Magazine article Industrial Management

Selecting an ISO 9000 Consultant

Magazine article Industrial Management

Selecting an ISO 9000 Consultant

Article excerpt

Dissect the ISO 9000 certification procedure with an eye for the hidden costs and two segments of the process will leap out--the cost of consultants and the cost of making in-house improvements for the sake of passing certification.

Because there is no regulating arm in the U.S. setting rates for consulting fees, those fees will vary from consultant to consultant, The lack of regulation also means that there is no organization to fall back upon when, and if, the decision is made to hire a consultant. The American Society for Quality Control (ASQC) will release a list of consultants who work in the quality field. But unlike the British National Registration Scheme, the ASQC does not screen consultants and offer certification to those that meet its standards.

The lack of similar regulation and standards in the U.S. bothers officials of the U.S. Registrar Accreditation Board. The American RAB, based in Wisconsin, advises U.S. companies in line to hire a consultant to learn as much about the consultant as they can ahead of time, not just from brochures and what they have to say. Get references from companies (that have employed them in the past) and ask for companies they have worked for outside of ISO, as well.

Can you avoid hiring a consultant? The answer depends on your company, its make-up and circumstances surrounding your decision to seek ISO 9000 certification. Many large corporations have sufficient staff levels to free up several employees, send them to seminars on ISO 9000 certification and work through the implementation process on their own. Small and mid-size companies may not have the option to create an in-house ISO 9000 certification team and may very well need some assistance from a qualified expert.

How to determine who is a qualified expert? How to decide whether his/her services are necessary? Before making this all-important decision, it is crucial to understand how quality ISO 9000 consultants can operate to assist you. There is no single way or method consultants should adopt, nor can they assist all companies in the same way. But it is possible to determine when a consultant is taking advantage of you through over advising and increasing the workload or may even be under advising or neglecting your concerns.

As much as possible, consultants should act as facilitators of an in-company process and encourage the client to help itself. A good consultant will not attempt to take over the total certification process to earn higher fees. A good consultant will also realize that quality standards and procedures must be generated from within the organization and become a working part of the organization. …

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