What is ISO 9001 and Why is it Important?
A robust QMS will help your organisation manage its documents, processes, procedures, and responsibilities and ensure that you are effectively achieving your quality policies and objectives.
ISO 9001: 2015 is globally the most recognised Quality Management System standard, as of 2019 over one million organisations across the globe were ISO 9001 certified.
Effectively implementing ISO 9001 will help your organisation, no matter what industry you are in or size it is to actively improve your processes and organisational productivity whilst also driving continuous improvement over time.
Some benefits of implementing a robust ISO 9001 Quality Management System include:
- The ability to provide products and services that consistently meet customer, statutory, and regulatory requirements.
- Facilitates opportunities to enhance your customer satisfaction by ensuring you thoroughly understand your customers’ needs and reducing any errors.
- Helps you improve your decision making by ensuring you can detect and identify any problems that may arise and apply corrective action promptly.
- Enables you to clearly identify opportunities for process improvement, reduce any non-conformities and make cost savings.
- Encourages a culture of continual improvement throughout your whole organisation.
What to look for in an ISO 9001 Consultant.
Choosing the best ISO consultant for your organisation is a crucial decision that will influence the effectiveness and efficiency of both your implementation and certification process.
It is crucial that you hire a consultant that has a thorough understanding of ISO 9001 standards and also experience in optimising and implementing quality management systems for organisations in similar industries and size to your own.
Be wary of an ISO 9001 consultant that tries and pressures you into using a specific certification body as they may have a financially beneficial relationship with them and not actually have your organisations best interests in mind.
Good communication skills are also imperative as you will be meeting regularly with your consultant to discuss, review, formulate strategies and carry out internal audits for example, so it is important that you both trust and have a good rapport with your chosen consultant.
Benefits of using an ISO 9001 Consultant
Using a reputable, experienced, and knowledgeable consultant will ensure that your organisation implements a bespoke and well-designed QMS, achieves ISO certification with minimum hassle, and has employees that are well trained in maintaining and continuously improving the system.
Other benefits of using an ISO 9001 consultant include:
- Their outside perspective can help highlight any gaps in your processes and present innovative new ideas on how to approach and best fix these issues and ensure that you are meeting all your legal requirements and the ISO 9001 standards.
- As contracted employees, consultants unlike your other employees, will not be distracted by other tasks, projects, or issues that your organisation may face meaning they can dedicate their time to ensuring the effective implementation of your QMS within the agreed time frame.
- With their experience consultants can give you in-depth insights into best practice that you may have not previously had and effective solutions that have worked for other organisations similar to yours, whilst also providing guidance on how it can be contextualised to specifically fit your organisation.
5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring your ISO 9001 Consultant.
1. What is their experience in your industry sector?
Firstly, it is always important to ascertain whether your potential consultant has robust experience in interpreting and implementing the requirements outlined by ISO 9001.
However, if a consultant has a thorough understanding of and experience in implementing ISO 9001 quality management systems it is still imperative that they are experienced in designing QMS for organisations in a similar industry sector to your own.
For example, an ISO 9001 consultant that specialises in a specific industry sector completely different from your own may be completely isolated from understanding the best practices within yours.
It is also important that your consultant understands your industry’s kind of markets, the types of customers you may have and things you need to do to drive customer satisfaction.
You should also try and work with a consultant that has experience in implementing QMS for organisations that are a similar size to yours.
2. Can they show you examples of QMS documentation that they have created?
This allows you to get a decent understanding of the methods and approach that your potential consultant will use when they are designing and implementing your own system.
Look out for the way in which they present their documentation and the style of writing they use to ensure that they are professional and have a good grasp interpreting ISO 9001 requirements.
Beware of any consultant that would openly share documentation from their other clients’ systems with you, as commitment to client confidentiality is a key indicator of a reputable and professional consultant.
You should also always ask for references from your potential consultants past and clients.
These references should preferably for recent clients, for example if a reference is a few years old this is good indicator that the consultant may be out of touch.
Any good ISO 9001 consultant will be happy to provide you with a few references, so if they refuse this is often a good warning sign to completely avoid their services.
3. How do they plan on implementing your quality management system?
It is always a good idea to thoroughly discuss how your potential consultant plans on implementing your QMS, the steps and sequences they will follow, and the level of participation they will require of your employees so that you understand their expectations and ensure you can commit to them.
Always be wary of consultants that promise to deliver a ready-to-certify system with little input from you or your employees as this will probably not result in best QMS for your organisation being implemented.
It will also offer you insight into whether they are competent enough to design and implement a QMS that is specifically tailored to your specific needs, practices and organisational goals whilst ensuring that you are compliant with legal requirements and ISO 9001.
4. What is the total cost of their services?
When asking this question make sure that your potential consultant openly offers a price quotation for the whole project to eliminate the risk of any hidden fees that may drive up the cost of implementation.
Your consultants price quotation should outline what is included under the fees, how long they expect successful implementation to take and the whole fixed cost of implementation.
Be sure to take quotations from several different potential consultants so that you can compare and evaluate them against the level of service each one offers.
5. How will they track the progress of your implementation?
It is important that you know how your potential consultant will plan on keeping you up to date with how your implementation is progressing and if it fits with your needs.
For example, do they plan on providing you with written reports, updating you via periodic progress meetings or just emailing from time to time to check in.
Be wary of consultants that offer little in the way of consistent communication.
How will you know how your implementation is going if your consultant isn’t prepared to give you frequent and thorough updates or leave room for you to raise and discuss corrections for any issues that you may encounter during the implementation process.