IATF 16949 Driving improvements in Automotive Standards

Compliance Management, Management Systems


ISO/TS 16949, a technical specification for automotive sector quality management systems, has become one of the most widely used international standards in the automotive industry, harmonising the different assessment and certification systems in the global automotive supply chain.

On October 3rd, 2016 IATF 16949:2016 was published by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) and supersedes and replaces the current ISO/TS 16949, defining the requirements of a quality management system for organisations in the automotive industry. Certification to 16949 is mandatory for organisations who wish to manufacture parts for the automotive industry.

ISO/TS 16949 was first developed in conjunction with ISO’s technical committee for quality management, ISO/TC 176.  As a result, ISO/TS 16949 integrated with ISO 9001 by including specific requirements from the automotive sector. The first edition was released in 1999 and was based on ISO 9001:1994. When ISO 9001:2000 was released, it was followed by second edition of 16949 in 2002, third edition in 2009 after ISO 9001:2008 and fourth edition (and current) in 2016 after ISO 9001:2015.

This latest edition of 16949 is different from its predecessors as it was developed by the IATF with industry feedback and engagement by Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) members representing North America. It is the first edition to be referred to as “IATF 16949”, rather than “ISO/TS 16949”.


Although not technically an ISO document it is still aligned with the latest version of ISO 9001 (as stated earlier) fully respecting its structure and requirements.

The move away from ISO publishing the standard to the AIAG publishing it, does not mean that IATF 16949 is going to act as a standalone quality management standard, meaning organizations in the automotive sector seeking IATF 16949 certification must also comply with ISO 9001:2015.

The structure of the standard is aligned with Annex SL framework ensuring it follows the same structure of other management system standards released since 2012. Annex SL has 3 parts: the high-level structure (Clause 1-10); identical core text; and common terms and core definitions.

The requirements outlined in IATF 16949 are fully aligned with those in ISO 9001:2015 high level structure (it shares the same general section headings and clause structure as ISO 9001:2015, without reciting the text). Unlike its predecessors and other industry specific standards, it only contains the automotive specific additional requirements.

Having IATF 16949 follow the same structure of other management system standards will allow automotive organisations to more easily integrate it with other standards such as ISO 9001 (quality), 14001 (environment), and 45001 (health & safety), etc. as leads to the removal of conflicts, duplication, misunderstanding and confusion between clauses in different standards.

Transition Timeline:

Driving Improvements in Automotive Standards

Driving Improvements in Automotive Standards


Organisations transitioning from ISO/TS 16949:2009 to IATF 16949 must transition to the new standard through a transition audit in line with the organisation’s current regularly scheduled recertification audit or surveillance audit, as defined in the IATF Rules.

Summary of the Key changes

The key changes to the new Standard relate to:

  • Top management engagement with the application of ‘risk-based thinking’ to minimise the likelihood of failure during new program development and to maximise the potential realisation of planned activities
  • Need to adopt a process to assess the risk of changes and take appropriate action
  • The integration of many common industry practices previously found in customer-specific requirements, such as:
    • Manufacturing feasibility
    • Warranty management
    • Temporary change of process controls
    • Supplier quality management system development
    • Second-party audits
    • Control plan
    • Problem-solving methodologies
    • Control of changes
    • Total productive maintenance
    • Standardised work
  • Clearer definitions of ‘customer requirements’ and ‘customer-specific requirements’
  • Additional requirements for both first and second-party auditors along with minimum competencies for auditors
  • Being required to document processes for the management of product-safety related products and manufacturing processes to ensure product safety throughout the entire product lifecycle
  • Manufacturing feasibility i.e. being required to assess their capability of achieving the performance and timing targets specified by the customer
  • Addressing and integrating all applicable customer-specific requirements and warranty party analysis procedures to validate No Trouble Found (NTF), where product warranty is required
  • New requirement relating to development of products with embedded software surrounding product validation, warranty and troubleshooting of issues in the field


The benefits of an organisation implementing IATF 16949 is include:

  • Receipt of recognition from regulatory authorities
  • Production of safer and more reliable products
  • Meeting or exceeding customer requirements
  • Improvements of processes and documentation systems





Annex SL , Automotive Standards , Driving , IATF 16949 , International Automotive Task Force , international standards organisation , ISO 9001:2015 , Quality Management Systems
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