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Determining interested parties and their requirements according to IATF 16949:2016

Regarding interested parties, IATF 16949 does not require anything more than does ISO 9001. Even so, given the increased focus on interested parties seen in the new ISO 9001:2015 revision, organizations would do well to make sure they understand what interested parties are, and which are relevant.

It can be difficult to know right away who the interested parties may be, relevant to your Quality Management System (QMS). And, once you figure that out, you may wonder what exactly to do with that information. This article aims to help you figure out who your interested parties are, and how they might affect (or be affected by) your QMS processes.

What is a relevant interested party?

As mentioned, IATF 16949 has the very same requirements regarding interested parties as those listed in ISO 9001; so, let’s take a closer look at what ISO 9001 has to say. The current ISO 9001:2015 standard mentions interested parties and their needs and expectations early on—in Section 4.2, right after the requirements about understanding the organization and its context. This is because interested parties can play a role in the company’s ability to consistently deliver products and services that comply with legal requirements, and meet the needs of customers. So, what exactly does ISO 9001 require?

To comply with the standard, companies must determine who the interested parties are, relevant to the Quality Management System, and which of those parties’ requirements could impact the QMS. You will need this information, particularly the interested parties’ requirements, all through the QMS, so you’ll want to make sure you collect all the necessary information in the beginning. To do so, begin by examining the following categories:

  • Customers: IATF 16949 emphasizes focusing on customers even more than does ISO 9001, so this is one group of interested parties who deserve extra attention. After all, whose needs, expectations, and requirements could be more important than those of the people who use your product or service directly? The way your customers will use your product or service will determine how that product or service should be created.
  • Governments & other organizations: In a lot of industries, products and services must meet minimum legal and regulatory requirements, or face heavy fines. Additionally, you’ll need to determine the expectations of certain other organizations, like consumer advocacy groups, which could clarify customer expectations regarding performance and durability of your product or service.
  • Employees: No one wants to say they work for a company known for defective products or inferior services. Regardless of whether your employees actually use what you produce, they would prefer to work for a company known for developing products and services that fulfill user needs and expectations.
  • Shareholders: The performance of your Quality Management System impacts the cost of your product or service, which directly affects your bottom line—the main focus of most shareholders. Continual improvement will likely be of particular interest for this group.

Why do you need to know your relevant interested parties?

Determining relevant interested parties is not just a one-off activity; ISO 9001:2015 builds on this knowledge in the fulfillment of several additional requirements. You will need to understand the needs and expectations of the groups above (and possibly others) to successfully perform the following QMS processes:

  • The scope of QMS must take into account the needs and expectations of relevant interested parties (Section 4.3).
  • The Quality Policy must be accessible by relevant interested parties where applicable (Section 5.2.2).
  • Measurement traceability must be supported if expected by relevant interested parties (Section 7.1.6).
  • Product and service requirements should include any called for by relevant interested parties (Section 8.2.3).
  • Activities during design and development must address the needs of relevant interested parties, especially regarding the expected level of control during the design and development process (Section 8.3).
  • When conducting the management review, concerns of relevant interested parties must be addressed (Section 9.3).

Proper QMS planning needs to include relevant interested parties

When you have a good grasp of your interested parties’ needs, requirements, and expectations, you’ll come to realize how vital this is to making sure your product or service fulfills all requirements. This is, after all, the central reason for having a Quality Management System. Therefore, before beginning to plan and implement your QMS, take the time to determine your interested parties and understand their needs. Without this crucial preparation, end users are much more likely to run into problems with your products and services.

This free white paper will provide you with details of the most important documents: Checklist of Mandatory Documentation Required by IATF 16949:2016.

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