Q&A - TL 9000 Requirements

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

Question 10197 — TL 9000 Requirements Handbook, section, item c, states that controls are needed "control of changes (e.g., version control)". 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, 8.4.1.C.2 External Provider Performance Management, what makes an external provider an "key" external provider, and for large external providers, what actions are expected from a manufacturer if the external provider will not use TL 9000?

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

Our preference is to have external providers 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 external providers products. There is no mandate to require your external providers to be certified to TL 9000.

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 TIA 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 TL 9000 Requirements handbook: 1) Section 8.3.2.C.1 Project Planning states that the project plan should include "design for 'X(DFx)' 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 8.3.2.C.4 Test Planning states that test plans should include a "predefined exit criteria" What is meant by this requirement? Are you looking for a pre-defined exit criterion for stopping the project? Or does this mean something else?

Answer — 8.3.2.C.1 Project Planning 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 2) predefined exit criteria listed in 8.3.2.C.4 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.

Question 11126 — Clarification requested on below mentioned point. A company, which is claiming TL 9000 certification under specialty option “S” - Software development and service resolution can go for exclusion of 7.2.HV.1 Operator Qualification and Requalification 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 — 7.2.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 7.2.HV.1 applies to Hardware (H) and Service (V) registration types. Since an HV requirement is not applicable to a Software (S) only registration, no exclusion is necessary. 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 external provider that we MUST order from. This applies to all the products supplied to our customers. The only external provider that we can choose are service companies such as transportation-related carriers. Based on this criterion, can we exclude 8.4.1.C.2 External Provider Performance Management?

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

Question 11358 — We are a telecom installation company and have a question on element 8.6.HV.1 of TL 9000 Quality Management System Requirements Handbook. The requirement states: Each inspection or testing activity ... 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 8.6.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 8.5.4.C.1 Protection from Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Damage falls under the 8.5 "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 — 8.5.4.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: · 8.3.2.C.1 Project Planning, 8.3.2.C.2 Project Risk Management, 8.1.C.1 Life Cycle Model, and 8.1.C.3 End of Life Planning

We are certified to Specialty: Services (V) with applicable category 7.1.2 - Provisioning and 7.3.1 - Network Maintenance. In our Quality Manual, we have stated the exclusion of the Requirement 8.3 Design and development of products and services, as the scope function of our quality management system does not cover “Design and Development”. 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. Any advice could be offered regarding the application of these Adders in a service organization, which registered in categories 7.1.2 - Provisioning and 7.3.1 - Network Maintenance? It is appreciated if example case could be provided. Moreover, are the Adders 8.1.C.1 - Life Cycle Model and 8.1.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 services 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 and that many service organizations will legitimately exclude 8.3 from their certification.

The services 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 services , a life cycle plan and end of life planning are needed.

Question 12855 — 8.6.HV.2 Documentation Retained from Inspection and Test Activities: 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 — 8.6.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 category (Physical 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 8.2.1.C.1 Problem Severity Classification. 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 8.2.1.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 — 8.2.1.C.1 explicitly states "Except for those products and services specifically excluded from severity level reporting".Since the service categories do not report problem reports by severity, this requirement does not apply to your organization.

Question 12959 — I am a TL 9000 auditor, and we have a client who applied for a TL 9000 certification in category 7.2.2, Software Development Services. 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 category and specialty defined in the TL 9000 Requirements. There are, of course, implicit ties such as an organization in a 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, 2 are HSV, 14 are SV and 7 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 certification. It is certainly acceptable to develop these processes in Spanish for use by the organization.

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 7.1.1.C.1 Business Continuity Planning: 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 or service 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 or service you provided earlier. Your plan needs to 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 external providers 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 8.5.1.H.1 Periodic Retesting?

Answer — The contract manufacturer cannot exclude 8.5.1.H.1, 8.5.1.H.2, and 8.5.1.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 engineering change orders, manufacturing variations, changes in material, and test processes.

Question - AB/CB Team Supplied — If a contract manufacturer complies with 8.5.1.HV.1 and 8.5.1.V.2, why does it have to comply with 8.5.1.H.1 when the contract manufacturer does not design the product and is not responsible for test development (the customer provides us the test)?

Answer — The contract manufacturer cannot exclude 8.5.1.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 8.5.1.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 engineering change orders, manufacturing variations, changes in material, and test processes.