We are frequently asked why an organisation might use a consultant to help them with gaining certification; justifying the cost and explaining why they need external assistance. The answers to this question are several and depend on the situation, the deadlines for certification and the level of knowledge already in the business.
The decision to seek certification to any ISO standard by an organisation is normally the result of commercial pressure. It may be that the organisation needs it to secure a contract, to assist with growth or to enter a new market. The decision to appoint a consultant will be analysis of the benefits of certification against the cost.
Seeking certification will always have resource implications – organisations must consider if they have sufficient personnel (with the correct skills) and the time in their diaries to invest in gaining certification. When using an internal resource we must ask, Is this the best use of their time, when there may be more pressing needs of their skills within the business?.
The key benefits of using an external consultant might include:
- Efficiency – with possible tight timescales and limited resource, a consultant can ‘hit the ground running’ and develop a system suitable for your organisation quickly and efficiently
- Experienced consultants will always develop a bespoke system – one that is tailored to your needs and expectations (avoid those that offer a ‘pre packaged and apparently less expensive option)
- Consultants have extensive knowledge and understanding of the ISO standards – they know how to interpret them and will ensure your system is fit for certification first time
- Consultants can lead the project on your behalf – with no distraction they are focussed on the job in hand. Unlike other staff who may have many different calls on their time
A good consultant shall always clarify what they are going to deliver and ensure that their client knows which parts they may still be responsible for. The consultant may take full control (and responsibility) for certification or they may simply be there to deliver an audit or to write some documentation. Clarity on where roles and responsibilities lie will be at the heart of the relationship between client and consultant.
Consultants should also provide their clients with a long-term plan. Conscientious consultants will not simply set you up for certification, they will also have the long-term in mind. This may include guiding staff, offering training and ensuring that the system set up is now viable and easy to operate. There is nothing more frustrating than a consultant helping an organisation to gain certification for that to then be at risk 6 months later when they have walked away. Think of it as after care!
At QCS we provide every one of our clients with a clear proposal and service level agreement – this clearly outlines what we shall do, what will be delivered, and by when. This provides clients with the level of reassurance they need in order to be fully prepared to gain certification and enjoy its real benefits over the longer term.
We are proud of our record with clients and have over the past 3 years assisted over 70 companies with both gaining and retaining certification to a wide range of standards.