The IATF 16949:2016 went into effect for the automotive industry in September 2018. Failure to comply can result in the inability to compete for new business and/or the loss of existing contracts. If your organization hasn’t yet achieved certification, the time to act is now.  

The first step is to ensure your corporate strategy covers your organization’s commitment to quality in every department and at every step of a process.

What Does IATF Compliance Have to Do with Corporate Strategy?

IATF 16949 is more than just a quality standard or compliance framework. At its heart, it’s a blueprint for operational excellence. It provides best practices and guidelines for every area of an organization, from human resources to supply chain management to customer relations. 

IATF 16949 mandates that executives get actively involved and that they provide tools and resources to support the requirements called out in the standard. 

Conforming to the requirements of IATF 16949 is critical to a company’s continued success. The punishment for noncompliance can be harsh. A company that fails to comply is barred from competing for new business for up to two years. Few companies have the resources to continue operating for two years or more without new orders.

A Quality Mindset Is More Than Just Compliance

Quality performance means more than just ensuring products conform to specs before they are shipped. Quality covers strategic sourcing and supplier management, on-time delivery performance, training, managing risk in the supply chain, and designing parts for quality and manufacturability, among other areas. 

If quality isn’t a company’s top priority, cracks can appear in the foundation and affect business operations: 

  • Delivery delays occur due to supply chain interruption.
  • Parts are delivered that don’t meet specs.
  • The chance of employee injury increases.
  • Critical engineering changes are lost in the shuffle and never implemented.

The end result? Costs rise. Margins shrink. Competitiveness suffers.

The Quality Continuum

Organizations may have some processes that adhere closely to quality standards, while others are not as highly evolved. Below is a chart outlining the stages of the journey to quality. As an organization progresses from poor quality management tools and practices to operational excellence, the company’s margins and profitability improve. 

Consider IATF 16949 an Opportunity to Change

Here are some examples of possible areas of strategic quality thinking:


There is little question that designing products with a quality mindset improves profitability. Production processes designed upfront to help prevent quality problems increase throughput and reduce unplanned downtime, scrap, and rework.  

By creating tools and fixtures that prevent incorrect assembly or by building in operational monitoring with SPC, a company helps improve delivery time and customer satisfaction. By focusing on quality upfront, even during the design phase, the company helps protect margins and keep costs low for the entire product life cycle.

Risk Management

IATF 16949 requires companies to identify areas of risk and then create plans to help mitigate the risks. Not only does risk mitigation keep the company up and running, it also helps prevent downtime at its customers’ sites. 

Alternate sources of supply, careful use of inventory, and the ability to outsource or switch production to another line are all risk mitigation strategies.

Education and Training

Ensuring that employees are trained as required is an important aspect of quality. Employees with the proper training produce higher-quality goods than untrained employees. They have better safety records and are less likely to slow production with improper procedures.  

Some government agencies, such as OSHA, require records of training.

CAPA and NCR Management

Engineering changes may be processed for safety, cost, or performance reasons, but the paper-based system many companies use to manage and track ECNs leaves much to be desired. There is little accountability for ensuring that changes are made on a timely basis, leaving the company open to risk as well as higher costs.

Supplier Management

Your company can’t service your customers unless your suppliers are reliable. Selecting reliable suppliers that have the same strong commitment to quality as your company is an important part of a quality initiative.  

In addition to upfront selection criteria, your team needs to continuously measure supplier performance and provide feedback that ensures you receive parts that meet your quality specifications and delivery requirements.

IATF 16949: More Than Meets the Eye

Addressing all aspects of a comprehensive quality and compliance framework such as IATF 16949 is difficult, if not impossible, without an equally comprehensive EQMS system. Addressing every aspect of the standard requires changes or adaptations throughout your organization.  

While it’s possible you could operate without a comprehensive EQMS system designed to conform to IATF 16949, it will be an expensive and cumbersome undertaking.

To learn more about how QAD CEBOS can help you transform your organization with our quality management services, contact us today.