Many organisations will choose an iso consultant to help implement and maintain an ISO Management System such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001.  They will do this for a number of reasons but mostly because it’s quicker and cheaper in the long run than trying to educate yourself internally.

Choosing an iso consultant can also bring in valuable knowledge to your business and they can also guide you through the certification process such as talking to Certification Bodies such as Auva.

There are some key things to consider when selected an ISO Consultant:

  • Price

  • Deliverables

  • Experience

  • Standards

  • Competence and Training

  • Guarantees

  • Personality

Price of an ISO Consultant

There are many ISO consultants in the market and selecting one can be tricky and shouldn’t just come down to price.  Obviously price is important but sometimes you get what you pay for, that doesn’t mean to say the most expensive are the best but just be careful on going straight for the cheapest.  In fact, we know of some very expensive consultants who aren’t actually very good and some cheaper consultants who are.

When assessing the consultants the price should play a part in your decision but not the only part.

Deliverables

A good consultant will not create the entire system for you, they will get you to do a lot of the work, you might ask what are you paying for?  Their knowledge and also they know that if they write the system you will not take ownership and this will cause problems down the road.  Having an off the shelf system will fall down at some point, usually when the consultant isn’t there to support you as the system doesn’t fit your business.

Be careful of consultants who offer guarantees, there are no certain things in life apart from tax and death, obtaining certification with no findings is not one of them.  There are consultants who will promise you that you will sail through and get no findings and this is just not realistic in all cases.  There will be instances where organisations do sail through with no findings but this is not the case for around 90% of organisations, especially first time around.

If this is being guaranteed then you need to question how they are going to do this, if it’s a case of “use my friend to get you certified” then this is someone you need to steer clear of.  Auditing is an impartial process and there should be no ties with any certification body.  Consultations may have their preferred Certification Body to work with but you are free to choose who you want to work with and no deals should be on the table.

Experience of the ISO Consultant

Many iso consultants become consultants after spending time in industry, usually within a quality role.  Knowing the background of the consultants you are reviewing is important, just because they have 20 years experience of manufacturing does not mean they are suitable for consultancy.  It’s different when you are sitting on the other side of the fence and knowing how to implement a system in your own organisation is different to implementing in someone else’s business.  Every business is different so coming in with an off the shelf, one size fits all system will not work.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t use someone who is new to consulting, but consider their experience and knowledge when talking about what they will do for you.  I would expect their experience to be reflective in the price they are offering.

It’s also important for the consultant to understand your sector, they do not need to be experts but they need to have some understanding about how your sector and industry works.  What types of regulations exist and what are some of the industry norms you experience.  A good consultant will not be an expert in your field but will know how to get the best out of you and use your knowledge to build the system.

Standards

One of the most frustrating things to an external assessor is consultants who claim they can do any standard.  Someone will ask them to help them implement something they know nothing about and they just agree to it, once you have read one standard you understand them all!  and when an external assessor challenges the system and has been trained to that specific standard the consultant fights back as they have interpreted it differently.

This can cause a lot of issues during the assessment process and can result in the consultant being asked to leave as their role is not to take part in the assessment.

Ensure your consultant knows and has experience about the standard you are asking them to support you with.  Get some proof as well, they may say yes when you ask them but ask for some references that will demonstrate they have in fact implemented those standards before.

Competence and Training

It is frustrating to hear consultants challenge external assessors when they have not had any training against the standards themselves.  Many haven’t been on the basic ISO 9001 lead auditor course or they did in 1980.

Although they don’t need to attend formal training courses for each standard you would expect them to have some minimum qualification and then maybe some awareness training for other standards.

It is also important for them to receive ongoing training, external assessors are required to perform ongoing training through CPD.  they need to keep up to date with knowledge and changes to standards, consultants should do the same.  This could be webinars or seminars but there should be some effort to keeping their knowledge up to date.

Guarantees from ISO Consultants

Be careful of iso consultants who offer guarantees, there are no certain things in life apart from tax and death, obtaining certification with no findings is not one of them.  There are consultants who will promise you that you will sail through and get no findings and this is just not realistic in all cases.  There will be instances where organisations do sail through with no findings but this is not the case for around 90% of organisations, especially first time around.

If this is being guaranteed then you need to question how they are going to do this, if it’s a case of “use my friend to get you certified” then this is someone you need to steer clear of.  Auditing is an impartial process and there should be no ties with any certification body.  Consultations may have their preferred Certification Body to work with but you are free to choose who you want to work with and no deals should be on the table.

Personality

This is probably something that is overlooked in a lot of cases.  If the personality doesn’t fit with top management or the internal staff who will be working with them it’s destined for failure.  The person you choose needs to fit nicely with your own ethos and generally be a nice person.  You will be working with this person for 6-12 months or even longer if you decide to have ongoing support.  If you do not get on with this person then it’s going to be a hard and long journey.

Auva have a list of ISO Consultants on our website that you can contact should you need help.  The list is free and open to review.

Auva Registered Consultants