A case study at a United States auto parts company, The

CPM/PERT project scheduling approach to QS-9000 registration: A case study at a United States auto parts company, The

Bandyopadhyay, Jayanta K

QS-9000 has been developed and mandated by the big three auto makers: General Motor, Ford, and Chrysler and some of the truck manufacturers as the new quality systems requirement for all their tier one suppliers. Consequently, many of their tier one suppliers have been hurdling through the implementation of QS-9000 as their survival strategy. This paper describes the use of CPM/PERT approach to QS-9000 registration and the experience of QS-9000 registration process at a U.S. auto parts company, as an example. It also discuss the key planning activities and key criteria of success for the QS-9000 registration process.


In recent years, globalization of the market place and tough competition have brought a tremendous thrust for higher quality and productivity [25]. Many companies are moving through early stages of quality and productivity management, promoting quality from narrowly defined quality control function at lower level to integrating quality with the overall systems of business management [24]. At the same time, there is a growing consensus that traditional quality control based on inspection is outdated, and it must be replaced with customer focused, prevention based approaches to quality and productivity management [25]. In the mean time, the U.S. auto industry has also been continuously striving for quality to survive in its own back yard. In this effort, each of the three big automakers, over decades, has developed numerous standards and specifications which had not only confused many of their suppliers but also placed tremendous burden on them for compliance [21]. Commonly, a supplier who supplies all three big automakers must comply with completely different standards, specifications, and requirements as required by three different customers. This created not only confusion but also an archive of documentation and standards, and monuments of wasteful inspection, testing, and quality assurance activities. While the big three automakers are attempting to cut their cost by maintaining just-in-time inventory, their suppliers are wasting their valuable resources to provide just-in-time zero defect quality parts. Consequently, in the past decade, this situation had resulted in a severe strain in supplier-customer relationships in the automotive industry [21]. In perspective of this quality standards and specification confusion, all three big automakers and some truck manufacturers have finally realized the need for harmonization and internationalization of their standards, specifications and requirements which lead to the evolution of the QS-9000 series of automotive quality system requirements[21].

QS-9000 Quality Systems Requirements Architecture

QS-9000 defines the fundamental quality systems requirements of the big three auto makers General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, Truck Manufacturers, and other subscribing companies. They apply to all internal and external suppliers of raw materials, components, subassemblies, and service parts. QS-9000 is the outcome of internationalization of quality standards and harmonization of quality requirements of the auto and truck manufacturers. Internationalization of QS-9000 involves adoption of the ISO 9001:1994, section 4 as the core quality requirements of QS-9000, while harmonization occurred from blending of the existing quality requirements of Chrysler’s Supplier Quality Assurance Manual, Ford’s Q- 101 Quality Systems Standards, General Motor’s NAO Target of Excellence, inputs from the truck manufacturers, and other subscribing companies. ISO 9002 instead of ISO 9001, forms the core requirements for those suppliers who do not design their products but manufacture them from the design specified or supplied by their customers. Companies providing testing and inspection services only such as testing laboratories likewise use ISO 9003 as core requirements instead of ISO 9001 or ISO 9002.

QS-9000 aims to provide a common basis for prevention of defects, reduction of variation, elimination of waste, and continuous improvement of quality. It will also develop a common understanding on topics of mutual interest, a closer working relationship and cooperation among all participants within the automotive and truck industry.

Thus, QS-9000 Quality Systems Requirements consists of three distinct groups of requirements [1]:

(1) Core Requirements: This includes all twenty elements of ISO 9001:1994 Section 4. Each clement is exactly the same as provided in original ISO 9001 document, only typed in italics. However, additional requirements as needed for the automotive and trucking industry are described in regular type following each ISO element. Thus, this section may be considered as an elaboration of each element of ISO 9001:1994 Section 4 as specially fitted to the needs of the automotive and truck industry.

(2) Sector Specific Requirements: This section includes additional requirements beyond the scope of ISO 9001:1994 Section 4 elements but common to the automotive and truck industry. They include Production Part Approval Process, Continuous Improvement, and Manufacturing Capabilities. These programs are already in place within the automotive and truck industry.

(3) Customer-Specific Requirements: This section includes the unique specific requirements for each individual customer such as General Motor, Ford, and Chrysler and truck manufacturers such as Mack Trucks, Navistar International, Freightliner, Volvo GM Heavy Truck, and Peterbilt Trucks. Each supplier must also discuss with its customer about the unique specific requirements applicable to any existing or future contracts.

QS-9000 Implementation Tools and Strategies

Geisler and Justus described a number of training tools for analysis of how people learn, and development of training plans, and evaluation of training methods which may be employed by companies during implementation of QS-9000 quality systems.(8). Wilson provided a set of suggestions for implementation of QS-9000. They include: use of simple documentation, employee involvement, integrating QS-9000 into business activities (24). Jodoin suggested the use of detailed discussions with employees on the logistics of the implementation effort for getting started with QS-9000 (11). Jodoin and Keenan both promoted the use of a gap analysis comparing current system status and desired status during the implementation stages (11,12). Jodoin also indicated that a dedication of a significant amount of resources is essential towards development of quality system documentation, and employees training for QS-9000 implementation (11). Stamatis emphasizes the use of various approaches such as needs assessment, employees involvement, and a total project management approach for implementation of a quality system in an organization (22). Larson recommended a strong management commitment for successful implementation of a quality management system.(13). Rabbitt and Bergh suggested a series of important steps for implementation of a quality management system. These steps include: establishment of a steering council, use of operational management teams, use of various levels of audit teams, and audit result tracking (20). Voehl (et al.) suggested the use of a complete organizational analysis for implementation of a quality management system. in order to determine the viability of such a system prior to any commitment of resources as certain companies may not be well suited for such compliance. Voehl also suggested the use of internal resources, instead of outside consultants at the beginning when the implementation effort is started, as the internal resource personnel may have better knowledge and experience about the existing system (24).Craig recommended the use of a detailed action plan to adequately prepare and organize the effort for implementation of a quality management system. He also emphasized that the selection of a registrar must be an organized and logical effort to provide the best fit for the company (7).

QS-9000 Registration Of Metro City Auto Parts Company

The Metro City Auto Parts, inc. is a tier-one supplier of components to one of the three big Auto makers located in Motor City, Michigan. The company decided to go for QS9000 registration by third party registration three years ago in order to comply with customers’ QS-9000 quality systems requirement and for improving its competitive advantages as its long term business strategy, and the company has successfully accomplished its goal using a project management approach. The company considered QS-9000 registration /implementation as a viable project, and used CPM/PERT for planning, scheduling and controlling of activities as listed in table 1, in their QS-9000 registration/implementation project.

The CPM/PERT diagram of these activities is illustrated in figure 1.

List of Activities Involved in QS-9000 Implementation

The following activities were considered important in a QS-9000 Implementation project.

A. Appointment of a QS-9000 Coordinator and allocation of resources:

Top management, at first made a firm commitment to the QS-9000 implementation project by appointing a QS-9000 Task force, a QS-9000 Coordinator as the leader of the taskforce and by allocating sufficient amount of resources to complete the project successfully within the estimated total project completion time. The QS-9000 project coordinator was well qualified in quality management field, knowledgeable about QS9000 standards, and had the leadership capability for leading the QS-9000 project, and had some experience in QS-9000 implementation. The task force included multidisciplinary team members representing participation from all levels and functions of the organization including the employees unions.

B. Preparation of a feasible plan and a budget for resources:

The coordinator at first prepared a feasible implementation plan and a submitted a budget for allocation of financial resources, and received commitment from the top management.

C. Delegating authorities and responsibilities for carrying out various activities:

Upon approval of the plan and the budget by top management, the QS-9000 coordinator started recruiting of quality personnel, arranged for their training, and delegated authorities and responsibilities for carrying out various activities involving the QS9000 project.

D. Searching for and selecting a QS-9000 registrar:

QS-9000 coordinator started the search for an appropriate QS-9000 registrar by obtaining lists of QS-9000 registrars available from QS-9000 accreditation bodies such as RAB or NCAAB, and AIAG. The selection of the registrar was made by using a factorweight-rating chart in which various factors such as reputation, specialty, availability, convenience, and customers preference, were considered, and weights were assigned to each factor, and then potential candidates for registrar were rated in a scale of 1-10. Thus, the most appropriate registrar for QS-9000 registration for the company was selected using the highest score on the factor-weight-rating chart. The selection of the most appropriate registrar was very critical to the success of the project. Once the registrar was selected, QS-9000 coordinator made contact with the registrar, filled out necessary application forms for registration,

E. Preparation of all three levels of documentation:

QS-9000 coordinator then appointed a team of quality personnel and assigned the team responsibilities to prepare all three levels of quality systems documentation including quality manual, quality procedures, and quality instructions, according to QS-9000 guidelines. Document preparation could have been subcontracted partially or in totality, but they were prepared in-house, so that they reflect the ways by which activities are actually carried out in the organization. Of course, a number of template type documentation preparation softwares were conveniently used for preparation of documentation

F. QS-9000 awareness training:

Since QS-9000 implementation demands total quality management approach, and participation of all employees at all levels and belonging to all functions is critical to successful implementation, QS-9000 coordinator arranged and scheduled for a series of QS-9000 awareness campaign and training throughout the plant for bringing awareness of the importance of QS-9000 registration to the company, and the various requirements of the QS-9000 standards,

G. QS-9000 training of auditors & quality personnel:

Since all quality managers, and internal quality auditors must be well versed with the requirements of the QS-9000 standards in perspective of their implementation and audit. They were sent out to specially designed courses and seminars for training. They could have been trained in-house by subcontracting QS-9000 trainers.

H. Preparing the plant to QS-9000 requirements:

In parallel, with activities D,E,F and G there had been a plantwide preparation and housekeeping to meet the various requirements of QS-9000 standards. This included activities such as organizing, cleaning , and house keeping of each production unit so that all non-conforming materials were properly separated, marked and segregated from all conforming materials throughout the plant and all production units prepared and displayed documentation for quality procedures, QC/SPC charts, and preventive maintenance logs of all production machinery, and quality training logs for all employees. Participation and cooperation of all employees through out the plant had been critical to the success of this preparation process.

I. Conference with lead auditor:

Once the registrar was selected, QS-9000 coordinator contacted the registrar, filled out necessary application forms for registration, had a conference with the lead auditor of the registrar and set out the schedule for quality document submission and deadlines, J. Examination of quality document by lead auditors:

Once all quality documents were prepared and verified, QS-9000 coordinator sent them to the registrar for examination and approval by the lead auditor. Upon receipt, the lead auditor examined all documents and returned them with his approval or rejection. Rejected documents were reworked for corrections and resubmitted for approval by the lead auditor.

K. Internal audit of plant sections:

Once the plantwide preparation and housekeeping for QS-9000 had been completed, QS-9000 coordinator then, scheduled and arranged a series of plantwide internal audits with the help of inhouse audit team of QS-9000 trained internal auditors for determining compliance of each production unit with QS-9000 systems requirements.

L. Corrective actions of plant sections:

Following each internal audit QS-9000 coordinator made sure that corrective action plans were implemented by the failing units, and continued carrying on “internal auditcorrective actions and internal audit” cycle again and again until all units and the whole plant were totally prepared for third party audit by the registrar. At this point QS-9000 coordinator contacted the lead auditor for schedule of the plant audit.

M. Lead auditor & audit team visit and audit the plant:

Once the site visit and audit of the plant was scheduled by the lead auditor, QS-9000 coordinator received a profile of each audit team member, and a detailed schedule of the exact date and time of audit of each plant section from the registrar. QS-9000 coordinator shared this information with the relevant units and their unit leaders for making them aware of the upcoming visit of the third party auditors. QS-9000 coordinator also informed the top management of the upcoming visit of the lead auditor and his audit team and made arrangements for facilitating the opening conference of the audit team with the top management, and other concerned unit leaders. QS-9000 coordinator also provided the lead auditor and each audit team member with one reliable attendance who accompanied the auditors and fully cooperated with them in gathering factual information during the plant audit.

N. Final Audit conference & corrective action plans:

As soon as the plant audit was completed, QS-9000 coordinator arranged for a final audit conference of the lead auditor and the management team members for presentation of the final audit report by the lead auditor. Once the final audit report was presented, QS-9000 coordinator prepared corrective action plans for all reported non-compliances with active participation of all the employees, unit leaders, and the quality personnel of the involved failing units and submitted them to the lead auditor as soon as possible for his review and approval.

O. Implementation of corrective action plans:

Once approved by the lead auditor, QS-9000 coordinator implemented all corrective action plans with active participation of all employees, unit leaders, and quality personnel of the involved failing units, and subsequently verified compliances by a series of internal audits by company’s team of internal auditors.

P. Lead auditor re-audit corrective actions”

Once the corrective action plans were implemented and verified by internal audits, QS9000 auditor made contact with the lead auditor for a schedule of re-visit and audit of all corrective actions. The lead auditor re-visited the plant and re-audited implementation of all corrective actions according to the schedule.

Q. Lead auditor’s recommendation:

Once the audit of the implementation of all corrective actions were completed, and the plant met the compliance with the QS-9000 systems requirements, then the lead auditor submitted his recommendation to the registrar for issuance of the certificate of compliance, and the certificate was issued by the registrar accordingly.

CPM/PERT approach to QS-9000 registration:

Using CPM/PERT approach to QS-9000 registration, a CPM/PERT network diagram as shown in figure 1. reveals that the total project completion time was expected to be 69 weeks and A,B,C,H,K,L,M,N,O,P and Q were critical activities in terms of time constraints and targeted time for registration. Careful consideration and sufficient resources were allocated for completing these activities in time without any delay.


The use of CPM/PERT approach to registration/implementation of QS-9000 in Metro City Auto Parts had been a great success. This approach has provided an effective network of plans, helped identifying and expediting critical activities, recruiting critical quality personnel and estimating valuable resources for each activities just in time. Selection of the registrar was one of the important activities critical to the successful registration. The factor weight-rating chart had been a very effective tool for selection of the registrar. The use of in-house team for preparation of quality documentation had been very economical and successful. Of course, a number of template type documentation preparation softwares were conveniently used for preparation of documentation. The training of internal quality auditors and use of internal audit team during preparation stage had been very effective and had been a valuable learning experience. Although very painstaking, and moderately expensive, the company considers the QS-9000 registration as a worthwhile venture.


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Jayanta K. Bandyopadhyay

Central Michigan University

Copyright International Journal of Management Sep 2002

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