What You Should Know When Preparing for IATF 16949® Certification

What You Should Know When Preparing for IATF 16949® Certification

How To Prepare For IATF 16949® Certification

Using decades of experience in the automotive industry, simpleQuE’s automotive quality experts have put together some helpful information and steps to take when preparing for the IATF 16949® certification. We dive into the IATF 16949® standard’s objectives, the benefits of certification for your company, potential challenges in obtaining certification, five steps to obtaining certification, valuable resources to help you on your journey toward certification, an alternative to certification, and how simpleQuE can position your company for success.

What is 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 aligned with the Annex SL based ISO 9001:2015 standard and designed to be used in conjunction with ISO 9001.  IATF 16949® defines the QMS requirements for the design and development, production, and when applicable, assembly, installation, and services of automotive-related products including those with embedded software.  

The automotive standard applies to internal and external suppliers that provide:

  • Production or service parts,
  • Production materials,
  • Assemblies,
  • Heat treating, welding, painting, plating or other finishing services directly relating to automotive parts

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-specific requirements efficiently and effectively.

8 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.

Becoming IATF® Certified Takes Time

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. But every organization is unique in terms of size and complexity and level of development of the QMS.  Timing will vary, but can always be accelerated with resources – internal and external.  Twelve months minimum of operational data is expected so that employees are familiar with the system and an evidentiary trail of documents has been created for auditors to review

Note that (based on Rules 5th Edition 6.5.1) for the initial Stage 1 audit planning, the Certification Body will require a list of documentation for review including:  key indicators and performance trends for the previous twelve months (minimum); evidence that all the requirements of IATF 16949® are addressed by the facility’s processes; and evidence of one full cycle of internal audits to IATF 16949® followed by a management review. (See Rules 5th Edition for a complete list.)

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. The registrar will also conduct surveillance audits at least once a year.  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.
  • Rules for achieving and maintaining  IATF® recognition – (also referred to as IATF® Rules 5th Edition) provides the key requirements that an organization must fulfill to achieve certification to IATF 16949®.

Alternative To IATF 16949® Certification: MAQMSR

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

Barriers To Becoming IATF® Certified

Similar to ISO implementation challenges, the most common IATF® certification obstacles companies face include:

  • Demanding requirements
  • Lack of top management support or understanding
  • Lack of cross-functional support and buy-in from critical process owners
  • Not enough resources allocated company-wide to support meeting all the requirements
  • It takes much more than the quality department to achieve and maintain IATF 16949®
  • Inadequate understanding and knowledge of the requirements relating to each functional area of the company
  • Too many other priorities with greater urgency, but less importance
  • Not getting outside help or expertise (clause 7.1.1 b)

SimpleQuE can provide guidance on how to deal with these obstacles.  “When we understand the real roadblocks holding us back, we can set our expectations and strategies to remove those roadblocks and move forward.” – Jim Lee, President, simpleQuE


5 Steps To IATF 16949® Certification

  1.  Perform a gap analysis
    • Prior to implementation or upgrade to a new standard, review both standards 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.)
    • Ensure that all relevant customer specific requirements (CSRs) have been identified and implemented as part of the QMS.  
    • 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 (CB) for external registration.
      • Accredited by an  IATF 16949® Global Oversight Office and listed as a recognized CB on the official IATF® website
    • 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.

 IATF 16949® Certification Resources

Guidance for certification can be found in these standards and reference documents:

IATF 16949® Certified Sites Worldwide & Why It Matters

Since 2002, the number of ISO/TS 16949, and now IATF 16949®, certified sites around the world has continued to climb. 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.) Some of the reasons for this growth:

  • Customer-specific requirement to be IATF 16949® certified
  • IATF 16949® requirements and state that supply chain risks dictate an internal plan for suppliers to be certified to IATF 16949®, or work toward IATF 16949® compliance or ultimately certification.
  • Companies are recognizing the value of being IATF 16949® certified.

So why do these stats matter to your company?

  • IATF 16949® is a requirement to be a supplier to the car and truck makers (OEM’s) around the world
  • IATF certification demonstrates that a supplier can provide high-quality products with no defects and inspires trust that they will deliver what is promised
  • The OEMs and higher Tiers have seen that suppliers who are certified have fewer quality escapes, fewer recalls, and have less problems than those suppliers who are not certified.
  • The IATF 16949® standard (clause requires plans for the supply chain to be working toward IATF 16949® compliance and ultimately certification
  • At a minimum, suppliers must be at least ISO 9001 certified, working toward IATF® compliance.

Understand Your Options

MAQMSR vs IATF 16949®

Consulting Services For ISO, IATF, AS, and more

We Can Help: IATF 16949® Experts a Click Away

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 Our IATF® consultants to learn more about the customized services offered to match your certification and training needs.

Obtaining and maintaining IATF 16949®, and meeting all of the related Customer Specific Requirements (CSRs), is difficult, which is why we’ve created free IATF 16949® tools, checklists and resources for your use

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.

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