ISO/TS 16949
Six Sigma
State Awards



by Radley M. Smith

For a complete clause-by-clause comparison of QS-9000 to ISO/TS 16949, download ISOTS16949.pdf

Hurt by reduced demand and intense pressure for cost reductions from many of their customers, automotive suppliers are becoming aware that the quality management system requirements document QS-9000 will at some point be superseded by something with the mysterious designation, ISO/TS 16949:2002. Of course, change increases anxiety, but this change can be understood with a bit of study. The release of this new document is expected this month. It was approved by an international vote of the ISO member bodies, and possible incorporation of changes recommended during that vote should not delay the release.

North American Registrars Accredited to Provide ISO/TS 16949 Certification

ABS Quality Evaluations Inc.

British Standards Institution (BSI)

American Quality Assessors (AQA)

AQSR International Inc.

Bureau Veritas Quality International (BVQI)

Deloitte & Touche*

Det Norske Veritas Certification (DNV)

DQS German American Registrar for Management Systems Inc.

Eagle Registrations Inc.

Entela Inc.

Excalibur Registrations Inc.

International Quality Systems Registrars Ltd.*

  • Telephone: (905) 565-0116
  • Web:
  • *Accreditation pending

ITS Intertek


  • Telephone: (313) 983-0354
  • Web:
  • *KPMG's registration division has recently been acquired by BSI Inc.

Lloyds Register Quality Assurance (LRQA)

  • Telephone: (281) 398-7370
  • Web:



NSF International Strategic Registration Inc.

Quality Certification Bureau (QCB)

Quality Management Institute (QMI)

Smithers Quality Assessment

Steel Related Industries (SRI)

TRA Certification (TRA)*

TÜV Essen

TÜV Management Service

TUV Rheinland

Underwriters Laboratories


 The most obvious reason for the new requirements document is the release of ISO 9001:2000. Because QS-9000 is based on--and organized in accordance with--ISO 9001:1994, the new standard required a major revision to QS-9000. The change in organization from 20 elements to five major processes in ISO 9001:2000 is now mirrored in an automotive supply chain manual. But this change, as sweeping as it is, forms only the most obvious part of the transition.

 Chrysler (pre-Daimler), Ford and General Motors had already built a bridge to the European automotive industry with the development of ISO/TS 16949:1998. Although still based on ISO 9001:1994, this little-used document contained only modest changes from QS-9000. Nevertheless, it significantly enlarged the base of companies using the common requirements by including all of the major European automakers. In the process, the document's status changed from a proprietary document completely developed and controlled by DaimlerChrysler, Ford and GM to an international standard.

 The transition from QS-9000 to ISO/TS 16949:2002 has two aspects: the new document itself and the registration process. Let's look at each from the point of view of a QS-9000-registered supplier.

 The concept of "process" is basic to ISO 9001:2000 and therefore to ISO/TS 16949:2002. The elements of any process are inputs, a value-adding stage and outputs.

 ISO 9001:2000 combines this basic concept with W. Edwards Deming's plan-do-study-act approach to continuous improvement. Although most of the requirements of the earlier ISO 9001 are present in the new standard, the emphasis has changed. The requirement is now for a number of interrelated processes, rather than a number of individual functions that fulfill the requirements of the standard. Although it's easy to map the ISO 9001:1994 (and QS-9000) requirements to those of ISO 90001:2000 (and ISO/TS 16949), such an exercise misses the point. The new standards are concerned with how the requirements are met--namely through defined processes that are continuously improved.

 Many automotive suppliers (and perhaps ISO 9000-registered organizations) generally view the QMS documentation (quality manual, procedures, work instructions and records) as the essential core of the requirements. Therefore, they develop processes and procedures around those requirements. The result is most often a QMS that can be registered, but one that adds no further value to the organization. The process of upgrading to ISO/TS 16949:2002 gives automotive suppliers a fresh opportunity to get it right (i.e., to put in place a QMS that does add value while facilitating registration).

 In fact, the process orientation of the new standard cries out for a systematic evaluation of current processes using simple process flowcharts. Another aspect of the opportunity offered by the upgrade is the chance to broaden participation by using multidisciplinary teams to flowchart the processes. With valid and complete process flowcharts, a team will usually be able to simplify the processes, sometimes dramatically. The simplified process flowcharts can then be measured against the requirements of ISO/TS 16949. Where there are shortfalls, the team can determine the most efficient way of revising the process to meet the requirements.

 The team-based approach contrasts sharply with the approach used by many suppliers to obtain QS-9000 registration. It used to be that an individual, perhaps the quality manager, was responsible for obtaining registration. This person would hire a consultant, presumably on the assumption that QS-9000 could not be understood by supplier personnel. Whether that was true or not, it's certainly now true that any company registered to

QS-9000 can understand ISO/TS 16949, convene a multidisciplinary team and successfully conduct the upgrade process while improving the organization's productivity and quality. Consultants can facilitate the process if the organization has no natural leaders, but consultants should never be allowed to "install" their idea of an ISO/TS 16949-compliant QMS. The optimum system for each supplier will be unique to that supplier's production processes, customers and personnel.

 Once the QMS has been upgraded and implemented for three to six months, an internal audit should be conducted prior to the registrar's audit. The results of the internal audit should be reviewed by the same team that developed the upgraded QMS. This way methods can be further improved, with resulting gains in productivity and quality.

 A supplier must then determine if its current registrar is accredited for ISO/TS 16949. The automakers have, in effect, developed an "approved supplier list" for ISO/TS 16949 registration. The need to limit the number of acceptable registrars was indicated by the variation that was found in the quality levels of QS-9000 suppliers. A list of the approved registrars is shown on page 30. Also listed are registrars that have applied for ISO/TS 16949 accreditation, but it's not safe to assume that all applicants will ultimately be accredited.

 The great unknown at this time are the various automakers' requirements for ISO/TS 16949 registration. One obvious possibility is that companies registered to QS-9000 (or ISO/TS 16949:1998) would have to upgrade to ISO/TS 16949:2002 by Dec. 15, 2003. This is in fact the date by which all ISO 9000:1994 registrations must be upgraded to ISO 9001:1994. However provision has apparently been made to permit use of the ISO 9001:1994 text after the December deadline.

 It's possible that each automaker will have unique requirements, perhaps with staggered target dates depending on the criticality of the supplier. As always, the direction on each customer's requirements will come from your customer, so ask them.

 Each automotive supplier should understand that the way in which it upgrades its QMS will have significant impact on their costs as well as its quality performance. An investment in a team-based upgrade process should defray its initial costs quickly and then contribute significantly to reduced costs, higher productivity and therefore, higher quality.


About the author

 Radley M. Smith is associate director of quality systems with Management Resources International, where he provides training and consulting services for the automotive industry supply chain. During a 30-year career with Ford Motor Co., he was co-author of QS-9000. Subsequently he was director of the Automotive Division of KPMG Quality Registrar. He is also the author of The QS-9000 Answer Book and the forthcoming ISO/TS 16949 Answer Book (both published by Paton Press). E-mail him at . Letters to the editor regarding the article can be sent to .

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