Many organisations use an expert ISO consultant to help them design, implement and maintain their management systems. Sometimes they appoint one from the off, to help with every step of the journey. Sometimes organisations make a start, perhaps even getting as far as their Stage 1 audit, only to realise they’re in a little over their heads!
There are many good business reasons for getting help from a consultant and you can read our top eight below.
1. They’ll probably make a better job of it than you.
No offence meant. But an established consultant will have done this plenty of times before, having helped many organisations just like yours. Chances are, you’ve never implemented such a system before - maybe once or twice if you’ve worked in other organisations. With a consultant, you’ll have all that experience and expertise on tap.
2. You don’t have to learn the standard inside out.
Of course, with a UKAS accredited ISO management system, senior management within the organisation have to take ownership and show leadership, so you do need to know the principles and understand the basics. You can’t just delegate everything to an external consultant. But you won’t need to spend days reading up and going on advanced training courses (although a Foundation course is still recommended).
3. You can get on with your day job.
You likely have other responsibilities within your business. Whatever amount of your job description is apportioned to your management system(s), you’re always going to have other distractions like managing staff, budgets and operations. A consultant can totally focus on the management system, so you can get on with other aspects of your day job.
4. Implementation will be quicker.
A consultant will likely be able to get your system implemented quicker than if you do it yourself. Not only because you’ll have an extra pair of hands helping you, but because they don’t have distractions, have seen it all before and know all the pitfalls to avoid. This means you should be ready for your certification audit sooner than you would otherwise be.
5. You don’t need to employ extra staff.
Because a consultant isn’t on your payroll, you can switch them on and off as you need them. You may just want them to provide an advisory service as you develop your system or to build and implement your system and get you certified, then leave you to get on with it yourselves. Alternatively, you could want them to support you for years to come, doing internal audits, assisting with management reviews, liaising with the Certification Body and arranging external audits on your behalf, or even adding more ISO management systems and creating an integrated management system. You’re in control and can turn the level of assistance required up and down as the need arises.
6. They improve your business.
Of course, the whole point of implementing an ISO system is not just to demonstrate compliance, but to actually improve your organisation and embed continual improvement (a requirement of all major ISO management systems). An added benefit of a consultant is that they have experience of working with dozens - possibly hundreds - of businesses just like yours, in your sector. They bring all that best practice knowledge with them - not just about the ISO system, but about other aspects of building a more successful organisation too.
7. It's probably cheaper in the long run.
Using a consultant normally pays for itself and, for some organisations, is cheaper than employing a permanent member of staff. Of course, it all depends on your individual circumstances like the size and complexity of your organisation for example. But when you consider the time you can save in implementation and the added benefits a fresh pair of eyes can bring, it could be a false economy to think you can do it yourself.
8. It’s not cheating!
In case you’re worried that using a consultant may be seen as cheating - it’s not. Auditors from Certification Bodies won’t mark you down for engaging the support of a consultant. In fact, around half or more of smaller businesses use a consultant (and for more specialist systems, it’s much higher).
By the way, if you’re wondering why UKAS accredited certification bodies can’t provide consultancy services themselves, it’s because the requirements of our accreditation mean we have to remain independent and impartial. UKAS accredited certification bodies are certified to ISO 17021, the standard for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems. This prohibits such bodies from providing services to design, implement and maintain management systems. After all, if we did provide those services and then also certify the system, it’d be like marking our own homework.