IATF 16949:2016 Clause 7.2.4 Second-party auditor competency

Second-party auditors play a vital role in assessing and ensuring the quality and compliance of suppliers within a supply chain. To be effective, second-party auditors should possess certain competencies. Here are some key competencies for second-party auditors:

  1. Technical Knowledge: Second-party auditors should have a strong understanding of the specific industry or sector they are auditing. This includes knowledge of relevant quality standards, regulations, industry practices, and supplier requirements. They should be able to interpret and apply these standards effectively during the audit process.
  2. Audit Methodologies: Competent second-party auditors are familiar with various auditing methodologies, techniques, and tools. They should be able to plan and execute audits, gather objective evidence, analyze findings, and make accurate assessments of supplier performance.
  3. Communication Skills: Effective communication is essential for second-party auditors. They should be able to clearly and accurately convey audit objectives, requirements, and findings to both suppliers and internal stakeholders. They should also be skilled in active listening, asking probing questions, and facilitating constructive dialogue during the audit process.
  4. Analytical and Problem-Solving Skills: Second-party auditors must possess strong analytical skills to evaluate complex supplier systems, processes, and data. They should be able to identify non-conformities, root causes, and areas for improvement. Additionally, they should be adept at problem-solving and recommending appropriate corrective actions.
  5. Ethical Conduct: Second-party auditors need to uphold the highest standards of integrity and professionalism. They should demonstrate ethical behavior, maintain confidentiality, avoid conflicts of interest, and act impartially during audits. Ethical conduct helps ensure fairness, credibility, and trust in the auditing process.
  6. Interpersonal Skills: Second-party auditors frequently interact with suppliers and internal stakeholders. Therefore, they should have strong interpersonal skills, including the ability to build rapport, negotiate effectively, and manage conflicts professionally. Collaboration and relationship-building are important for establishing trust and cooperation with suppliers.
  7. Report Writing and Documentation: Accurate and comprehensive reporting is critical for second-party auditors. They should possess excellent writing skills to document audit findings, observations, and recommendations in a clear, concise, and objective manner. Well-written reports enable suppliers to understand the audit outcomes and take appropriate actions for improvement.
  8. Continuous Learning: Competent second-party auditors embrace a mindset of continuous learning and professional development. They stay updated on industry trends, changes in regulations, and emerging best practices. They actively seek opportunities to enhance their knowledge, skills, and competencies through training, certifications, and networking.

It’s important to note that the specific competencies required for second-party auditors may vary depending on the industry, sector, and specific audit requirements. Organizations should define the desired competencies and establish training programs or qualification criteria to ensure the competency development and ongoing improvement of their second-party audit team.

Clause 7.2.4 Second-party auditor competency

The organization must demonstrate that the auditors undertaking the second-party audits are competent. . Along with the customer specific requirements for auditor qualification Second-party auditors must demonstrate the following minimum competencies: a) the automotive process approach to auditing, including risk based thinking, b) applicable customer and organization specific requirements; c) applicable ISO 9001 and IATF 16949 requirements related to the scope of the audit; d) applicable manufacturing process(es) to be audited, including PFMEA and control plan; e) applicable core tool requirements related to the scope of the audit; f) how to plan, conduct, prepare audit reports, and close out audit findings.

The organization shall demonstrate the competence of the auditors undertaking the second-party audits. Competency requirements are a match to internal auditors.This clause refers to second-party auditors and its purpose is to ensure they are competent and meet CSRs for auditor qualification and demonstrate the minimum core competencies and understanding of:

  • the automotive process approach to auditing, including risk-based thinking
  • applicable CSR and company requirements
  • the ISO 9001 and IATF 16949® requirements
  • manufacturing processes audited, including PFMEA and control plan
  • core tool requirements 
  • how to plan, conduct, prepare audit reports and closeout audit findings

Training a supplier quality audit team requires a structured approach to ensure that team members acquire the necessary skills and knowledge. Here is a step-by-step guide to training your supplier quality audit team:

  1. Identify Training Needs: Conduct a thorough assessment of your team’s current knowledge and skills. Determine the areas where improvement is needed, such as auditing techniques, quality standards, regulations, communication skills, and industry-specific requirements.
  2. Develop a Training Plan: Based on the identified training needs, create a comprehensive training plan. Consider the following elements:
    • Training objectives: Clearly define the goals and outcomes you want to achieve through the training program.
    • Training methods: Select appropriate training methods such as classroom training, workshops, online courses, simulations, role-playing exercises, and practical hands-on experience.
    • Training materials: Prepare or gather relevant training materials, including industry standards, auditing guidelines, case studies, and sample audit reports.
    • Training schedule: Determine the duration and frequency of training sessions, allowing sufficient time for practice and reinforcement.
    • Resource allocation: Identify trainers or subject matter experts who can deliver the training effectively.
  3. Conduct Training Sessions:
    • Classroom training: Organize interactive training sessions where trainers can present concepts, methodologies, and techniques. Encourage active participation and address questions or concerns.
    • Practical exercises: Provide opportunities for trainees to practice audit scenarios and conduct mock audits. This hands-on experience helps them apply their knowledge and develop practical skills.
    • Role-playing: Use role-playing exercises to simulate real-world audit situations, allowing trainees to practice communication, negotiation, and conflict resolution skills.
    • Case studies: Analyze and discuss real-life examples of supplier quality audit findings, non-conformities, and corrective actions. This helps trainees understand the complexities of supplier audits and learn from past experiences.
    • Online courses or e-learning: Supplement the training with online courses or e-learning modules that cover specific topics or standards. This can provide flexibility and self-paced learning opportunities for team members.
  4. Reinforce Learning:
    • Follow-up sessions: Conduct regular follow-up sessions to reinforce key concepts, address any challenges, and provide additional guidance.
    • Continuous improvement: Encourage ongoing learning and development within the team. Provide access to relevant resources, articles, webinars, and industry updates.
    • Feedback and evaluation: Gather feedback from trainees to assess the effectiveness of the training program. Use this feedback to make improvements and tailor future training sessions accordingly.
  5. Certification and Recognition:
    • Establish criteria for certification or recognition of team members who demonstrate proficiency in supplier quality audits.
    • Recognize and reward achievements to motivate and encourage continuous improvement.
  6. Stay Updated:
    • Supplier quality audit requirements, industry standards, and regulations may evolve over time. Ensure your team stays updated by attending conferences, seminars, and training sessions conducted by industry experts or professional organizations.

Remember, training is an ongoing process, and it’s crucial to regularly assess the effectiveness of your training program and make necessary adjustments to meet the evolving needs of your supplier quality audit team.

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