Why would a Quality Manual be "Proprietary"?


While updating some or our info on file from our suppliers we've sent several of them a "Please send us a copy of your Cert, or fill in the following form" letter. Most of the returns have been copies of ISO certs. One has filled in our form, having no cert. But about 3/4 of the 'answers' given are "Per Quality Manual".

So, naturally, I requested a copy of the Q Manual ... and was told "Our Quality Manual is proprietary to our location and we do not give that out." :rolleyes:

1) I've never heard of anyone refusing to share their Q Manual as proprietary info before - is this something others have encountered?

2) If I can't see your QM, than you can't use it as an answer to my questions!!:bonk:


Trusted Information Resource
I have no idea why you would ask for a quality manual. You simply should ask them to explain their answers to your questionnaire further.


Looking for Reality
Trusted Information Resource
If they don't have an ISO cert, why in the world would the have a quality manual?

Sounds like they didn't value your form much...time to find out how much they value your business. They don't seem like they hold it very highly.


Not out of the crisis
Super Moderator
Some companies' quality manuals are more than a top level snap shot of the QMS - they actually contain the main procedures which may include proprietary information
I would guess this is the case for a company that is not ISO registered.

This may be why ISO9001 is moving away from the quality manual requirement.

I would ask for more specific information


A quality manual would be proprietary if it explained how the business is structured and which operational units do what and how. Businesses are allowed to protect their processes and practices as their intellectual property.

You could audit your suppliers, and then you could see their quality manual. :agree1:


I have seen that people who dont share it is because they write some confidential informatoin and have two manuals,the complete and the short in which the things are written more simple and dont have the risk to share sensitive information.
Hope tbis helps


I've seen companies who will request a copy of just the Table of Contents of the Quality Manual. If you just want to know if they have a process in place, that should suffice.
When I started with my current company I noticed that the QM contained our 'special processes' all spelled out, which included proprietary information. I revised the manual and removed all this data and put it in a 'process manual', then the QM referred to the process title and process manual and nothing more. When asked for a QM by our customers (which is frequent), I include the index page of the process manual so they can see what processes we have and how they relate to the QM. I used a three tiered system, QM, Process manual, and Forms manual. Each refers to the next and they all interrelate.


Stop X-bar/R Madness!!
Trusted Information Resource
It makes you wonder why you would make the document that is the evidence that the company can meet the customer requirements unable to be shown to the customer...the one person you need to convince you can meet the customer requirements. :frust:


Sounds like they didn't value your form much...time to find out how much they value your business. They don't seem like they hold it very highly.

Kinda how we took it. If they were a primary supplier I'd be asking for more info, but as a 'contingency supplier' whom we haven't placed an order with in nearly 2 years I'm not going to spend a lot of time on them. Based on their response we might find a different second source.

I know if we gave that kind of lame response to the customers that do Quality Surveys on us we'd lose those customers. It was like a flashback to my teaching days ... the nightmare quarter where the freshmen begin to realize they are in high school and the teacher really will give you an F if you don't do anything.

Yikes.... now I'm gonna have trouble sleeping. :D
Top Bottom