The current competitive marketplace is demanding for quality products and services that deliver exceptional customer experience. Getting globally recognized as a “quality first” brand can be the key to achieving a competitive edge in today’s growing global marketplace. If you are considering certification, choosing the right ISO Consultant is a critical decision that will determine how efficiently and seamlessly your certification process will take place. The right consultant can also change how fast you achieve certification.
In the whole process of ISO certification, your ISO consultant plays a pivotal role in terms of providing solutions for problems you may not have even realized. Hence your consultant must be knowledgeable on the process flows, required optimizations and compliance parameters.
Important note: An ISO consultant cannot give you an ISO certificate, that is the role of a Certification Body (CB). Your consultant is responsible for setting you up to be ISO compliant and passing the external quality audit performed by a third-party auditor from a CB. It is only after passing your external audit that your organization is issued the ISO Certificate. Consider your ISO consultant an extension of your organization, not a third party.
Parameters you should be assessing while choosing your ISO Consultants:
Relevant Knowledge and Expertise
When selecting a consultant for the implementation of a standard in your organization, consider their knowledge on the fundamentals of ISO Standards, specific requirements, common mistakes they have seen in their history as a consultant, documentation support, etc., because you will need to rely on them to be the expert on ISO so you can remain the expert on your organization. You should also consider the consultant’s history and track record for the number of certifications issued for their clients and their current client base. Consider this your initial product review, you may even want to check references and/or reviews as this will illuminate the efficiency of the consultant you are interested in.
Your ISO Consultants should be responsible for providing support for organizations across multiple disciplines and stages. They should be experts in advisory, consulting, management and internal auditing. When considering a consultant, the success rates, past projects, client satisfaction, diverse industry experience, client testimonials and case studies will help you in determining their credibility. Be sure to obtain honest, reliable and credible client references as they are an effective means to choose the right partner to initiate your ISO Certification process.
When finding client references, look for organizations in similar industries or niches to your own who have successfully obtained an ISO certificate as it will give you added confidence that this consultant is comfortable and familiar with your industry and the unique challenges it faces.
Communication and Building Rapport
You will be meeting your consultant for regular reviews, discussions, strategy formulation, internal audits, and other activities deemed necessary, so it is important to build a rapport and trust your consultant. You will be working together for the successful implementation of ISO Complaint processes, final certifications and for renewals each cycle of the certification process. Trusting your consultant to properly advise you is paramount. Ensure you set yourself and your team up for success with proper communication lines – consult your organization to determine if this consultant fits well into your organizational culture. You might want to consider using similar practices as to that of hiring for your own team, as your consultant should be viewed as an extension of your organization.
The ISO Consultants must be competent enough to deliver customized services for their clients as every client should begin with a clean slate. Each organization is different, even within the same industry as their other clients, so it’s important that they tailor every item to your specific needs and listen to your actual practices. It is important to remember that your processes that are written down, should be what you do or will do. When it comes time for your certification audit, the auditor will be checking and double-checking your processes, and if your consultant copied previous examples from their clients and it’s not something you do, you will be written up for a non-conformance. The accuracy and specificity must be detailed by your consultant to ensure your organization is set up for success. Standard implementation should be flexible enough for your needs and must align with the organizational goals while still being compliant with the ISO requirements.
Being result-oriented is extremely important in the ISO industry. Your ISO consultant will outline an implementation timeline including the process improvements, general dates for internal audits, recommend necessary training, and other important KPI’s (key performance indicators), within the timelines and budgets discussed to ensure your organization will achieve certification. Process improvements and implementations should be selected carefully and strategically to utilize time and resources effectively within your organization to maximize your organization’s potential for future business growth and ensure the standard is a value-added system.
Pricing and Timelines
Proper ISO implementation and certification is a long-term investment and highly result-oriented, therefore, we recommend considering all other factors before you evaluate the dollar value of each consultant you are considering. While price should be a factor in your decision, it is important to know what is associated with the price tag including quality, experience, knowledge and all the factors we’ve already covered in this article.
Hence, while deciding on the pricing, have a detailed meeting and go through the service offerings and capabilities of the ISO Consultants. The quote you receive from your consultant will consider numerous factors like the timelines and turnaround of your certification, your organization’s size, industry, complexity, and if you’ve ever been certified before. If you are brand new to ISO standards, it will be a much more in-depth process to implement your system than if your consultant is simply reviewing and improving your system.
Your consultant must provide clear timelines with milestones and an estimated completion time of the ISO Certification process from the start to getting certified and the renewals when they provide you with a quote. Understand that this might not be exactly accurate to what will happen. As hidden costs and altered timelines might occur during implementation.
Your Checklist for choosing the right ISO Consultant
- Do they have the required knowledge and expertise on the specific standard you are looking to get certified to?
- What is their history within your industry? Can they provide you with client reviews and their client history within your industry?
- Do you trust this consultant and does your organizational culture match with this individual or consulting team?
- Does this consultant customize their services to meet your requirements and unique challenges?
- Are they results-oriented and willing to outline specific KPI’s that will ensure your certification is a value-added process?
- Do you believe the cost of their services is fair for the benefits you will receive?
When considering your ISO consultant, it is important to look at the bigger picture. Consider the time involved with your consultant, your trust and confidence in their work, and the value you believe their work will have in improving your operations. This is a lengthy process depending on your current status with the standard you wish to be certified to, so choosing the best consultant for your specific needs will make your time and investment well worth it in the end if you choose the right consultant for your organization.
About the Author
John Wick is an ISO Consultant working with Aurion ISO Consultants in Dubai. John likes to write on ISO Training, ISO Consulting, latest changes in ISO Standards, industry-wise benefits from getting ISO Certified. Reach out for expert consultation on any ISO related queries.
Aurion ISO Consultants, Dubai offers world-class ISO Services such as Training, Consulting, Certification, Implementation, and Audits in Dubai, UAE and Worldwide.
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To the novice quality manager, ISO jargon can be extremely overwhelming. What is an NCR? What do you mean by OFI? Are we certified or accredited? But before you go and pull out your hair, let’s take a moment to go over some of the most frequently used terms and their definitions with regards to ISO and Management System Certification.