How to Prepare Your Team for an IATF 16949 Certification?

Know more about IATF internal auditor training. See which materials are needed, how to create an IATF audit checklist, assess their expertise, and standardize the improvements that you’ve made.
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Published on:
29 March 2024
Updated on:
22 May 2024

In our previous articles, we have introduced what is IATF 16949 certification and how to get an IATF 16949 certification. Organizing an IATF 16949 certification for your plant is a long and rigorous process. It’s not a one-person task and requires the collaboration of your entire team.

Hence, it is crucial to prepare your team properly for this certification. Your team’s understanding of the IATF 16949 standards and how they work greatly affects your chances of success.

We will start with the basics of this certification. Then, we’ll show you how to assess your team’s IATF 16949 knowledge. Afterward, we’ll introduce you to standard work instructions and how you can use them to standardize your improvements.

To help you get started, we included a free Manufacturing Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) & Work Instructions Template (in PDF and Excel formats) in this article. This template will be useful in standardizing your work tasks – which we’ll discuss further in this article.

In addition, you’ll also find a free Skills Matrix Template that’s editable using Excel, Google Sheets, and other spreadsheet tools. This handy template can help you assess your team’s expertise on the IATF 16949 standards.

IATF 16949 Certification Basics

The IATF 16949 is a quality management certification for automotive manufacturers. It’s managed by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF).

It’s the automotive industry’s primary quality management certification worldwide, besides the generic ISO 9001 certification series. As of January 2024, there were 93,908 IATF 16949-certified production sites globally.

The IATF 16949 certification can be applied to all automotive manufacturers. This includes plants that make automobiles, their components, accessories, or anything automotive-related. As a result, a vehicle’s entire supply chain can be IATF 16949-certified.

Check out our introduction to IATF 16949, its chapters, and examples of clauses to learn more.

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How to Obtain an IATF 16949 Certification?

To be IATF 16949 certified, your plant must pass an external audit done by an official IATF auditor organization. The audit should show that your plant complies with IATF 16949’s required Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and attributes.

This official audit itself doesn’t take long. It typically takes a few days to a few weeks (depending on the plant’s size) to complete. However, the audit preparation process is far longer. Depending on the plant’s readiness, It can even take up to a year!

Preparing Your Human Resources for IATF 16949 Certification

The first step to get started is putting together an internal IATF 16949 certification team. This team will handle your plant’s entire IATF 16949 certification process, including its preparation. Ideally, it should consist of a representative from every workstation in your plant. Thus, there’s a contact point for each workstation.

After the team has been formed, it’s time to prepare them for the certification process. Before taking the IATF 16949 certification audit – which will be done externally by accredited IATF auditors, you’ll need to perform an internal audit.

An internal audit is separate from the official IATF audit. This internal audit will be done by your own team members (known as internal auditors). It’s done to check your plant’s existing compliance rate with the IATF 16949 standards.

The internal audit should replicate the official IATF audit. Your team should include all of IATF 16949’s assessed KPIs and attributes. The KPIs and attributes assessment method should also follow the official guidelines. For more trivial details, see IATF 16949’s questions and answers PDF guide.

As previously mentioned, your certification team should consist of employees from every workstation in your plant. They will become internal auditors for the workstation they represent.

As internal auditors, they will evaluate whether their workstation fulfills the required IATF 16949 KPIs and attributes. If there are non-conformities, they must make the necessary improvements to comply with these standards.

In general, there are 3 phases to prepare your human resources for IATF 16949 certification, which are:

  • Training
  • Assessment
  • Improvement Standardization

We will discuss each phase in detail in the following section.

IATF 16949 Training

The first phase is to train your team members. As internal auditors, they should have a good understanding of the following areas:

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g must always include:

  • The purpose and scope of these standards.
  • The KPIs and attributes assessed in these standards.
  • The auditing principles, methodologies, and techniques mentioned in these standards.
  • The industry regulations that these standards are referring to.

You can purchase their guidelines and supporting documents on the IATF and ISO websites.

Why Is ISO 9001 Included Here?

IATF 16949 supplements the ISO 9001 standards. In several clauses, it even asks its users to refer to specific parts of the ISO 9001 standards. Hence, understanding ISO 9001 is necessary for anyone using the IATF 16949 standards. Find out more in our IATF 16949 vs ISO 9001 comparison.

Planning an IATF 16949 Internal Audit

To perform an internal audit, your team must know all the KPIs and attributes assessed in this certification. Additionally, they must know how to compile them into an effective IATF 16949 audit checklist.

An audit checklist is a list that contains all KPIs and attributes mentioned in the IATF 16949 certification. Moreover, it should also include the compliance status of the related KPI/attribute and a space to write the auditor’s remarks.

In addition to listing your KPIs and attributes, the digital checklist helps you visualize your audit’s progress and timeline to ensure that everything is on schedule.

Besides conventional text remarks, you can also add images and videos to your digital checklists. This will add extra clarity to your digital checklists and minimize errors.

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Performing and Evaluating an IATF 16949 Internal Audit

Furthermore, your team should know how to measure and evaluate your plant’s IATF 16949 KPIs and attributes. In general, measuring them is relatively straightforward. The IATF guiding documents contain technical guidelines for assessing each KPI and attribute.

Besides gathering data on these KPIs and attributes, your teams should be able to evaluate their findings. This means that they can assess which KPIs and attributes of your plant conform to the IATF 16949 standards and which ones don’t.

Use our 100% paperless audit software for a smooth internal audit experience. With the right audit tool, you should be able to plan, execute, and manage multiple audits simultaneously. At the end of each audit, you’ll need to generate a report. To save time, make sure the tool you select can automate this for you.

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Learn More About Azumuta’s Audits & Digital Checklists

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Establishing IATF 16949-Compliant Procedures

The IATF 16949 standards require each plant to have various technical procedures for quality assurance. Thus, your team must know how to establish and effectively run these procedures before the official IATF 16949 audit takes place. Examples of these procedures include:

  • A mechanism to halt production whenever a defect is detected.
  • A procedure to ensure that all machines with measurement capabilities (e.g., thermometers, weighing scales, digital torque wrenches, etc.) are always accurate.
  • A system to document all product development-related activities.

In addition, these are also non-technical procedures that should exist in your plant, such as:

  • A whistle-blowing mechanism.
  • An employee code of conduct.
  • A proper communication system to ensure that your customers are always well-informed about their product.

Should You Book Training Programs from External Organizations?

As shown previously, preparing your team for an IATF 16949 certification isn’t easy. There are so many aspects that your team must learn. As an individual, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of these responsibilities.

But don’t worry! You can always hire an external organization to train your team! They will provide the IATF 16949 training courses and help you train your internal auditors.

Many organizations provide IATF 16949 training. To ensure its relevance, it’s best to contact an official IATF auditor organization for your training needs. You can check their websites and see their IATF 16949 training offers.

The price of their service will greatly depend on the type of modules you choose, the number of participants from your organization, and the training format (in-person or online). To get a better picture, you can request a quote from your preferred official IATF auditor.

Assessing Your Team’s IATF 16949 Expertise

Besides training your team on IATF 16949 technicalities, it’s equally important to assess their knowledge. After the end of each training session, you can create an IATF 16949 quiz for your employees. The questions in this quiz should be both generic and specificThe generic questions should concern general IATF 16949 matters that everyone on your team should know.

For example: “How do we maintain an effective internal communication system within our organization?”

Meanwhile, the specific questions should ask about workstation-specific issues.

Here’s an example of a specific question you can ask an employee from the workstation that installs a car’s lights: “You found that an LED headlight that you’re about to install into a car has less brightness than our standards. What will you do?”

Afterward, convert their quiz results into a skill matrix. Use skills matrix software to help you with this task. Simply input your team members’ names and expertise levels.

If you are using Azumuta, it will color-code their knowledge levels and calculate their average value. Thus, you can view your team’s knowledge levels with just a glance. If there are employees who are lagging behind, you’ll know precisely which ones need extra training.

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Download Your Free Excel-Friendly Skills Matrix Template

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You can also generate individualized employee reports. They contain all relevant data on each employee – including their personal data, expertise levels, and training history. Therefore, you’ll have instant access to both team-wide and individualized expertise reports – all under one roof.

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Learn More About Azumuta’s Skill Matrix & Training

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Improvement Standardization

Once you’re satisfied with your team’s expertise levels and the process improvements they’ve made, it’s time to standardize the process. The idea is to make these improvements permanent even after the IATF 16949 certification process is done.

Document and share these improvements with your team by turning them into standard work. Use digital work instructions software to create simple and effective standard work documents. Be sure to include visual elements such as images, videos, and symbols to make them interactive and easy to follow. For a deeper dive, see our guide to standard work and its examples.

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Learn More About Azumuta’s Digital Work Instructions

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To help you standardize your production processes, we provide you with a free SOP & Work Instructions Template below.

Download Your Free Manual in Creating Paperless Work Instructions & SOPs

Download Checklist

Try Azumuta Today!

See how Azumuta has helped Nitto to achieve remarkable improvements: a 100% paperless shop floor, 100%, a 60% reduction in data entry time, a 35% reduction in documentation time, and a 0% operator idle time.

Not yet convinced? Be sure to check other success stories as well. Our Digital Work InstructionsAudits & Digital ChecklistsQuality Management, and Skill Matrix & Training modules will make your compliance effort to the IATF 16949 standards an effortless and seamless process. Use Azumuta as your primary IATF 16949 software tool.

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Previously, as an organisation, we relied heavily on the discipline of the operators to fill in the necessary production reports. With Azumuta we can send the necessary reminders to the operators if necessary. Moreover, we can monitor in real time whether they have actually filled in the production reports at the scheduled time.

Jurgen Koppens
Production Coordinator at Nitto

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