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 QMSthrough 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?
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.