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There are a few situations in which a company could benefit from hiring an ISO or quality management consultant such as expanding the scope of an existing ISO certification, improving your functional performance within the current QMS through additional training, resources, and education, and finally facilitating a new ISO certification project.

The relationship between client and consultant should be one built on trust and mutual respect. This is critical since the consultant will need the to lead the client through the ISO certification process informing and educating along the way so that the client becomes more knowledgeable and stronger while driving the implementation process forward.

An Organised Approach to Choosing a Consultant

But how do you go about choosing the ISO consultant that is best for your organisation? We recommend, starting early, gather information, and use the following methodical approach before you begin consultant interviews.

Establish an ISO Committee or Team that is made up of individuals who will serve as contact points for the consultants.

Assess the company’s strengths and its weaknesses, including issues that could threaten your ability to achieve certification.

Define exactly what it is you are hoping to achieve from ISO certification.

Conduct frank and open roundtable discussions to discover agendas and define goals.

Document your project goals.

Create a “wish list” that you will use as a guide for evaluating a consultants fitness to serve the interests of your organisation.

Basic Criteria for Choosing an ISO Consultant

 

1. Experience and Skills

You have to do your research, not only into the consulting company but also about the individual who will be performing the consulting. The following are some questions to help you evaluate this area.

Does the consultant have certificates like Lead Auditor Course or Lead Implementer Course?

How many jobs has the consultant performed?

Does the consultant have a track record of shortening implementation time?

How long has the consulting company been in this business?

Which industries has the company and consultant worked with?

2. Reputation

Does the consulting firm have references that back up their experience and know-how for implementations of similar scope? It is important that your team does its due diligence by following up with the references provided.

3. Customized Services

Your company is unique so too must be the solutions the consulting company is prepared to offer. Avoid “copy and paste” consultants. They often show up with predesigned templates with little else to contribute. Unless the consultant is willing to tailor their services to your needs, you would be better off attempting the implementation unassisted.

4. Language and Communication

A consultant who doesn’t speak your native language (or speaks in a broken dialect) can lead to disaster. One job of a consultant is to understand the unique nuances of your day-to-day operations, and that can be difficult with a language or communication barrier.

A Word of Caution: Conflict of Interest

A consultant will be privy to your most critical and proprietary information. Make certain to have non-disclosure contracts in place to cover these areas so that you are not left vulnerable. Beware of contractors attempting to upsell you on software or other additional services.

A knowledgeable and professional ISO QMS consultant can make certification implementation a much easier process for your organisation. An expert consultant will possess analytic skills and the ability to identify and help you avoid pitfalls that can be time-consuming and add cost to the project. It is important that the consultant’s offerings are synergistic and align with your company’s goals and action steps. The consultant you choose should be an excellent communicator who has a process in place for leading you step-by-step through the complete certification project and a precise idea of what the auditors will look for, recommending the best solutions for your organisation.

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When you get your ISO certification, there are a number of certification bodies you can get from. Many people wrongly assume that a certification from a larger certification bod has more value. However, this is a myth. The reality is that ISO certification bodies throughout Australia (in fact across the globe)  provide the same level of certification, though it’s important to choose the one for your own reasons.

Why is ISO so Important?

ISO, known as the International Organization of Standardization, is responsible for developing and publishing international standards. When you want to assure people that you have a safe and reliable product, the ISO certification provides the necessary assurance. Many customers look for the certification, before they award the work.

When you choose ISO, you can actually use this as a strategic tool to reduce your costs because of minimizing errors and waste. You can ensure that you are using an international standard, and it will allow you access to new markets, including those overseas. The world as a whole is familiar with ISO certification and therefore you can get involved in fair global trade. Developing countries will often turn to the ISO to learn about new processes, such as managing animal welfare and improving sanitation.

ISO works within an array of sectors, including climate change, food, health and safety, energy and renewables, and much more.

How to Receive Certification

When you are ready to receive ISO certification, you need to choose a certification body, sometimes known as a conformity assessment body (CAB). To do this, you will want to look at a few different bodies in Australia to find out who they are and what they have to offer.

– Ensure that the body has a good reputation, see and understand   what existing customers say

– Check for accreditation. A lack of accreditation does not mean the company isn’t reputable, though it will provide insurance that the body is competent.

After you have gone through the ISO certification process, you will identify a product or system with the numbers, such as ISO 9001:2008 certified. Saying “ISO certified” is not a proper way of displaying your certificate.

ISO does not provide the certification directly, which is another common myth about getting certified. It must come from a third party CAB.

Choosing the Right CAB

ISO recommends that you go through International Accreditation Forum (IAF) in order to find a CAB. The IAF is the world association for CABs in the field of products, services, and an array of management systems. You will have the ability to search for a CAB within a specific country as well as to read more about them.

The IAF also provides news and publications to educate you more about ISO standards as well as current trends that may be taking place across the industry. This can be used to conduct research about a specific product or service prior to getting certification to ensure that conformity on the latest best practices are in place.

In the end, the only thing that is displayed once ISO certification is received is the ISO stamp with numbers on the product or service. No one ever sees the assessment body. This means that you can use the body of your choosing in order to receive the ISO certification. One body is no stronger than another. It doesn’t mean that you have a better ISO certification than another. You either receive the certification or you don’t. This allows you to choose the body you want to work with, regardless of where you are located.

With many third party certifications to choose from, some research should be done. Sustainable Certification has a great reputation amongst businesses in Australia who are seeking ISO certification on various products and services.

 

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