What is an IATF Audit Checklist, and How to Make One?

Navigate IATF audit checklists seamlessly! Here's how to make a robust checklist for automotive compliance and operational efficiency.

Last Updated on January 30, 2024 by Ossian Muscad

If you’re responsible for quality management within your organization, you know how important it is to comply with the IATF 16949:2016 standard. This standard is required for any organization that wants to supply automotive products to the international market. Therefore, proactively ensuring compliance with this standard is essential to your organization’s success. 

One way to ensure compliance with the IATF 16949:2016 standard is by conducting IATF audits using IATF audit checklists. But what exactly is IATF auditing, and how do you create an IATF audit checklist? This article will define IATF and how to create an IATF audit checklist.


What is an IATF Audit?

An IATF audit is a thorough, systematic examination designed to evaluate an organization’s adherence to the requirements set forth by the IATF 16949:2016 standards for the automotive sector. These audits serve to scrutinize not only the compliance but also the effectiveness of the quality management system in place. By identifying any gaps or areas for improvement within the processes, IATF audits help organizations enhance their production quality and operational efficiency, ultimately leading to better customer satisfaction and a stronger competitive edge in the global automotive market.


What is the IATF 16949:2016 Standard?

The IATF 16949:2016 standard was developed by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF), a group of automotive manufacturers and trade associations from across the globe. The goal of the IATF is to reach a consensus on quality standards, and process benchmarks within the automotive supply chain.

This standard integrates the principles of ISO 9001 with additional industry-specific requirements for automotive quality management systems. To meet these rigorous standards, organizations within the automotive supply chain are expected to demonstrate continuous improvement, defect prevention, and reduction of variation and waste in the supply chain.

IATF audits, employing a comprehensive IATF audit checklist, are crucial in verifying the implementation and effectiveness of these quality management systems. They serve as a basis for evaluating an organization’s overall compliance with the standard.


Challenges of Implementing IATF Standards

Implementing IATF 16949:2016 standards presents several challenges to organizations in the automotive supply chain. These hurdles can range from administrative tasks like record storage to procedural aspects such as timely action and ensuring continuous competency and accountability within the team. Let’s delve into these obstacles and how they can impact an organization’s ability to adhere to the necessary standards.

Storing Mandatory Records

Proper storage and management of mandatory records is a fundamental requirement of IATF audits, posing a considerable challenge for many organizations. These records serve as evidence of compliance and are essential during an IATF audit to showcase adherence to processes and standards. Companies need to implement robust document control systems that allow for secure storage and easy retrieval and prevent records from being compromised or lost.

Providing Timely Action

Another significant challenge is providing timely action in response to nonconformities or potential areas for improvement identified during IATF audits. The goal is to address these issues promptly to prevent them from affecting product quality or delaying production. An active response system, often integral to the IATF audit checklist, ensures that proactive measures are taken before minor issues escalate into major non conformances.

Maintaining Competency and Accountability

IATF 16949:2016 standards demand that all personnel involved in the quality management system maintain adequate competency and accountability. This challenge involves initial training, continuous professional development, and regular performance evaluations. Having detailed criteria for roles and responsibilities within the IATF audit checklist can help maintain the high level of expertise required to meet the standards consistently.


How to Conduct an IATF Audit

Conducting an IATF Audit requires a structured approach to evaluate the effectiveness of the quality management system against the IATF 16949:2016 standards. This involves meticulous preparation, execution, and follow-up procedures to ensure that every aspect of compliance is assessed. Below, we will outline the critical steps to conduct an efficient and thorough IATF audit.

Step 1: Preparing the IATF Audit Checklist

To begin with, auditors need to prepare an IATF audit checklist that reflects all the criteria and requirements of the IATF 16949:2016 standard. This checklist serves as a guiding framework for the audit process and ensures nothing is overlooked. Preparation also involves reviewing previous audit reports and noncompliance issues and scheduling all necessary personnel and resources.

Step 2: Conducting the Audit

The execution of the audit involves a comprehensive review of processes, procedures, and records according to the IATF audit checklist. Auditors will interview staff, observe operations, and assess documentation to verify compliance. It’s crucial to identify any discrepancies, potential risks, and areas for improvement during this step.

Step 3: Reporting and Follow-up

After the audit is complete, findings should be documented in a detailed report. This report must include any noncompliance, observations, and opportunities for improvement. A follow-up plan should be established to address the findings, making certain that corrective actions are implemented and monitored for effectiveness.


What is an IATF Audit Checklist?

An IATF audit checklist is a comprehensive tool used to guide auditors through the process of evaluating an organization’s compliance with the IATF 16949:2016 standards. It helps to ensure that no standard element is overlooked and that each requirement is thoroughly assessed. The checklist typically includes criteria and questions covering various aspects of the quality management system, from document control and operational procedures to employee competency and product quality.

The IATF audit checklist serves multiple purposes. It acts as a roadmap for auditors to follow, guarantees consistency between different audits, and provides a record of the audit findings. In creating an effective IATF audit checklist, organizations must tailor the document to encompass all the specifics of their operations while still aligning with the universal standards set by the IATF. The ultimate goal of the checklist is to streamline the audit process, making it more efficient and effective at identifying areas of non-compliance and opportunities for improvement.


What’s Included in an IATF Audit Checklist?

To ensure a successful IATF audit, a detailed and tailored audit checklist is a must-have tool for all organizations within the automotive supply chain. The checklist is a systematic framework covering every required aspect of the IATF 16949:2016 standard. Here, we’ll break down the key components of an IATF audit checklist and the specific details it should encompass to foster thorough and effective audits.

  1. Organizational Context and Leadership: Evaluation of the organization’s structure, strategic direction, and leadership’s role in supporting the quality management system (QMS).
  2. Planning and Risk Management: Assessment of risk management processes, objectives for the QMS, and how the organization plans to address risks and opportunities.
  3. Support and Resources: Checks on the availability and management of resources, including human resources, infrastructure, work environment, and organizational knowledge.
  4. Operations: Inspection of production and service provision processes, including planning, product requirements, design and development, and control of external providers.
  5. Performance Evaluation: Review of monitoring and measurement activities, internal audits, management review, and assessment of customer satisfaction.
  6. Improvement: Verification of the presence and effectiveness of continual improvement processes in addressing nonconformities and taking corrective actions.
  7. Documentation: Confirmation that all necessary documentation is in place, up-to-date, and controlled according to the standard’s requirements.
  8. Product Realization: Examination of the entire product realization process, from planning to delivery, to ensure compliance with specified product requirements.
  9. Employee Competence and Awareness: Assessment of employee training, awareness, and competence in relation to their role within the QMS.
  10. Calibration and Measurement Accuracy: Checks on measurement and monitoring equipment calibration, including records and validity of results.
  11. Customer-specific Requirements: Confirmation that customer-specific requirements are identified, understood, and met in all relevant processes.


 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: How often should an IATF audit be conducted?

The frequency of IATF audits typically depends on several factors, including the complexity of processes, the maturity of the quality management system, and historical audit performance. However, it is commonly recommended to conduct internal IATF audits at least annually to ensure ongoing compliance and to address any potential issues promptly.

Q2: Who is qualified to conduct an IATF audit?

IATF audits should be conducted by trained and proficient auditors in the IATF 16949:2016 standard and the principles of quality management auditing. Ideally, these individuals hold an auditor certification from an accredited body and have experience in the automotive industry.

Q3: Can an organization fail an IATF audit, and what happens if it does?

Yes, an organization can fail an IATF audit if significant noncompliance with the IATF 16949:2016 standard exists. In such cases, the organization must address the noncompliance with corrective actions within a designated timeframe to avoid losing certification.

Q4: How are the audit findings prioritized in the report?

Audit findings are typically categorized into major and minor non-conformities, observations, and opportunities for improvement. Major non-conformities must be addressed as a priority due to their potential impact on product quality or the effectiveness of the quality management system.

Q5: Is using a standard IATF audit checklist mandatory, or can it be customized?

While there are standard IATF audit checklists available, it is recommended to customize them to align with an organization’s specific processes, products, and quality objectives. Customization ensures a more relevant and effective audit, focusing on areas critical to the individual organization.

Q6: What should be done after the IATF audit to ensure continual improvement?

After an IATF audit, the organization should review the audit report to develop an action plan targeting the identified non-conformities and implementing corrective actions. It is essential to monitor the effectiveness of these actions and make necessary adjustments to foster continual improvement in compliance with the IATF 16949:2016 standard.


Create Your IATF Audit Checklist with DATAMYTE

DATAMYTE is a quality management platform with low-code capabilities. Our Digital Clipboard, in particular, is a low-code workflow automation software that features a workflow, checklist, and smart form builder. This tool lets you easily create your own IATF audit checklist and customize it to fit your organization’s unique needs.

DATAMYTE also lets you conduct layered process audits, a high-frequency evaluation of critical process steps. This audit focuses on areas with the highest failure risk or noncompliance. Conducting LPA with DATAMYTE lets you effectively identify and correct potential defects before they become major quality issues.

With DATAMYTE, you have an all-in-one solution for conducting thorough and effective IATF audits, managing corrective actions, and fostering continual improvement in your organization’s quality management system. Book a demo now to learn more about how DATAMYTE can streamline your audit processes and help you achieve IATF compliance.



IATF audits are a cornerstone in maintaining and improving quality management systems within the automotive industry. Employing an effective IATF audit checklist during these audits is more than a formality—it is a strategic tool that ensures thorough evaluation and continuous enhancement of quality processes. The goal is to identify non-conformities and encourage organizations to embrace a culture of excellence and preventive thinking.

By customizing checklists and focusing on a systematic approach to quality management, organizations can stay ahead of challenges, meet customer-specific requirements, and uphold the high standards that the IATF 16949:2016 sets forth. Regular and meticulous IATF audits result in better products, more efficient processes, and higher customer satisfaction, solidifying a firm’s reputation for quality in the competitive automotive marketplace.



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