How to choose the right ISO consultant for your business
Once a company has made the decision to gain ISO certification, working out what is entailed to achieve this, what resources will be required and how long the process will take, can be a daunting task.
Many businesses simply do not have sufficient available and skilled resources to undertake the journey all by themselves and so look for a specialist ISO consultant to support them.
However, finding the right consultant can be very challenging as there are many different service offerings.
So, what are the critical factors you should consider in your selection process?
What level of external support and resources do you need?
- Are you seeking a consultant to come into your business to do an initial gap analysis and identify the areas in your current processes and systems which need to be uplifted in order to be compliant against the specific ISO standard and then for you to continue the work to achieve this?
- Are you looking for a consultant to provide you with a package of templates for you to use to create your own management system?
- Are you wanting an end-to-end hand holding service where the consultant works with you to produce an ISO compliant management system bespoke to your business and gets you ready for the external certification preparing your first set of internal audits and chairing the first management review meeting?
Experience in your industry sector
- Does the consultant have previous experience working within your sector?
- Do they have suitable customer references which they can share?
Qualifications in the standard
- Do they hold an IRCA (International Register of Certificated Auditors) qualification in the relevant standard?
- Do they hold any other relevant qualifications e.g., NEBOSH for Health and Safety?
The Commercial Model
- Does the consultant operate on a day rate or on a fixed price project where they will work with you at your pace to allow for any business interruptions so that you don’t need to worry about the final price tag ever increasing.
The value of working with an independent consultant
- Is it important to work with a consultant who provides consultancy only services and is not tied to any specific certification body so that they can ensure that the management system they build for you is capable of acceptance from any certification body?
Support post the initial certification
- Are you looking for on-going support from your consultant to help you maintain your management system by providing monthly/quarterly internal audits or by acting as your outsourced Quality Manager?
So, in short here’s a simple 10-step checklist of the key areas you need to cover off:
- Decide on the standards you require and the budget you have available to spend.
- Appoint someone in the business to project manage the work and to oversee the external consultant.
- Decide on either UKAS-accredited certification or non-UKAS certification and review your customer requirements to ensure the certification will be accepted.
- Find a consultant that can advise on the most appropriate and cost-effective certification route for your business.
- Look for a fixed-price project or decide how many days consultancy you need.
- Decide on the level of service you require e.g., Gap Analysis only or a full end-to-end implementation.
- Identify a consultant who can provide the proven experience in your industry sector with the appropriate skills and qualifications.
- Decide on how you will manage the documentation – for example, do you need a software platform, or are you going to use SharePoint?
- Look for a consultancy who can advise on any grants in your local geography for which you may be eligible.
- Finally, meet, or at least, talk to the actual consultant with whom you will be working to ensure they are a good fit for your business.