Contracting Training Requirements

Using a customer contract to communicate responsibilities, expectations and training objectives

by Robert D. Zaciewski

Several years ago GM mandated that its internal suppliers achieve QS-9000 compliance and that its assembly plants seek ISO 9002 registration. The company's implementation and support team was responsible for training the internal quality auditors who would maintain these efforts. But with a myriad of different sites to service, the team needed to devise a method of ensuring that requirements and responsibilities (for both the customer and the team) were understood and achieved.

The team wanted to create a course based on ANSI/ISO/ASQ Q10011 Guidelines for Auditing Quality Systems,1 that would be followed by a practice audit using the procedures of each customer's business. In order to succeed, however, it had to control several variables to minimize inconsistencies in the instructional process. For this reason, the team needed to obtain information about each customer's quality system and target population.

The team devised a customer contract to help plan each training event. The two-page contract helped both the team and the customer understand and meet their responsibilities, provided a stable and capable instructional process, and assisted customers in establishing an effective audit system.

The first page of the contract (see sidebar "Sample ISO 9000 Customer Contract--Page 1") offered basic course information and listed documentation the customer needed to supply the team for classroom activities and the practice audit.

The second page listed specific materials the team expected the customer to provide (copies of the ISO standard for each participant, internal noncomformity reports, the organization's procedures, overhead projectors, flip charts and the like). This page also described the course's objectives, thoroughly communicating the focus of the course to the customer.

This contract was e-mailed to the customer who completed it and followed up on any necessary actions. While the contract usually needed to be sent back and forth several times between the team and the customer, it modeled the behavior that the team wanted potential auditors to emulate--attention to detail.


ANSI/ISO/ASQ Q10011 Guidelines for Auditing Quality Systems (Milwaukee: ASQ Quality Press, 2000).

ROBERT D. ZACIEWSKI is a total quality management resource for the UAW-GM Quality Network Implementation Support Team in Warren, MI. He earned a bachelor's degree in management and organizational development from Spring Arbor College in MI. Zaciewski is an RAB certified quality management systems provisional auditor. He is an ASQ Senior Member and an ASQ certified quality engineer, Quality Inspector, quality auditor and quality technician.

If you would like to comment on this article, please post your remarks on the Quality Progress Discussion Board, or e-mail them to editor@asq.org.

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