Q&A - TL 9000 Requirements

The Contact Us function at the top of every page on the tl9000.org and questforum.org websites is the preferred means for asking questions and receiving answers from the subject matter experts of the QuEST Forum. Over the last few years many questions have been answered through this means. The number of each question is the ticket number in the Contact Us tracking system.

These questions generally relate to the interpretation of the TL 9000 Requirements.

Question 9499 — Applicability of Requirements 7.1.V.1 Service Delivery Plan in Provisioning and Maintenance Service, Product Categories 7.1.2 and 7.3 and the related Project Plan requirements of 7.3.1.C.1. Can 7.3.1.C.1 be excluded, as it doesn't seem applicable to our nature of service? If it must be applied, kindly please elaborate more on the fulfillment of the requirement and the applicability of the project plan requirements of 7.3.1.C.1

Answer — Even through the service product being provided is one that is being conducted on a continuing basis rather than a discrete project basis, a project plan is required. It can be an overall open-ended plan that covers the applicable items in 7.3.1.C.1. It could therefore be established and easily maintained, changing only when there is a change in the organizational structure, etc. It should contain general process information on how the provisioning (or maintenance) of new types of equipment added to the network will be handled but would not need to have specific information on each equipment type being provisioned (or maintained).

Question 9548 — Regarding 6.2.2.HV.1 Qualification of Personnel. Based on the examples given in the note it appears that this applies to the processes addressed by clause 7.5.2. If we take 7.5.2 as an exclusion should we take 6.2.2.HV.1 as an exclusion as well as they appear to work in tandem?

Answer — One relates to qualification of people and the other to qualification of processes so we don't agree that they are co-dependent.

Question 10070 — We are TL 9000 certified in product category 7.1.1 V. Since we are not responsible for any design and/or development we have exempted ourselves from 7.3 design and development of the TL 9000 Requirements Handbook. This means that we are required to comply with 7.1.V.1 of the requirements handbook. In 7.1.V.1 it states that organizations SHALL comply with requirements of 7.3.1.C.1. During our recent visit from our 3rd party certification body the question arose regarding if the SHALL in 7.1.V.1 would make the SHOULD in 7.3.1.C.1 (The project plan SHOULD include) a SHALL. The way I would interpret this is that we SHALL comply with 7.3.1.C.1, which means our project plan SHOULD include a) through p). My registrar interprets this to mean that the SHALL in 7.1.V.1 changes the SHOULDs into SHALLs in 7.3.1.C.1. Can I get some clarification in this matter?

Answer — The intent of 7.1.V.1 is to ensure that services organizations that exclude section 7.3 still apply 7.3.1.C.1 to their service project plans.

However, it does not change the wording or intent of 7.3.1.C.1 in any way. The "should" in 7.3.1.C.1 is not changed by 7.1.V.1. It is still to be treated as a "should", meaning the organization's project plans should include each of the items a) through p) or there should be documentation explaining why a particular item is not included.

Question 10197 — TL 9000 requirements handbook, section 4.2.3, item c, states that controls are needed "to ensure that changes and the current revision status of documents are identified." We utilize test and inspection checklists in our manufacturing process to ensure compliance with our established specs. When the checklist is updated we change the document revision located on the form and the applicable database. Is that sufficient for item "c" above, or must we have the entire revision history on the form to list actual changes?

Answer — It is not necessary to have a revision history (in addition to the version number) on the actual form. Maintaining a record of changes and implementation dates are required in case you need to determine which version of the test or inspections checklist was used on a particular item.

Question 10551 — With respect to TL 9000 Requirements Handbook, Release 5, 7.4.1.C.2 Supplier Performance Management what makes a supplier a "key" supplier, and for large suppliers, what actions are expected from a manufacturer if the supplier will not use TL 9000?

Answer — A 'key' supplier is one of your suppliers that you depend on to keep you in business. There are several reasons to classify a supplier as key and the organization must be able to assess the business risk of the supplier accordingly to determine key supplier status.

Our preference is to have suppliers aligned towards conformity to TL 9000, however, it is the organization’s responsibility to ensure that all the TL 9000 requirements are met for the organization’s products and services which may include supplier’s products. There is no mandate to require your suppliers to be certified to TL 9000.

REL 6 Answer — Please refer to 8.4.1.C.2 External Provider Performance Management

Question 11040 — In the requirement origin overview there are mentioned GR1202 and GR 1252. What does this "document" stand for and who is the originator of these "documents"?

Answer — The GR documents originated with Bell Labs, which became Bellcore, which is now named Telcordia. This group wrote standards for the telecom industry before it was deregulated. The QuEST Forum was created to write its own standard for telecom, namely TL 9000, and based TL 9000 on portions of previous works.

Question 11222 — I have a couple questions regarding the new version 5.0 of the TL 9000 Requirements handbook: 1) Section 7.3.1.C.1 Project Plan (K) states that the project plan should include "design for 'x' plans as appropriate to the product life cycle" ...What is meant by this requirement and what is it you are looking for?

2) In section 7.3.1.C.3 Test Planning (L) states that test plans should include a "predefined exit criteria" What is meant by this requirement? Are you looking for a pre-defined exit criteria for stopping the project? Or does this mean something else?

Answer — 7.3.1.C.1 Project Plan k) requires simply what is stated. Your project plan should include consideration of design for manufacturability, reliability, serviceability, etc. as appropriate to your product and its life cycle.

Item l) predefined exit criteria listed in 7.3.1.C.3 Test Planning means the test plan should include a specification of how the organization will know when the test has been completed. If it is the type of test that must be “passed” before it can be considered to be complete, then the criteria for determining “passing” should be in the test plan.

REL 6 Answer — Please refer to 8.4.1.C.2 External Provider Performance Management

Question 11126 — Clarification requested on below mentioned point. A company, which is claiming TL 9000 registration under certificate specialty Category “S” - Software development and service resolution can go for exclusion of 6.2.2.HV.1 – qualification of personnel in following situation? SITUATION: Company has a Laboratory facility, which is built by its customer at company location and used to perform various lab testing and fault resolution. It is a laboratory testing process and they need to assemble various cabling which requires soldering to be completed in an antistatic environment.

Answer — 6.2.2.HV.1 does not apply to a Software (S) only registration. As noted in Section 3.2 of the TL 9000 Quality Management System Requirements Handbook, only those sections of the Handbook that correspond to the type of registration apply to that registration. An HV requirement such as 6.2.2.HV.1 applies to Hardware (H) and Service (V) registration types. There is no issue of claiming an exclusion: the requirement does not apply by rule. If this excludes some important processes from the TL 9000 certification process, then the organization should strongly consider adding Hardware (H) and/or Service (V) to its scope of registration.

Question 11334 — Our company supplies products to various telecommunication companies that are specified by the customer. They dictate to us the product and supplier that we MUST order from. This applies to all the products supplied to our customers. The only supplier that we can choose are service companies such as transportation-related carriers. Based on this criteria, can we exclude 7.4.1.C.2 Supplier Performance Management from TL 9000 requirement Release 5?

Answer — No. The company is required to manage the performance of the transportation-related carriers or other suppliers that the company uses to run its business.

REL 6 Answer — Please refer to 8.4.1.C.2 External Provider Performance Management

Question 11358 — We are a telecom installation company and have a question on element 8.2.4.HV.1 of TL 9000 Quality Management System Requirements Handbook. The requirement states: Each inspection or testing activity throughout the product life cycle shall have detailed documentation. Details should include, but are not limited to the various bulleted items listed.

The way I read this element we are required to have "detailed documentation" on all "Inspection and Test Documentation", but since it states "Details SHOULD include" we are not required to have ALL the individual items listed (a-h) on ALL Inspection and Test documents. I understand that MOST Inspection and Test records will contain MOST of the individual items listed, but I am not sure the value in having ALL items included on ALL records and during our last 3rd party audit I was informed ALL "Inspection and Test Documentation" MUST include a "f) defect classification scheme". Our organization did not have a defect classification scheme on our Purchase Order.

Answer — You are correct: the list of details in 8.2.4.HV.1 are items that may or may not need to be on your inspection and test documentation. If an item is not included, then there needs to be documentation describing why it is not. However, given the standard installation acceptance testing performed by most North American service providers, it would be unusual for there not to be an applicable defect classification scheme for the documentation associated with your inspection and test documentation. One last point, the requirement applies to inspection and test documentation. It would certainly not apply in any way to a Purchase Order: that is not an inspection or test activity.

Question 11624 — Since 7.5.5.C.1 (ESD Protection) falls under the 7.5 "Production and Service provision" heading does it also apply to NON-production, development labs too or only to a production and/or service environment where the product will be going to a customer. We have had different CBs interpret this both ways.

Answer — 7.5.5.C.1 applies to any facility where equipment destined for or owned by the customer is built, tested, or handled in any way. A development or other non-production related laboratory would be excluded, if and only if no customer owned or customer destined equipment was ever tested in the laboratory. This means that if a single production or customer board is taken to the lab, the requirement applies. This also means that if any of the product used in the lab as test systems is later sold, even as “used, as is” equipment when it is retired from the lab, the requirement applies. As a result, very few, if any, development labs can exclude this requirement.

Question 11639 — We write to request for the advice regarding the correct applicability of following Requirements: · 7.1.V.1 Service Delivery Plan · 7.3.1.C.1 Project Plan · 7.3.1.C.4 Risk Management Plan · 7.1.C.1 Life Cycle Model · 7.1.C.3 End of Life Planning

We are accredited to Specialty: Services (V) with applicable Product Category 7.1.2 - Provisioning and 7.3 - Maintenance Services. In our Quality Manual, we have stated the exclusion of the Requirement 7.3 Design and Development, as the scope function of our quality management system does not cover “Design and Development”. Since TL 9000 Requirement R.4, we already have doubt about the applicability of the 7.1.V.1 Service Delivery Plan in our organization. We do not design and develop the service we provide, but are only responsible for the commissioning and subsequent restoration of the service. Thus, we are puzzled in the demonstration of this requirement. Furthermore, to apply this requirement - Service Delivery Plan we also have to make sure to comply with the requirements of the Adder 7.3.1.C.1 - Project Plan as well, though the sub-bulleted listed requirements seem quite irrelevant to the nature of our organization. In the new R.5, it was noted that the Requirement 7.1.V.1 Service Delivery Plan was modified to include the compliance of the requirements of a new adder -7.3.1.C.4 Risk Management Plan, in addition to the requirements of 7.3.1.C.1 Project Plan. Could you elaborate more on the intent of the mentioned Adders? Any advice could be offered regarding the application of these Adders in a service organization, which registered in PC 7.1.2 - Provisioning and 7.3 - Maintenance Service? It is appreciated if example case could be provided. Moreover, are the Adders 7.1.C.1 - Life Cycle Model and 7.1.C.3 - End of Life Planning related to the above mentioned Adders?

Answer — It is recognized that many of the TL 9000 common requirements will be applied a bit differently for service products as opposed to hardware/software products. It is also recognized that many of the design and development requirements will not apply at all to a service product and that many service organizations will legitimately exclude 7.3 from their certification. It is precisely because of this that 7.1.V.1 requires that service organizations still comply with the Project Plan and Risk Management Plan requirements. These two requirements are important for all organizations, no matter what type of product they provide.

The service products you provide, network provisioning and maintenance, are primarily continuous services with a very simple life cycle model overall. You will be providing those services as long as your company stays in business. However, at a day-to-day operational level, as the networks you provision evolve, the specific tools and methods you use to perform that provisioning will change. The same is true for the maintenance activities where the equipment being maintained will change as the network changes. Even if all of the provisioning and/or maintenance methods are developed externally, you will still need to have plans on how you will implement them with training of personnel being an obvious concern. There may also be risks associated with the changes associated with the network evolution. There may also be risks associated with changes to the provision process, maintenance logistics, maintenance methods, personnel, and organizational structure. So while Project and Risk Management plans are not needed for your service products on a day-to-day basis, they would be needed when you implement changes to the processes you use to provide the products. In fact, we are quite sure you already create an implementation plan whenever you do have a major process change or introduce a new type/model of equipment into your network. Those plans could easily include the consideration of the items noted in 7.3.1.C.1 and 7.3.1.C.4.

REL 6 Answer — Please refer to • 8.3.2.C.1 Project Plan • 8.3.2.C.2 Risk Management Planning • 8.1.C.1 Life Cycle Model • 8.1.C.3 End of Life Planning

Question 12258 — Section 7.4.1.C.2 c) states that suppliers are periodically re-evaluated..... does this mean that an actual time period must be stated by the organization or would statements such as "suppliers will be periodically re-assessed to meet the needs of the business" and/or "suppliers will be periodically re-assessed if Supplier Management activities indicate unacceptable performance or lead to concerns with the supplier"?

Answer — Periodically means on a repeating cycle. As stated in Note 2, “It is recognized that it is not possible for an organization to provide the same level of interaction with all suppliers.” So while it is perfectly acceptable to have some suppliers that are re-assessed only when there is a performance issue, there will be some type or set of suppliers, due to their importance to the organization’s being able to meet quality goals or improvement plans, must be more closely monitored. In other words, the expectation would be that there is sub-set of suppliers on at least an annual or more frequent review cycle.

Question 12855 — 8.2.4.HV.2: Can an organization apply this adder only to the final assembly level inspection and test activities? A consultant advised us that we only need to keep track of which equipment used during system test, not at the board level or component level. For example, at Incoming inspection, our inspector is using the multimeter to measure the component (cap, resistor), Do we have to know which multimeter is used to measure the samples from this batch? At the SMT FAI station, QC is using multimeter to verify the parts loaded on the fab again, should we trace this meter also?

Answer — 8.2.4.HV.2 applies to any inspection or test record, no matter where the inspection or test occurs. According to e) calibrated equipment used is part of the record information to be tracked.

Question 12881 — If I am TL 9000 certified in product category 7.1.1 (installation) and according to the counting rules for Number of Problem Reports (NPR), I am not to be reporting problems according to severity levels, I would like to know how I am to address 7.2.3.C.1 and 7.2.3.C.2. Our 3rd party CB is saying that we are required to give problem reports a severity level, or how would we know when a problem report was a critical one and when to notify the customer as required by 7.2.3.C.1. As it stands now, when a customer reports a problem as a critical problem I address that reported problem as the customer requests. So I guess my question is a two-part question. Am I required to give Problem Reports severity levels and if so how many levels are required?

Answer — 7.2.3.C.1 requires you to notify customers who might be impacted by a Critical Problem Report. It does not say that you have to have a critical problem report.

7.2.3.C.2 starts with 'Except for those products specifically excluded from severity level reporting, ...'. As shown in the Measurements Handbook Section 5.1, and in particular Tables 5.1-4 and Table 5.1-5 problems in product categories 7 and 8 are not categorized as critical, major, or minor but are simply classified as a 'problem report'. There is no severity level in product categories 7 and 8.

Your category is 7.1.1 so you just report problems. There is no severity classification in 7.1.1.

Question 12959 — I am a TL 9000 auditor, and we have a client who applied for a TL 9000 certification in product category 7.2.2, software development service. Their consultant said they need only meet 'V' clauses, but I think because they conduct the software development service that they must also meet the 'S' clauses. Please tell me which is correct according to the requirements of TL 9000.

Answer — There are no requirements concerning the selection of specialty other than selecting “the certification specialty(ies) relevant to the registered organization.” There are no explicit ties between product category and specialty defined in the TL 9000 Requirements. There are, of course, implicit ties such as an organization in a product category in Family 7 services would be expected to select V. The selection of SV versus only V for an organization offering software development services would depend on their TL 9000 scope statement. If that does not provide clear guidance, then the expectations of the organization’s customers should be used in making the determination. Of the 23 organizations currently TL 9000 Certified in category 7.2.2, 14 are SV and 9 are V.

Question 12967 — I am an independent consultant working with a client who is considering pursuing TL 9000 certification. We would like to know if developing SOP's in English (vs. Spanish which is the local language) would help the client company in the certification process later on?

Answer — An organization should develop and use SOP in the language that communicates best the intents of the procedures and processes to the people covered by the registration. It is certainly acceptable to develop these processes in Spanish for use by the registrant.

Question 12974 — I would like to inquire how a single location that tests and refurbishes equipment can create a disaster recovery plan for the operational functions of test and refurb as it is not cost effective to have a duplicate site?

Answer — Regarding 7.1.C.2 Disaster Recover: This clause does not require you to build a duplicate facility nor to continue operations as if nothing happened. What it requires is that you have a plan that will allow you to support your existing customers with what they expect from you relative to products and services that you have delivered to them. The plan includes how you will handle the crisis, provide for business continuity, and information technology relative to your ability to recreate and service the product throughout its life cycle. The important issue here is the product lifecycle relative to your obligations to your customer. There comes a point where your customer no longer expects you to deliver anything relative to a product you provided earlier. Your plan needs cover only that period where your customer has expectations of you to support the product previously sold. This will include meeting warranty obligations so the plan should include how to duplicate your previous test capability or an arrangement for someone else to do it for you. The plan must include how you will service existing customers relative to their expectations during and after the disaster. If there is an inherent expectation by your existing customers that you will continue to provide them with tested and refurbished equipment then the plan should comprehend how you will continue operations for new deliveries of product. One option would be to maintain an offsite copy of all test procedures and test equipment requirements. This along with a list of current contacts for real estate (lease a new or temporary facility), test equipment supply, and system supply would allow them to be up and at least partially operational again within a few days and full operational within a few weeks. Both of those time periods would be very acceptable in the pre-owned supply market. An additional option would be to have a formal legal agreement with one or more other pre-owned suppliers for each of you to be the other's "back-up" facility.

Question - AB/CB Team Supplied — I am a contract manufacturer and do not design the product and am not responsible for test development. We simply use the test provided to us by the customer. Do I have to comply with 8.2.4.H.1 Periodic Retesting?

Answer — The CM cannot exclude 8.2.4.H.1, 8.2.4.H.2, and 8.2.4.H.3 if “H” is in its scope. While it is recognized that the variety and depth of retest along with applicable criteria as noted in 8.2.4.H.3 are limited in the case of contract manufacturing, it is still required that a documented procedure be established and maintained because of those criteria that do apply such as ECOs, manufacturing variations, changes in material, and test processes.

Question - AB/CB Team Supplied — If a CM complies with 7.5.1.HV.1 and 7.5.1.V.2, why does it have to comply with 8.2.4.H.1 when the CM does not design the product and is not responsible for test development (the customer provides us the test)?

Answer — The CM cannot exclude 8.2.4.H.1 if “H” is in its scope. While it is recognized that the variety and depth of retest along with applicable criteria as noted in 8.2.4.H.3 are limited in the case of contract manufacturing, it is still required that a documented procedure be established and maintained because of those criteria that do apply such as ECOs, manufacturing variations, changes in material, and test processes.