What You Should Know When Preparing for IATF 16949® Certification

SimpleQuE’s automotive quality experts have put together some helpful information and steps to take when preparing for IATF 16949® certification.

What is the background of IATF 16949®?

IATF 16949®  is the international standard for Automotive Quality Management Systems (QMS).  IATF 16949® was created by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) in 1999 to provide a single, globally accepted quality standard for the automotive supply chain. The latest version IATF 16949:2016® is based on ISO 9001:2015 and designed to be used in conjunction with the ISO 9001 standard.  IATF 16949® emphasizes the development of a process oriented QMS that provides for continual improvement, risk analysis, defect prevention and reduction of variation and waste in the supply chain.  The goal is to meet customer requirements efficiently and effectively.

How many sites are IATF 16949® certified worldwide? 

As of October 2019, there were 75,970 certified sites, with China holding almost 50% of the global certifications.  And the United States comes in at 3,882 certified sites.  (Refer to our blog and infographic for IATF® certifications worldwide.)

What Are the Benefits of IATF® Certification? 

  • Qualify as an automotive industry supplier – certification demonstrates that you are able to provide high-quality products with no defects and inspires trust that you will deliver what is promised.
  • Meet Client Requirements – More and more customers are demanding that their suppliers be certified. If your business doesn’t meet certification requirements, you could be losing out on sales. 
  • Improve Customer Satisfaction – improving satisfaction improves your chances of repeat business. 
  • Increase Revenue – Studies show that certified organizations are paid more on average, have better sales growth and an improved ROA (Return on Assets). (source: iso.org) 
  • Reduce Waste – By establishing the rigor of a Quality Management System, you can reduce inefficiency and make the most of your business’ time and resources. 
  • Monitor Brand Image – Maintaining quality in your organization minimizes the chance of a slip-up or error that could hurt your reputation. 
  • Engagement and process ownership – more engaged employees are motivated to manage and improve their processes and that’s good for corporate culture. 
  • Manage Risk – By adopting these standards, you will learn how to best identify and mitigate threats to your business model.

These are some of the benefits to consider for being IATF 16949® certified.  Most importantly, as your company grows, becoming certified will be vital to fostering continued success in the future.

How Long Will It Take to Become IATF® Certified? 

The amount of time it will take depends on whether you are already ISO 9001 certified, have a management system in place, or are just developing one for IATF® certification.  From program inception to registration usually takes 8 to 18 months, with the average being 12 months.  Timing can always be accelerated with resources – internal and external.  Once you have obtained certification through a Certification Body, your organization must demonstrate through internal follow-up audits, that the processes documented to bring your company into standards compliance are being followed. Keep in mind that:

  • IATF 16949:2016® is not a stand-alone quality management standard, but is implemented as a supplement to, and in conjunction with, ISO 9001:2015
  • Companies being audited for IATF 16949® are still going to be audited to the ISO 9001:2015 requirements, as well as the additional requirements of the IATF® standard

When is IATF 16949® certification not the right choice?

To implement and maintain an effective and efficient automotive QMS requires hard work and dedicated practices.  Under some circumstances a company may not recognize the full benefits of certification.

  • If employees are not dedicated or committed to following the standard
  • If it is not a requirement of your customers
  • Tier 2 or 3 suppliers may not need IATF certification

What are the barriers or roadblocks to becoming IATF® certified?

  • Not enough time, money and/or resources to support implementation and maintenance
  • Not having the full commitment of leadership

What are the steps to take for IATF 16949® certification?

  1.  Perform a gap analysis
    • Prior to implementation or upgrade to a new standard, review the standard and identify where your system is already in compliance with IATF 16949® and ISO 9001, and focus on those areas where there are gaps.  
  1. Document your management system
    • Identify your core or business processes.
    • Develop documentation that meets your business needs. (Policy statements, objectives, manuals, work instructions, job descriptions, forms.)
    • Encourage employees to help develop documents to build ownership and awareness.
    • Review, approve and distribute the documents to those who need access to the information.
  1. Implement your system
    • Ensure procedures are being performed as documented.
    • Ensure employees are trained properly for the tasks they are performing.
    • Create effective reporting systems.
    • Monitor the effectiveness of your processes through the use of measurable data, where possible.
    • Review and take action to improve in the areas required.
  1. Verify that your system is effective
    • Plan internal auditing activities.
    • Conduct audit and review for compliance and effectiveness. Observe processes in action, interview people and sample records.
    • Identify and report strengths and weaknesses of the management system.
    • Take corrective or preventive action as required.
  1. Register your system
    • Select the appropriate Certification Body for external registration.
    • Submit your management system documentation for review to ensure it complies with the applicable standard.
    • Prepare for review by an external auditor to confirm that the system’s requirements are being satisfied and that the management system is implemented effectively.

How do you cross the finish line to become IATF® Certified?

If you’re searching for an IATF 16949:2016 consultant, our team at simpleQuE is well positioned to support your IATF 16949® and MAQMSR consulting (Minimum Automotive Quality Management System Requirements), certification, maintenance, training and internal auditing needs. Our consultants are qualified, certified, and are experts on the automotive standards, customer specific requirements, and AIAG or VDA core tools. In addition, many are current or former 3rd party auditors who bring valuable insight because of the knowledge gained from auditing for certification bodies.

SimpleQuE also offers a full line-up of IATF 16949 training courses which includes AIAG and VDA Core Tools, Root Cause Analysis and Problem Solving, Requirements and Implementation.  With IATF® also putting a major focus on internal auditor competency, it is essential to have IATF 16949® Internal Auditor Training. Our IATF 16949® auditor training utilizes the process audit approach. Contact us to learn more about the customized services offered to match your certification and training needs.

SimpleQuE is not associated with the IATF®, IAOB, ANAB®, IAQG®, and is not a certification body. SimpleQuE is an independent consulting, training, and second-party auditing service provider that assists a company on a path for the company to obtain and maintain certification through accredited certification bodies.


Learn More About The simpleQuE Advantage

The simpleQuE Advantage Begins Here! Contact Us Today