Why remote audits are not allowed for IATF 16949

As we already know, management systems certification bodies are conducting remote audits for standards other than IATF 16949, initially considering an identification of risks and opportunities that may affect the effectiveness of the audits.

Given the COVID-19 situation, IATF (International Automotive Task Force) has defined that remote audits for the IATF 16949 Quality Management System (QMS) are not allowed. IATF believes that there is a high risk in diminishing confidence in the effectiveness of an audit like this. The IATF 16949 audits evaluate the effectiveness of all requirements that must be met by a certified organization in a strict and effective way, which is difficult to do under a remote audit.

IATF 16949 Remote Auditing: Why is it not allowed

What has been defined regarding compliance with IATF 16949 scheme rules?

Faced with this situation, IATF has defined a document called “Global Measures of the IATF in Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19).” The objective of this document is to define the guidelines so that all the stakeholders of this certification scheme will know how to act to mitigate the impact on the continuity of the audits and certification processes.

For the certification processes of the organizations that are within the IATF 16949 Rules for Certification Scheme 5th ed., this Global Measures document defines a series of waivers that must be applied by the certification bodies, without having to request in a specific way for each situation of a particular company that presents itself.

What do IATF Global Measures define in response to the COVID-19 situation?

IATF has granted a 6-month extension to each certificate issued and currently valid. This will be reflected in the IATF Database and will be visible later on in the validity of the certificate.

IATF is granting an additional extension of X calendar days, which generally corresponds to 90 days more, which should be understood as additional days to the maximum times, according to the IATF Rules for Certification Scheme 5th ed., in order to avoid suspension or withdrawal of the certificate, as appropriate.

What is IATF 16949 Monitoring?

In the last update of the Global Measures document, a monitoring method was developed for certification bodies and certified organizations.

It is a method for certification bodies to request information from certified organizations by IATF 16949 to remotely monitor and evaluate the status of their QMS. This activity is not a remote audit, so it is not a substitute for the audits performed at the manufacturing site or remote locations that certified organizations must submit once the situation normalizes.

The objective of this monitoring is to evaluate the effectiveness of the QMS of certified organizations during this extraordinary period of the COVID-19 pandemic and to identify the risks that may be presented in a company where it has not been possible to visit, after exhausting all extension times defined as Global Measures by IATF.

Monitoring will be performed by an auditor, provided that the following criteria are met:

  • The recertification or surveillance audit cannot be performed within the allowed time interval and times described in the Global Measures document.
  • The organization is manufacturing automotive parts or products for customers.
  • The third-party IATF 16949 auditor cannot perform an on-site audit for reasons that are linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In the case of any customer who requires the certification body to perform IATF 16949 monitoring due to unacceptable previous performance or previous audits with major non-conformities.

For the purpose of monitoring, the certified organization must provide the certification body with the same audit planning information as defined in the IATF Rules for Certification Scheme 5th ed. In addition, the organizations must provide information on all the contingency activities defined by the organization associated with the COVID 19 situation, which ensures continuity in compliance with CSR, technical requirements, and on-time deliveries, according to the customer request.

Monitoring will be performed remotely, where technological tools, conditions of confidentiality, security of information, and knowledge of all people must be ensured to use the defined technology.

The minimum information to be reviewed corresponds to all the items of the QMS that may impact the effective continuity in the fulfillment of technical requirements of the manufactured parts and the timely supply according to customers’ needs.

The auditor will analyze all the information collected, and he will define the conclusion. The auditor should issue a report to the certified organization, including all information normally generated in a report under normal conditions, and a description in addition to the recommendation to the certification body.

The results of IATF 16949 Monitoring are used to identify risks for certified organizations. The identified risk is used to prioritize company sites for subsequent on-site audits, and potentially increase on-site audit days where such audits are possible due to the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

Considerations to be reviewed

At the moment, the company decides when to be audited, considering that the requirements of IATF 16949 will be fully addressed.

Consider the IATF 16949 QMS to be a tool to support you in reactivating operational activities. Consider the risk analysis, before all the possible situations that may be presented to you, and to which you must define mitigation actions, in order to achieve the fulfillment of objectives defined by the top management.

The IATF 16949 QMS is a robust system that will help organizations in this time of crisis, and define decisions that allow you to reactivate yourself in a safe and reliable way for all these parts within this scheme.

Have you, as an organization, already reviewed the maximum dates of submission for your on-site audit according to the IATF 16949 Rules for Certification Scheme 5th ed.? Have you already contacted your certification body to take action in accordance with these Global Measures defined by IATF? 

To learn more about the IATF 16949 implementation steps, download this free IATF 16949:2016 Implementation Diagram.

Advisera Sandra Pinto
Sandra Pinto
Sandra Mireya Pinto S. is an International Automotive Auditor for IATF 16949, with studies in MBA and an emphasis on quality and corporate social responsibility. Experience in manufacturing processes with requirements of Quality Management Systems & customer-specific requirements for suppliers to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) for International Sector Driven. Conformity Assessment Specialist in standards, and Lead Auditor for other management systems such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and Lead Assessor for ISO IEC 17025 Testing Laboratories and ISO IEC 17065 Schemes Product Certification. Specialized Consultant in definition and development of international cooperation projects, management systems, conformity assessment and continuous improvement (Black Belt Six Sigma – Lean Manufacturing).