Building a Strong International Material Data System (IMDS) Reporting Strategy

Compliance never stays the same. From changes to your products to changes in regulatory requirements, your company depends on a strong compliance program to keep your products moving through the supply chain and on to their final customers. If you find yourself scrambling to find data, communicate with your supply chain, or fill in knowledge gaps on your team, it’s likely that something crucial in your regulatory reporting will fall through the cracks. You want a compliance team that is prepared to meet regulatory changes, troubleshoot problems, and adapt to software updates without hesitation. If you use the International Material Data System to meet either automotive or non-automotive compliance reporting requirements, here are some ways you can build a strong IMDS foundation to prepare for the changing product compliance landscape.

Supply Chain Communication

A single weak link in your supply chain can potentially stop your entire production, which means strong supply chain communication is essential.

In the automotive industry, every level of your supply chain will need to use the International Material Data System (IMDS) for materials reporting. Make IMDS expectations clear to your suppliers from the beginning. They need to understand the data you expect to receive from them, as well as what data quality expectations you have.

If you are a nonautomotive supplier using IMDS to meet requirements, communicate with your customers and get answers to any IMDS questions you have as soon as they arise so you can prevent potential issues. Also, make sure your own suppliers know what the IMDS expectations are.

With the global supply chain issues we have seen over the last few years, communicating early and setting clear expectations with your supply chain can pave the way for smoother compliance for months and years to come.

Minimize Single Points of Failure

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the job market has seen drastic changes. Job turnover has increased as workers are more motivated to find jobs that truly fit their professional goals and desires. This may mean you find yourself more frequently needing to fill positions.

But your IMDS compliance can’t wait weeks, or potentially months, for you to find a new employee. You also don’t want to put your reporting on hold if your IMDS expert becomes unexpectedly sick. This is why having more than one IMDS compliance expert on your team is essential.

Take stock of your company’s IMDS reporting abilities, and if you have a potential single point of failure, consider adding to the team or training other employees in IMDS.

Train Employees

Setting an employee loose in IMDS without proper training can put your materials data and customer relationships at risk. Having a well-trained compliance team is essential to successfully meeting IMDS requirements.

Make sure your employees are trained in IMDS either through your own internal training or with a course like Tetra Tech’s online IMDS training. With Tetra Tech’s training, you can choose from three levels—Basic, Standard, and Advanced—to meet the needs of a variety of compliance team members.

Your employees also need to know of any company-specific IMDS practices you have such as conflict minerals reporting. Make sure any processes are well-documented and consider developing a succinct internal IMDS training for new employees to make sure they understand company IMDS expectations.

Create a Resource Database

Providing your compliance team with all the IMDS data they need will not only help you minimize points of failure caused by employee turnover, but will also give your working IMDS team access to quick-reference solutions for issues they may encounter.

Create a resource database that contains the information your compliance team needs to perform their job and also includes useful company data such as IMDS login credentials, company contact information, company IMDS policies, OEM/customer requirements, and IMDS support documents.

Gather all of this information together digitally and create a file that can be accessed by those on your team who may need it. By having this easy-to-access resource, team members should be able to quickly find answers to questions they may have, ultimately saving time.

Prepare for International Material Data System Updates

DXC Technology, the company behind IMDS, frequently performs updates to keep IMDS relevant to the latest regulatory requirements and customer needs. Earlier this year, they released IMDS 14.3, which allows users to add extended company contact information and improves reporting of recyclate and bio-based materials.

IMDS Release 14.4 is planned for July 2024. This is leading up to IMDS 15.0, which doesn’t yet have an official release date but is expected to bring major enhancements to the platform related to evolving sustainability issues.  

To keep your compliance team running as effectively as possible, stay current on the latest IMDS releases. IMDS provides release notes before their software updates so you can know what to expect. When the IMDS updates go live, make sure your team is prepared to use the newest features. These features are usually introduced to make reporting more efficient and more accurate, so you will want to begin using them as soon as possible.

Get IMDS Support

IMDS can be a daunting software, especially for new employees. To create a strong reporting strategy for IMDS, make sure your team is ready to meet challenges related to supply chain issues, staff turnover, and software updates.

Find IMDS support with compliance services from Tetra Tech. Our expert team has been with IMDS from the beginning, and we can provide your team with the support needed to meet your compliance regulations and customer requirements. Contact us at [email protected] today.


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