ISO9001:2015 and Customer Audits

Is your business subject to customer audits? Do you think that being certified to ISO9001:2015 will reduce or eliminate your customers’ desire to audit your company? Do customer audits cover the same things as an ISO9001 audit?

One of the primary reasons why standardized, third-party-audited quality management systems came about was due to the large number of customer audits that started in the 50’s and 60’s in the aerospace industry. So many customer audits were incredibly burdensome on small contractors, so the thinking was that if there was a single standard, and companies could get audited by third-party, independent auditors, then the need for so many customer audits would go away. Certainly it’s helped, but customer audits have not gone away.

Every industry is different. One of my clients is a medium-sized manufacturer that sells small electronic parts to many different customers in a variety of industries. Being certified to the ISO9001:2015 quality standard certainly helps my client. In fact, having the ISO9001 certificate opens doors that would otherwise remain closed. It’s a necessary part of my client’s business. But does having ISO9001:2015 certification reduce or eliminate customer audits? Unfortunately, no.

Various customers have their own agenda. Some may want you to have AS9100, or maybe ISO13485, or maybe TS16949. If you sell to a variety of types of industries, you could get all kinds of different customer audits. Depending on your business, you may find it advantageous to ratchet up your quality system to AS9100 or one of the other quality standards that incorporates ISO9001 as a starting point.

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