Add IATF 16949 to Improve Your Quality Management

Certifications: Add IATF 16949 to Improve Your Quality Management

As the automotive supplier market continues to grow at a steady rate, quality has become harder to ensure and maintain. One vehicle system may have dozens of suppliers involved in its supply chain; with many moving parts, quality control becomes a natural concern. Regulating quality among these suppliers is key to delivering safe, dependable products that satisfy consumers’ needs. To address these concerns with quality control, the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) – a group consisting of many automotive manufacturers and trade associations – recently published a new set of regulations aimed to help maintain quality amid automotive suppliers, entitled IATF 16949:2016.

Certifications: Add IATF 16949 to Improve Your Quality Management

What is IATF 16949?

The most current version of IATF 16949, IATF 16949:2016, is a quality management standard (QMS) published by the IATF. This standard is a large document composed of 10 sections which outline processes and procedures that automotive manufacturers should have in place to ensure the quality of their goods. The standard is internationally recognized to be one of the most prominent quality management standards in the automotive industry, and having an IATF 16949 certification is an effective way to communicate to potential customers that they can trust the quality of your products.

How IATF 16949 relates ISO 9001

IATF 16949:2016 is based off the standards listed in ISO 9001:2015 and is meant to compliment the latest version of ISO 9001. IATF 16949 modifies and expands on many of the sections listed in ISO 9001 to appeal to the automotive industry. However, IATF 16949 standards and guidelines aren’t meant to be used without first implementing the standards put forth in ISO 9001.

How IATF 16949:2016 relates to ISO/TS 16949:2009

The latest version of IATF 16949 is an updated version of ISO/TS 16949. When ISO came out with their newest standard, 9001:2015, IATF saw the need for an updated automotive standard that would incorporate the changes made between ISO 9001:2009 and ISO 9001:2015. ISO/TS 16949:2009 will no longer be valid after September 14, 2018.

Thankfully, a quick internet search yields a number of comparison matrices which display the differences between IATF 16949 and ISO/TS 16949; the American Systems Registrar (ASR) makes a very detailed one, available here: ASR Comparison Matrix.

While there are well over a hundred differences between IATF 16949:2016 and ISO/TS 16949:2009, some of the major changes and additions between the two documents include:

  • A new sub-section entitled “Understanding the organization and its context
    • Highlights ideas surrounding internal/external issues, and the relationship between strategic direction and quality management systems
  • Explanation of the requirements and processes which should be in place to address product safety
    • Responsibility definitions, traceability measures, and information flow
  • Emphasis on corporate social responsibility
    • Including the requirement of regulations like anti-bribery policies and an employee code of conduct
  • Better defining process and program owners
    • Ensuring they understand their roles
  • Extra attention on risk analysis
    • Prevention and overall actions intended to address risk
  • Requirement for a supplier assessment and selection process
    • That analyzes potential supplier risks which could affect supply to the customer
  • Inclusion of products with software embedded
    • Including the need for an appropriate software development process
  • Introduction of second-party auditors
    • Why they might be used
    • When to consider using them
    • How to use them
How to Get IATF 16949:2016 Certified

Two main IATF certification processes exist.

One allows for an individual to be certified as an auditor and the other allows an organization to be audited and for the facility to be certified. To become an auditor, you must take a training course and then pass an exam. This course usually takes 4-5 full days and requires some previous knowledge/experience of quality management systems.

The process for a facility to become certified is much lengthier. First, the facility must collect data for a minimum of one year in which at least one internal IATF compliant audit was done. After this collection phase, a series of audits and correction periods will take place in which the auditor will review documentation and sample certain processes. Once a facility passes these audits, it’ll receive a certification. If a facility is already ISO/TS 16949, they may request a transition audit take place during their next regularly scheduled audit.

The cost and timing for these certifications vary among facilities and certification bodies. In general, the larger your facility, the more time and money it’ll take you to implement IATF standards and audit your facility. If you’re considering certifying some of your employees or your production facility, the IATF has published a publicly available official list of recognized certification bodies, reach out to one or more of these organizations for additional information.


Quality management is no simple task, that’s why standards such as IATF 16949 are heavily thought through and discussed among many industry experts before they’re published. While it may take a large amount of resources to implement standards like these, you should find that getting a QMS certification is well worth the time and money. Not only can these standards help you improve the efficiency of your facility and the quality of your parts, but certifications help you, as a supplier, communicate to potential customers that you deliver satisfactory products. In an increasingly competitive market, QMS certifications are a great way to increase your value proposition and win more business.