Choosing a Consultant for Your ISO 9000 Implementation

By Dov, Moshe | Industrial Management, January/February 1998 | Go to article overview

Choosing a Consultant for Your ISO 9000 Implementation


Dov, Moshe, Industrial Management


Executive Summary

The use of an external consultant when registering for an ISO 9000 standard is extremely important when the goal of the registration is not only the certificate itself, but also a true and meaningful improvement in quality One must consider carefully the cost and qualifications of an external consultant, since the extent of cost reductions and methods improvements will rest on the outcome. A good ISO 9000 consultant will emphasize repeatedly that quality derives from the company itself and not from the consultant. The company, therefore, should form its own quality procedures, while the consultant guides the process.

The process of registration for an ISO 9000 standard in most cases forces the use of an external consultant. A consultant is required because much experience is needed in such a process, and also because internal employees often cannot be dismissed from their duties for the sake of the registration process. The use of outside help is extremely important when the goal of the registration is not only the certificate itself, but also a true and meaningful improvement in quality. Nevertheless, one must consider carefully the cost of an external consultant, compared with the benefits derived from cost reduction and methods improvement.

Because of a lack of regulation, companies that are considering hiring an external consultant are advised to learn about the considered consultant not only from brochures and handouts, but also from the opinions of former (and current) clients. Is it possible to avoid hiring an external consultant? The answer depends on your organization, its structure, and the factors that led to the decision to begin the registration process for an ISO 9000 standard. Large corporations can often afford to spare a few workers, send them to seminars regarding ISO 9000 registration, and allow them to work on the implementation process on their own. Small to average-size companies may be unable to create an in-house ISO 9000 team and thus will have to hire an external consultant.

Identifying a qualified consultant

How do you determine who are qualified consultants? How do Iou determine if their services are vital? Before coming up with the answers, it is essential to understand how ISO 9000 quality consultants act in order to assist you. There isn't any one way or one method that quality consultants must adopt. Moreover, no two organizations require the same approach.

As much as possible, consultants must operate as contributors to an internal process in the company, and must encourage clients to help themselves. A good consultant will not try to take over the whole implementation process, as an all too greedy consultant will do. A good consultant understands that quality procedures must come from within the company, and should be an integral part of the company's work process. Consultants give directions and determine the manner in which they are applied; they make processes more efficient by recommending changes in the organization and methods of improvement.

Nevertheless, the company must adjust its process on its own, decide how to realize the quality procedures, and continue working according to the quality procedure after the certification has been reached. Thus, the quality procedures should be reasonable according to the company's long-term policy, and one should not adopt quality procedures haphazardly, but should instead consider them carefully.

A good ISO 9000 consultant will emphasize repeatedly that quality derives from the company itself and not from the consultant. The company should form its own quality procedures, while the consultant's role is only to guide the process. For that reason, one should avoid hiring consultants who sell more than they can deliver.

The company should be presented to the consultant in a manner that will enable him to assess if the company can benefit from ISO 9000 standards, and how well the company can operate under those standards. …

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