract engineering with GM, 11 years working for a German automotive supplier in the USA and experience supplying OEMs in North America, Germany and Asia across the years of her career. 

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