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VDA Management of customer documents 4995

within the supply chain

This VDA recommendation was developed by the working group " VDA Working Group Partner Portal
Collaboration, Project Group Management of Customer Documents" in order to optimize the handling of
customer documents along the entire supply chain.

Among other things, it enables

 more efficient management of customer documents,

 short response times where required,
 improvement of the quality, availability and transparency of information in the supply chain and
as a result,
 ensuring conformity between products and services supplied.

The purpose of this recommendation is to improve the uniform and efficient implementation of the
relevant processes in the automotive industry.

Version 1 from April 2018

VDA Working Group Partner Portal Collaboration

Publisher: Verband der Automobilindustrie Copyright

Behrenstraße 35 Copies and any other form of
Mailbox 8 04 62 reproduction is only allowed
10004 Berlin if the source is quoted.
Tel. 030/897842-221
Fax 030/897842-606
Internet: www.vda.de
VDA Recommendation Version 1 April 2018 Page 2


The VDA recommendations are freely available and are only recommendatory. VDA recommendations
offer cross-company orientation, but do not consider any case-specific parameters. They require the
further interpretation and interpretation of business partners involved in the process.
The VDA Recommendations take into account the standardization level and state of the art prevailing
at the time of publication. Use of the VDA Recommendations does not absolve anyone from
responsibility for his/her own actions, and all users act at their own risk. Liability of VDA and those
involved in the drafting of VDA Recommendations is excluded.
Users are requested to point out deficiencies and outstanding voting subject matters and to
participate in the ongoing standardization process via the VDA.

1. General information

1.1. Scope of application

1.2. Definitions

2. Design of customer documents for the supply chain

2.1. Review and timeliness

2.2. Project relevance
2.3. Technology-specific customer documents
2.4. Supplier-relevant content
2.5. Format and structure for archiving and exchange

3. Document splitting and classification

3.1. Category 1: Customer-specific requirements in addition to IATF 16949

3.2. Category 2: Project-specific requirements
3.3. Category 3: Overarching requirements

4. Principles of handling

4.1. Push/pull principle

4.2. Need-to-Know-Principle
4.3. Flowchart for communication

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1. General information

1.1 Scope of application

This recommendation contains definitions and best practices for the design and document-
based exchange of customer documents relevant throughout the supply chain.


Client Supplier

Image 1: Exemplary display

The scope of application includes technical, project-specific, system-related, qualitative,

logistical and other customer documents and the requirements described therein.

1.2 Definitions: Client:

OEM; Tier 1 to n Supplier:

Tier 1 to n+1

Customer document: A document or file created by a customer to be used when hiring a

supplier. These can be customer standards or other customer documents (e.g. "Volkswagen
Formel Q Konkret, Daimler MBST,...").

Customer standard: Works standard created by the customer. Customer standards are an
expression of customer documents.

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2. Design of customer documents for the supply chain

2.1 Review and up-to-dateness of customer standards

In order to ensure that all standards are up-to-date, it is recommended, based on DIN 820-4,
to also check the internally developed standards for the state of the art after a maximum of 5

This allows you to store the date of the next inspection as an attribute in the master record of
the document. This gives the possibility to define a corresponding code here, e.g. the
fulfilment of actuality.

The parallel use of different versions of a standard always carries a risk for errors and
increases the effort in the document control. Therefore, the following applies:

 If not date is referenced (dynamic reference), the current version at the time of the
contract is applicable.
 In the case of a dated reference (fixed reference), the document that bears the
corresponding date of release or issue shall be applied.
 If a new version of a referenced document is released, IATF 16949 shall be
 If a new version of a customer document exists, the old version remains valid for
the existing contractual relationship until the relevant change request has been
approved in accordance with the change processes agreed between customer
and supplier.
 The entire content of a document must be state of the art (5-year review).
 If public and general requirements safeguard customer requirements, no
customer-specific requirements should be created and reference should be made
to compliance with the general requirements (IATF, VDA,…).

2.2 Project relevance of customer documents

The inspection of non-relevant documents causes the supplier avoidable effort for each initial
inspection and for each change. Therefore, the following applies:

• The goal must be to reference only project-relevant documents.

• Other applicable documents must be selected by the customer with focus on the
• The number of other applicable documents must be reduced to a necessary minimum,
the same applies to cascades of other applicable documents.
• Only documents may be listed which are pointed out in the requirements (see also
DIN 820-2 Chap.

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2.3 Technology-specific customer documents

Customer documents containing multiple responsibilities and different technologies, such as

packaging regulations, logistical requirements, manufacturing technologies must be reviewed
and approved by multiple departments. Knowledge transfer can be better controlled by
technology-specific customer documents.

• Universal customer documents containing several subject areas and different

technologies should be avoided.
• Technology-specific customer documents with a modular structure enable fast
verification, quick feedback and efficient implementation.

2.4 Supplier-relevant content

By reducing the content of a supplier-relevant customer document to only necessary

information, the risk of losing expertise is reduced. This also makes handling easier for the

• Customer documents with sensitive content must be distributed with care.

• The sensitive part of the content must be reduced to what the supplier absolutely
needs to know.
• In certain cases, it makes sense to create a separate version for external use.

2.5 Format and structure for archiving and exchange

• It is recommended to use PDF/A according to ISO 19005, the global standard for
long-term archiving of documents, for document exchange. Document protection
should be based solely on content changes (for example, stamping of the document
status should be possible).
• PDF documents must not be protected with the Digital Rights Management
Mechanism (DRM) (e.g. for using text modules in the context of requirements
• It is recommended to provide documents and meta data in machine-readable formats,
e.g. ReqIF, xml. This can significantly reduce the processing effort for the supplier.
• The structure in the customer documents (template and text format) should be
constant and stable. A document must not be restructured for adjustments. The
numbering and headings of the chapters should be kept constant across all versions
of a document.
• Changes to formulations that are not relevant in terms of content should be avoided.
• Customer documents should bear a uniform copyright notice according to ISO 16016.

2.6 Multiple language support

Simultaneous approval should be sought for customer documents, of which several language
variants are expected to be required. This enables the supplier to carry out a company-wide
audit in a timely manner - also with the involvement of foreign locations. The legally binding
language for the implementation must be indicated in the document.

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3 Document splitting and classification

The objective of the division and classification is to focus on the essential contents and the
resulting requirements and tasks.

Splitting/Classifying of

Category 1 Category 2 Category 3

Customer-specific requirements Project-specific documents,
in addition to IATF 16949 (CSR) specifications, technical
specifications DIN/ISO standards, overarching
Access in accordance with requirements
customer specification Access in accordance with
assignment project assignment Complete access

Image 2: Classification of documents

3.1 Category 1: Customer-specific requirements in addition to IATF 16949

This category includes all customer-specific, project-independent requirements documents,

e.g. regarding different management systems (see IATF 16949).

Adjustments to quality management systems must be provided with appropriate inspection

windows due to their complexity and scope. Here, the recommendation is a period of 3
months after receipt by the supplier, for the substantive examination and the definition of an
implementation concept.

Agreed deviations, e.g. in the form of a side letter, should be stored and accessible in the
supplier and customer systems.

3.2. Category 2: Project-specific requirements

This category includes all project-specific requirements documents with

technical/technological, product-related, qualitative and logistical requirements (e.g.
specifications, technical specifications, material bans...).

Here the recommendation is, to complete a content check within 10 working days after
receipt (similar to IATF 16949) by the supplier.

Agreed deviations, e.g. in the form of a side letter, should be stored and accessible in the

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supplier and customer systems.

3.3. Category 3: Overarching requirements

This category includes all applicable national and international regulations (e.g. DIN standards,
ISO standards, IATF,...).

Adjustments to comprehensive requirements represent the state of the art. Here, the
transitional periods specified by the public lawmakers should be observed.

4 Principles of handling

The objective of this section is to clearly define basic rules to enable uniform and efficient
handling of customer documents. In principle, communication only takes place in a direct
customer-supplier relationship. The customer should name appropriate contact persons for
this purpose.

For product liability reasons, the documents used by all parties along the supply chain must be
archived in accordance with applicable law.

4.1 Push/pull principle

A fundamental distinction is made between two different principles:

 Push principle
In this case, the customer actively notifies his supplier of new or changed documents.

 Pull principle
Here the responsibility for obtaining information about new or changed documents lies with the

The push principle is preferred.

It is recommended to minimize the effort along the supply chain via a subscription function in
the customer's supplier portal (if available). This means that the customer who makes a new
version available in his portal automatically notifies the suppliers via the subscription function.
If a subscription function is offered, it must, as far as possible, be used by the supplier.

The subscription system should also inform about follow-up documents (dynamic reference).
As an alternative to a subscription system, a newsletter can also inform you about changed
and new documents.

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4.2 Need-to-Know-Principle

The provision of customer documents or their content in supplier systems requires a secure
assignment of rights in these systems.
Access rights must clearly regulate which person(s) are authorized to use documents or their
contents within the scope of their function(s). Only as many access rights may be assigned as
is necessary to perform the task (need-to-know principle).

The group of persons affected by the need-to-know principle comprises all those involved in
compliance and implementation along the entire supply chain.

The supplier is responsible for controlling the implementation, passing it on to subcontractors,

the non-disclosure agreement with subcontractors and anchoring the "need-to-know"

Responsibility for the timeliness of data and documents in the suppliers' systems and in
cooperation with sub-suppliers lies with the supplier.

4.3 Flowchart for communication

The various tasks and the associated time specifications should be carried out in the same
way as shown in image 3. The resulting tasks are to be rolled out at organizational level
according to image 4.

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New/changed client document gets

A maximum of 10 working days after
receiving the customer’s documents, the
receipt should be confirmed by the supplier
Send documented to the customer (IATF16949 –
acknowledgement of techn. specifications)

Responsible persons must be chosen, and the following steps

need to be taken
1. Analysis
2. Evaluation
3. Negotiation with client
4. Approval

Complete Actions need to
or partial be implemented
rejection at the supplier?

Write No actions
response Perform action needed
to client
Perform activity
management at the plant/

Status change in the


Image 3: Flow-Chart Document Flow

Status change in the system

Plant 1 Plant 2 Plant 3 Plant 4 Plant 5 Plant 6


Image 4: Distribution of tasks resulting from standards

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According to IATF 16949 it is recommended that the documentation of the QM system should
contain a document showing where in the QM system of the organization customer-specific
requirements are addressed. Figure 5 shows an example of a corresponding recommendation.


Client specific requirements OEM PKW

OEM Set of Requirement


Complaints management
Special characteristics
Process development

Supplier procurement
Product development

Processing capability
Equipment capability

Traceability marking
requalification test

Problem solving
Test planning
QM System





VDA AG CSR During the entire start-up phase, no relocation may take
2017 place. Relocation must be announced 6 months in advance
and requires approval.

VDA AG CSR Scheduling for sampling is carried out by the customer.

2017 Samples are also to be delivered without a separate order.

VDA AG CSR Characteristics for which capability examinations must be

2017 carried out are to be agreed upon with the customer. Until
the proof of the ability they are to be checked one hundred

VDA AG CSR Initial sample template and document template need to fulfil
2017 all requirements, otherwise deviation permission from the
development is required, before termination of re-sampling.

VDA AG CSR Short process capability Cmk ≥ 1.67. Long process

2017 capability Cpk ≥ 1.33.

VDA AG CSR Submission level extended by annex 24 "Proof of securing

2017 traceability and data archiving of DS/DZ characteristics" at
submission level 3.

VDA AG CSR Referred to parts that are not sampled yet as "other
2017 samples" with red sticker

VDA AG CSR Labelling of Q-status on white stickers


VDA AG CSR Part service life is to be submitted.


VDA AG CSR 15 years of archiving are required for PPF documents,

2017 archiving time frame in accordance with VDA 1.

VDA AG CSR If the supplier has joint responsibility for product

2017 development, the obligation to assess safety relevance and
certification relevance applies, as well as the internal use of
Daimler's marking of special characteristics

VDA AG CSR FMEA must comply with VDA4


Image 5: Example of a checklist for verifying the implementation of customer

requirements in the organization

Copyright VDA