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Build a Quality Management System from scratch, or improve the old stuff? Which strategy should be chosen?

It is not every day that an organization decides to build up a Quality Management System (QMS) from scratch.

When can we have such a dilemma if we should build something new from scratch?

Or if we should try to fix and update the old system somehow?

I guess there could be at least three primary reasons if an organization considers this question.

  1. The old QMS does not effective at all

Some symptoms could be:

  • repeated major non-conformities in the last years, suspension of the certification,
  • customer escalations, permanent issues with customer satisfaction,
  • continuous struggling with the fulfillment of the customer requirements.

These are just symptoms and not causes. In such a case, a systematic root-cause analysis is necessary to understand the real reasons.

If it is evident that the QMS can not support the organization’s goals and fulfill customer requirements and reach customer satisfaction, intervention is necessary.

But you can not decide about the appropriate strategy without fully understanding the systematic causes behind the symptoms.

  • Greenfield investment in a new location

It often happens that a global supplier opens a new plant in a new location, maybe in a new country.

Should we take and copy (adapt) an existing QMS from another sister plant?

Can it work in a different environment by another organization, maybe with a different organization structure?

How about employee culture, discipline, the mentality is the same?

There are certain risks that a simple “copy & paste” approach will not work; adaption is necessary.

It is frequently said that “it does not make sense to reinvent the wheel,” but how much change is necessary to achieve the expected result? After so many changes, will we have the same robust system?

Which is the higher risk?

Inventing something which fits the new organization, to the working culture, start the building from scratch?

Or make changes/updates to the copied systems?

Indeed, there are not only black and white answers. It is also possible to take the best practices from the “copied QMS,” select those we expect will bring the desired results, and define the other necessary processes from scratch.

When can we expect a higher probability that the QMS will be accepted and followed by the organization?

Will they accept the QMS if they were copied from a different plant?

Not involving the organization in the definition of the processes can quickly result in an excellent system rarely followed by anyone.

  • A supplier steps into the automotive business, and it is a requirement from the customer

The target can be to reach a minimum an ISO9001 or an IATF16949 certification.

In this case, I suppose it is a more simple situation.

Copy and paste can not be an option because that will not work in a different organization, where there was already a particular way of workings method for years.

Updating the existing procedures seems to be the right choice.


In particular situations, it can be a dilemma on which strategy should be used to build up the Quality Management System.

There are many pros and cons which need to be considered.

We should always keep in mind that the ultimate purpose of the QMS is to reach the organizations’ goals and fulfill the customer requirements and reach sustainable customer satisfaction through continuous improvement of the processes.

There are no simple answers. A systematic approach is needed to make the right decisions.

As always, think in system with Pro Automotive.

If you are interested in reading articles about automotive quality management topics, best practices, case studies, follow Pro Automotive.


Know the standard from your heart! (?)

  • Have you already read the standard from the first page till the end? – asked me the manager who was responsible for the Quality Management System.
  • Well…not all pages…- I admitted.
  • Then go away and come back when you did! -he replied. – I will not talk to you before.

Wow, what a rude guy -I thought, but I did not express my feelings.

I recently joined the company as a customer quality engineer and got a list of managers I need to talk as part of my onboarding process.

The” standard” he meant was the ISO/TS16949; now, it is replaced by IATF16949.

I thought he was impolite, and he could be more helpful to a new guy, but anyway, I followed his advice and read through the standard.

For many years I thought he was right – rude, but right. He was sick of explaining everything many times.

Ten years later, I found myself in the same position, responsible for the Quality Management System (QMS).

As it was a greenfield project, the task was also to build the QMS from scratch.

When we worked on the onboarding system, I remembered this unpleasant memory again.

Is it really a fair expectation that an engineer who talks to customers is familiar with the whole IATF 16949? Is it a requirement?

It definitely makes sense, and it is an advantage for sure.

But was this the right answer from the manager?

I doubt it.

His answer just proved that there were some rooms for the QMS improvement.


  1. Roles and responsibilities – competence issue

What were the requirements for my position, were they appropriately defined? Was the ISO/TS16949 described as a must?

  • Lack of assessment of my competence against the requirement and appropriate action plan.

If the position required that knowledge, why was then not a lack of competence identified and relevant actions defined?

Who should be an expert on the standard? Should all engineers read the norm at home when they can not feel asleep? (They will probably fall asleep in 3 minutes.)

How will they know which part of it relevant’s their job? How can they apply what they learned in their daily work?

There is a better answer.

Engineers do not need to be an expert on the IATF16949. They do not need to know that from their heart.

It is our (who are responsible for the QMS) duty to make sure that the internal procedures are aligned with the standard requirements.

Our duty is that the onboarding system is robust enough and includes all internal procedures (documented processes) necessary to perform the specific job. This is what we should focus on.

Do not expect that everyone knows the standard from their heart.

Have robust QMS, which ensures that our daily work is aligned with the expectations from the norm.

As always, think in system with Pro Automotive.

If you are interested in reading articles about automotive quality management topics, best practices, case studies, follow Pro Automotive.

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