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An Overview of IAOB’s New Complaint Management System

In 2022, IAOB launched a successful new program for handling complaints from IATF OEMs towards underperforming suppliers.

Automotive suppliers certified with IATF 16949 (the technical specification created by the International Automotive Task Force) are rated by their OEMs on a monthly basis. Three OEMs members of IATF—Ford, GM and Stellantis—follow a simple color-coding system: green for suppliers that meet their requirements, red for those that don’t. The rating is based on KPIs collected in scorecards. Although these are specific for each OEM, they generally take into account the compliance of supplied products with technical specifications and timeliness of deliveries.

For a supplier, a red status will lead to a performance complaint, initiating the decertification process.

Since 2020, IAOB (International Automotive Oversight Bureau, which oversees the IATF 16949 certification) has published this customer satisfaction information in the IATF KPI Hub system.

In April 2023, the Bureau announced that red suppliers in the IATF KPI Hub system would be transferred to the IATF Performance Complaint Management System (IATF CMS), integrated with the IATF Database.

How IATF CMS works

IATF CMS was introduced in March 2022 to provide a workflow tool to manage performance complaints. Once a complaint is initiated, a red supplier has six months to go from red to green. The process follows these steps:

  1. The relevant certification body (CB) receives the complaint and determines whether the certificate is to be suspended.
  2. The certified organization completes an analysis of the issues, documents their corrective action plan and submits their response to the CB.
  3. The CB evaluates the plan and the methods used for root cause analysis.
  4. The CB verifies the effective implementation of the corrective action plan through an audit.
  5. The CB determines whether to reinstate or withdraw the certificate.

Each step, including the suspension or reinstatement, is recorded in the IATF database.

For Sonia Rosas, NSF automotive technical specialist, the new complaint management system has brought more clarity and efficiency: “The early days were a steep learning curve, but now that everyone is familiar with it, it's giving us—CBs, suppliers, IATF and IOAB—a common language to work and handle customer complaints. Also, it removed a lot of manual tasks, which were time-consuming and often caused errors.”

The Red Supplier Coaching Program

In July 2023, IAOB announced the introduction of the Red Supplier Coaching Program (RSC) for red status suppliers who, at the end of the six-month correction period, couldn’t fix non-compliances and are at risk of having their IATF 16949 certificate withdrawn.

Once a supplier is approved for RSC, the program consists of three stages.

Loop 1: the CB conducts a special audit in the presence of IAOB coaches, who will remain at the supplier’s site for up to one week. The cost of this week of coaching is covered by IAOB.

Loop 2: if, at the end of Loop 1, IAOB determines that more support is needed, a supplier has the option to add one more week of coaching at its own expense.

If loop 2 is not successful either, then a supplier can be recommended for a voluntary Certification Intervention Workshop (CIW), also at its own expense.

Each loop typically lasts 90 days, while CIW can last for several weeks to months.

“The RCS program has been very helpful for those suppliers who were struggling in fulfilling OEMs’ requirements,” says Rosas. “Some of our clients have turned green after being in red status for more than nine months.”

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