Customer's Supplier Quality Manuals used by Auditor in a TS 16949 Audit

D

dbzman

#1
Hello everyone!

I have a question about out last TS16949 audit. The auditor insisted on using our customers “Supplier Quality Manual” while performing his audit. HE said that the manual spelled out the customer requirements. We only have a few automotive customers so his audit was very focused. We have never had a customer require us to use their manual. Usually, during the quoting process, we ask the customer what their requirements are and they tell us. They never informed us that they had a supplier’s manual.

I think that we should add this question to our quoting process. Especially since many companies have these manuals.

However, should the auditor be auditing us to these manuals if the customer never informed/told/lead us to believe that we had to use them?

Thanks!

:D
 
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Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#2
Re: Customer Supplier Manuals and TS 16949 Audit

Hello everyone!

I have a question about out last TS16949 audit. The auditor insisted on using our customers “Supplier Quality Manual” while performing his audit. HE said that the manual spelled out the customer requirements. We only have a few automotive customers so his audit was very focused. We have never had a customer require us to use their manual. Usually, during the quoting process, we ask the customer what their requirements are and they tell us. They never informed us that they had a supplier’s manual.

I think that we should add this question to our quoting process. Especially since many companies have these manuals.

However, should the auditor be auditing us to these manuals if the customer never informed/told/lead us to believe that we had to use them?

Thanks!

:D
If your auditor was bringing in his own copy of a customer requirements manual and not verifying that there was an explicit requirement for you to use and abide by it, he's wrong. You need to check your customers' purchase orders and see if there's a reference to the manual(s) in them. If there is, then the requirements in the manuals form a part of the contract and you're obliged to use them. If there is no contractual requirement, you're not obligated.
 
#3
Re: Customer Supplier Manuals and TS 16949 Audit

Great answer, Jim!

I'm also thinking that this auditor was in over drive because of the witnessing auditor, so had to show they were auditing to 'customer requirements'. I'm of the opinion, that if he whipped it out of his back pocket (so to speak) and didn't confirm this as audit criteria, before the audit, he's off base yet again.

I'd be compiling a letter back to HQ to say this kind of 'gotcha' auditing is unprofessional and unwarranted.
 
Last edited:

howste

Thaumaturge
Super Moderator
#4
TS 16949 said:
This Technical Specification, coupled with applicable customer-specific requirements, defines the fundamental quality management system requirements for those subscribing to this document.
If there are customer-specific requirements (CSRs), the auditor is required to audit to them. In the advance data sent to the CB, you should have included a list of CSRs, which the auditor should have verified. He should have raised the question (preferably before the audit) if he had information about CSRs that you didn't include in the advance information.
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#5
If there are customer-specific requirements (CSRs), the auditor is required to audit to them. In the advance data sent to the CB, you should have included a list of CSRs, which the auditor should have verified. He should have raised the question (preferably before the audit) if he had information about CSRs that you didn't include in the advance information.
The bit you quoted from the standard says, "This Technical Specification, coupled with applicable customer-specific requirements..." (emphasis added). Whether the CSRs are applicable is a contractual matter, and is not determined by the standard or by auditors. You're absolutely correct that the auditor should have raised the question in advance, if there was a question.
 

howste

Thaumaturge
Super Moderator
#6
The bit you quoted from the standard says, "This Technical Specification, coupled with applicable customer-specific requirements..." (emphasis added). Whether the CSRs are applicable is a contractual matter, and is not determined by the standard or by auditors. You're absolutely correct that the auditor should have raised the question in advance, if there was a question.
Agreed. :agree:

One company that I audit does a thorough "contract review" of all CSRs (as all companies should!), and have in many cases established separate agreements with the customers. I can't audit against the standard CSRs in this case.
 

Sidney Vianna

Post Responsibly
Staff member
Admin
#7
Re: Customer Supplier Manuals and TS 16949 Audit

You need to check your customers' purchase orders and see if there's a reference to the manual(s) in them. If there is, then the requirements in the manuals form a part of the contract and you're obliged to use them. If there is no contractual requirement, you're not obligated.
Jim, you are correct from a contractual/legal perspective. It could be one of those cases where the customer has a bad process of clearly invoking all of the requirements associated with a purchasing order or contract.

Many times, a supplier quality manual gets issued and/or revised, and the contractual instrument used in a long term agreement never gets changed to reflect the fact that the supplier manual is now part of the requirements.

Once again, while the supplier might be "covered" from a legal/contractual point of view, if they fail to abide by the supplier manual requirements, now invoked by the customer, they might lose the business altogether.

It is "concerning", imho, when an external auditor knows about the existence of supplier manuals and the suppliers don't. Shouldn't the supplier be very aware of documents such as these? The existence of such documents should be no surprise to the supplier when they have a good working relationship with their customers.
 

Howard Atkins

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Admin
#8
There is a long history of suppliers not knowing about customer specific requirements.

I have been told recently that GM requirements are QS9000:bonk:

Customers don't tell, in a lot of cases the right hand doesnot know what the left hand is doing- there is no overall register,but according to the rules 3rd edition
5.7 Audit planning - all audits
The certification body shall ensure that an audit plan is established for each audit (initial, surveillance, recertification and special) to provide the basis for agreement regarding the conduct and scheduling of the audit activities.
The audit planning activity shall be undertaken prior to arrival on site and shall include as inputs to the plan a review of the following information supplied by the client:
a) all requirements of the client's quality management system implemented to meet the automotive requirements of those customers requiring ISO/TS 16949:2002 certification of their suppliers,
even when these requirements go beyond ISO/TS 16949:2002 (i.e. customer specific requirements ),
If I know that there is a CSR then the supplier must show me some form of waiver from the customer.
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#9
There is a long history of suppliers not knowing about customer specific requirements.

I have been told recently that GM requirements are QS9000:bonk:

Customers don't tell, in a lot of cases the right hand doesnot know what the left hand is doing- there is no overall register,but according to the rules 3rd edition


If I know that there is a CSR then the supplier must show me some form of waiver from the customer.
Sorry, Howard, but you're wrong. If the CSRs aren't contractually agreed to, they are not binding. These instances should be few in automotive work, but I have a feeling that the OP isn't referring to the B3 (or whatever they are these days). A CB auditor has no standing in expecting an auditee to abide by requirements the auditee hasn't agreed to, and furthermore, if the auditor wants to push it, the burden of proof is his.

As Sidney pointed out earlier, it's not a good idea for suppliers to be unaware of what their customers expect, but at the same time its incumbent on customers to make sure their suppliers are aware of their codifed requirements.
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#10
Re: Customer Supplier Manuals and TS 16949 Audit

It is "concerning", imho, when an external auditor knows about the existence of supplier manuals and the suppliers don't. Shouldn't the supplier be very aware of documents such as these? The existence of such documents should be no surprise to the supplier when they have a good working relationship with their customers.
I agree, but it has nothing to do with the question at hand. I've had instances where higher-ups approved customer supplier requirements without reading them, and when they did they considered some of the requirements unacceptable. But a CB auditor may not invoke CSRs if there's nothing in evidence to indicate that there has been contractual agreement to them.
 
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