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5 Essential IATF 16949:2016 Internal Audit Steps

IATF 16949:2016 provides the international specification and quality management standard for the automotive industry, based on ISO 9001:2015. Rather than being a stand-alone QMS, it is intended to be used in combination with ISO 9001:2015 and includes supplemental requirements specific to the automotive industry. Here are the five most important steps in the internal audit process.

The harsh reality is that an internal audit is immensely helpful to a process owner to bring fresh eyes to look closer into the process to find improvement opportunities, thereby assisting in the creation of a faster, more effective, and more efficient process. Continue reading to learn the five basic steps to conducting an internal audit, as well as best practices to assist process owners in identifying areas for improvement.

  1. Plan the audit schedule - Establishing an internal audit program, or audit schedule, and sharing it with process owners is important to the success of the internal audit process. The IATF 16949 standard requires that all QMS processes be audited every three years, and knowing when each process will be audited allows everyone to be prepared. The internal audit program must consider the complexity and significance of each process, prioritizing them based on past performance, risk, and importance. However, the internal audit program, like all good plans, must be adaptable. Customer complaints, process changes, and nonconformities - both internal and external - may indicate the need to review and adjust the program.
  2. Design the process audit – the organization has a basic outline of the audit plans and an idea of when each process will be audited, it's time for the internal auditor to meet with the process owners and confirm the best time to review each process. The auditor should review previous audits to see if any concerns or issues need to be addressed, and the process owner can mark out any areas he would like the auditor to focus on. The process owner should benefit from the audit process rather than be concerned about being "caught" doing something wrong.
  3. Conduct the audit - Before starting the audit, the IATF 16949 internal auditor should meet with each process owner again to ensure that the audit plan is feasible and that everyone is prepared. The auditor can then begin gathering the information he requires by conducting employee interviews, observing, reviewing IATF 16949 documents and records, and analyzing key data from the process. The goal of this data collection is to ensure that the process adheres to what is written in the Quality Management System and produces the desired results. Any areas where there is no evidence of proper operation should be identified, and the auditor should make a note of any aspects of the process that could be improved.
  4. Make a Report on the audit - Once the auditor has collected and analyzed the necessary information, a closing meeting with each process owner should be scheduled to discuss any problem areas in the process as well as any changes that could be made to further improve the process. These findings must be documented in record form as soon as possible for future reference and follow-up. When the auditor shares positive findings and potential improvement opportunities, rather than just nonconformities, the process owner is more likely to accept the results, realize greater benefit from the audit, and learn how to improve the process.
  5. Keep track of any nonconformities or potential improvements - Identifying problems and areas for improvement are useless until they are followed up on. It is important to ensure that any problems have been truly resolved after corrective actions have been taken. Furthermore, if aspects of the process have been improved as a result of opportunities discovered during the audit, knowing how much improvement has been realized will motivate process owners to strive for continuous improvement.

sarah francoise


Global Manager Group is one of the largest business management consulting and training company, offering services to organizations of all nature and sizes.

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