There is a dangerous trend in the ISO consulting arena. Executives are spending their entire quality budget on inadequate quality systems implemented by unscrupulous or inexperienced ISO consultants. When it’s too late, the executives figure out that what they actually exhausted time, money and resources on is not a quality system. They spent it on a stamp that reads “ISO Certified” and a consultant who didn’t do much past making himself a cup of coffee every time he came to visit.

Some time ago, I met with the owner of a company and discussed his desire to be ISO 9001 certified. Ultimately, he went with the other guy and I wished him well. About a year later he called me in to talk about his current situation:

He received his ISO “Stamp”. (Ok… good)

The “consultant” was also his ISO surveillance auditor. (Yikes…conflict of interest)

After the consultant bestowed the “stamp” upon the company he convinced the owner that he needed to come to visit once or twice a month to audit & review the processes. The owner was so proud of his accomplishment that he called the FDA in to approve his system. The FDA Auditor quickly informed the owner that he found no evidence of a quality management system. (…Woops)

These consultants not only give professional service providers a bad name, they also give ISO 9001 a bad reputation. There are people out there who are desperate. They’ll waste your money and your time and they will cause a lot of confusion within your organization. Consider the following when hiring any consultant:

  • Start by getting a good understanding of what you actually need. Many consumers start the process by paying for a consultant to tell them what they need because they’ve done zero research. It’s worth a few hours of searching the internet and benchmarking to establish an initial list of objectives before you start spending the big dollars.
  • Document a plan in coordination with your consultant. Don’t let the consultant define goals for you because he/she might be redefining your (established) budget in the process. Ensure that the consultant’s proposed deliverables are aligned with your goals. This is very important!
  • Set a budget and stick to it. Inform the consultant that you will not exceed the budget. This is where the monthly goals come in handy.

Every consultant/customer relationship should be a partnership. Unfortunately, these days, it takes extra steps to ensure that you are getting the most “bang” for your buck. Protect yourself. Protect your business. Protect your future.

By Deirdre Mercedes

Filed under: Articles & Interesting Tidbits

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