A customer requests a copy of our Quality Handbook



That's correct, Chris. I'm talking about my top level document, the Quality Manual, which is about 30 pages in length and is a high level look at the company's policies. It contains nothing proprietary.

Tier 2 would be procedures, Tier 3 would be work instructions and Tier 4 would be records, minutes, logs and other kinds of objective evidence.

Some industries seem to be asked for the tier 1 document more than others. You may be in one that doesn't ask a lot.


As our Quality Manual exists right NOW, under QS, I'd have no problem giving out a copy (we also get the request a lot) - but we're taking the approach under TS that the SUM of all our procedures, control plans, work instructions, flow charts, etc, IS our Quality Manual - we're not going to produce a separate "spit the standard back" manual - so in that case, no - I would claim "proprietary" and try to find out more about what they NEED to see.
RosieA said:
Hi Mr. Veen,

Maybe it isn't a common practice in the EU, but asking for a copy of a supplier's Quality Manual is pretty common in the US.
Yes it is... or at least it used to be extremely common, but those requests have become much more rare latley. Nowadays most customers seem to be satisfied with a copy of the certificate.

Hello and welcome to the Cove :bigwave: ChrisF.

I was just thinking: The Manual may not be the very best place for strictly confidential information. Our manual is more or less the bare minimum of what the standard requires. See ISO9001:2000 4.2.2.

Have a look at:

What is acceptable quality manual content?
Help - Tips on updating Manual (1994 - 2000)
!!!!!!!!!!!!How BIG is Your Manual? Nervous Breakdown Inside->
Quality Manual Structure

Get a manual

Always beating me to the good thread posts! ;)
IMO, write the 8-10 page manual that just meets 4.2.2. Put your scope, quality policy and a guide to the rest of your system in there. I don't like to argue with customers, if they want a manual I send 'em a manual. I want them to know my quality policy and that I have a system! 99% just go away because they have satisfied their (mis)interpretation of the 7.4.1 purchasing process.

I am wondering what has changed your approach to a QM during the move from QS to TS? I am not questioning your reasoning, this is not an attack. I am really interested.



I've never been a big fan of "quality manuals" as they existed under QS9000. Frankly, I've just never really seen the POINT of the document - a spitting back of the standard and a very brief, vague statement saying yup, we do that. Ours has been worse, maybe, than some others because it is corporate produced - all the more vague to throw a blanket over all the divisions. Consequently, it's a "dead document," in my humble opinion and experience. I've NEVER seen a surveillance auditor do more than ask to see that we HAVE one - they've never so much as cracked the cover. Even customer audits when a customer has asked me about it they either are satisfied to KNOW that we have one or they just want to see the cover. What a waste.

Compounding my frustration with it, over the years I can't tell you how many customers have requested that I complete a 10-20 page, element by element "survey" to ensure them that we have a quality system in place (along with a copy of my cert, of course) AND then also request a copy of the quality manual - didn't I just tell you in the survey that we had a quality system? Is that plus the presence of a cert not enough?

Under TS, unlike QS, there isn't the requirement that the quality manual be a separate document - it actually implies it can/should (I think so, anyway) contain all this stuff you have to have anyway for TS. So why do all the work associated with TS and then ALSO produce a separate "quality manual" document? If someone wants to know about my quality system they'll do what they've ALWAYS done - look at our cert, our audit results, our procedures, control plans, fmeas, etc.

All IMHO, of course

Cari Spears

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Claes Gefvenberg said:
I was just thinking: The Manual may not be the very best place for strictly confidential information. Our manual is more or less the bare minimum of what the standard requires. See ISO9001:2000 4.2.2.

I was thinking the same. I have no qualms about sending our manual to any outside party. Anything that we would not like competitors to see is in our Business Plan. We do not have any procedures with proprietary information - so I also send out our procedures to anyone who asks. In the past I have worked for companies that had proprietary procedures. For example they had patents for the friction material we bonded to transmission and brake parts. These "recipes" were kept in the lab and could not be distributed outside of the lab, let alone the company.

As many stated above - even if the intent is to get a peek, I say have at it. Many covers, suppliers and customers helped me create ours. Although I looked at dozens of manuals and used the best of them all, I still created a manual that was specific to our company. I often offer up our manual and procedures to help out suppliers too. I document it in their file as a supplier development action.


Change Agent and Data Storyteller
Super Moderator
I, too, have no problem handing out our Quality Manual. There is nothing confidential in our top level document. If they wanted procedures and work insturctions, I may have more of a difficult time swallowing that pill. If they was product characteristics and fabrication standards...not a problem...straight from ASTM...nothing out of the ordinary there, except that we have tighter tolerances.

The only problem I have with my Quality Manual is that it is in QSI which is not Microsoft friendly. In other words, unless the receiver has QSI, they can not read it. When a Customer wants a copy, it's sent via fax or snail-mail or pony-express...tried carrier pigeon, but a few would always get lost and that meant a few pages were missing for the Customer. :vfunny:


Thank you for all the warm welcomes.
See, I knew I could learn something (understatement of the day). Im thinking I can add a manual (table of contents) that is very basic, addresses standard without detail, to supply to customers who ask for it.
Many thanks to those who share their knowledge here. Im new to the QM position and really have no formal training. This forum is one of the best tools I have come across in trying to understand, find and develope a "friendly" manual.

mr. veen

Thanks everybody

Thanks for all of your replies.

I can see two camps here, so it's up to yourself whether you want to give it or not. I have asked some fellow quality managers in The Netherlands, and they all find it a strange request from the customer. But, if it is normal in the USA, it will fly over to the Netherlands (like everything else).

I hope tom start some new Threads with interesting discussion material soon.

Bye for now,

Mr. Veen

Paul Simpson

Trusted Information Resource
The question is "Why?"

I agree that there is no problem to send copies of quality manuals, I used to have to do it frequently. Again I don't have a problem with customers getting some fantastic ideas from reading my wondrous writing but I have always asked the customer why becuase it is typically overkill by someone in the purchasing department following a dumb procedure.

In the bad old days questionnaires used to go out asking if suppliers were registered and a lot of suppliers who didn't want to go down the road cottoned on to the get out that they were "Working towards ISO 9000." So having been caught out by external auditors who noted that supplier X hadn't done much on his / her "working towards" over the last 5 years customers started asking for a bit more proof - hence "Send us your manual."

If the customer wants to know your status a questionnaire will do, if they want to know you're registered than a copy of your certificate will do, only if they want to review the adequacy of your system in meeting their expectations should they need to see the manual.
.....(Unless they're trawling for ideas!)
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