For organisations looking to implement ISO 9001, trying to navigate the process internally can often prove extremely counterproductive. Even with the best intentions, the nominated individuals will usually lack the skills and experienced needed to effectively and efficiently complete the project in the same way and within the timeframe that a professional would.
Engaging the services of an ISO consultant is the first step to on the path to achieving ISO 9001 certification and it’s important that you know what to look for and that you choose the right individual or company to work with that suits your business needs.
Why Are You Hiring a Consultant?
This is something that you need to get clear in order to make the process of finding a suitable consultant quicker and easier. Having an awareness of what it is you need, the level of support and guidance you expect and the resources required will help to set out expectations from the start. These professionals are certified in different ISO courses, so they better know all the regulations that a company needs to follow to get ISO certification. Consultants usually perform various supporting roles that include;
Advising – helping to interpret the standards and guide managers on their implementation.
Management – project managing the implementation either in part or in full.
Implementation – providing additional hands-on resources to undertake specific tasks such as internal audits and implement plans.
Support – performing regular activities and ongoing support.
It is important that your prospective consultant has the necessary relevant experience to successfully implement the required standard for your business. Be sure to ascertain the type and amount of experience they have with;
Industry experience – do they have expertise within your industry and have previously worked with organisations with similar core activities?
Management systems experience – proven experience of working with and implementing ISO 9001 management systems.
Standard experience – have a thorough understanding of ISO 9001 and experience of interpreting and implementing its requirements.
It is not uncommon to end up spending a lot of time with your ISO consultant or team and they will have access to your people and processes which means that building a good rapport and a strong, mutual trust is essential.
Meeting your consultants face to face before you proceed with the selection process is important to help narrow down your choices.
There can be a number of different techniques and methods used when it comes to management system implementation which will often depend on the type, size and scale of the organisation. The consultant will need to factor in things such as the required levels of support, cooperation and resources which are required for the task and explain the methodology behind their approach. Implementing a management system is a team effort and the consultant will need your time, energy and resources in order to ensure that it is successful. Understanding their expectations along with your own will help to make sure that both parties work together effectively to achieve certification in a way that is straight forward and efficient.
This will of course be one of the key considerations when it comes to selecting your ISO consultant. It’s important to remember not to simply opt for the cheapest option as this does not necessarily mean it will be the most cost effective overall if there are issues, additional costs or wasted time along the way.
Some of the key things to factor into your cost considerations are;
- How will the costings work, is it charged on a day rate or a fixed cost for the project, in advance or on arrears to be paid upon completion.
- What is included within the costs such as travel, subsistence, expenses etc?
- Service level agreements.
- When and how will the consultant be available?
Comparing the costs and the above factors with at least 3 consultancy services will give you a good idea of what you are getting when it comes to value for money.