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ISO 9001 Consultant or DIY
- What's the Best Approach?
12 February 2020
You've been tasked with getting your company ISO 9001 certified. Now what? Well, you could do it all in-house, and without outside help, providing you've got one or more staff members with the necessary experience. But this is generally either impractical or extremely time consuming, so most companies tap into external expertise.
To help you choose the implementation approach that's right for your company, let's compare the two most popular methods: ISO 9001 consultant and the DIY approach using a certification kit or other resources.
ISO 9001 Consultant
A specialized ISO 9001 consultant can be hired to manage your entire ISO implementation. Most tasks can be completed by the consultant, while the rest are performed by your staff under his or her guidance. Some consultants offer a choice between on-site and remote consultancy.
Hiring a consultant to set up your company's ISO system is the quickest and most convenient approach, with only minimal effort required on your side. In addition, a skilled consultant can contribute experience and best practices to improve your operations. The authority and credibility of an external expert can also go a long way in dispelling doubts and fears among staff, and help a lot to generate employee buy-in.
This approach is costly and to a large extent success hinges on the consultant's ability to gain a sufficient understanding of your company and its culture. Consider too that the sustainability of your ISO certification will be greatly affected by the manner in which the consultant hands over the new system and shows staff how to take responsibility for its operations. This point is especially applicable if the consultant has micromanaged the implementation and created a dependency on his knowledge and expertise.
The Do-It-Yourself Approach
ISO 9001 can be implemented internally utilizing the time and capabilities of employees. The burden on your staff is much reduced through readily available support tools like certification kits, templates, and online or video training.
The Do-It-Yourself approach is the cheapest option. With a good certification kit, it could also be quite easy and fast. In addition, an internally developed ISO system, even when using a kit, can account well for corporate culture and gain employee acceptance and support. As the quality system is developed by company staff, all the knowledge and skills remain in-house and certification tends to be sustainable long-term.
However, even with a good certification kit, the DIY approach requires time, effort, and a willingness to learn. Creating initial momentum can sometimes be an issue, so it's generally best to have the implementation spearheaded by a senior individual who inspires confidence and understands the importance of staff training.
Pros and Cons
The consultant and DIY approaches have their pros and cons, and in the right circumstances both can maximize the pros and minimize some of the cons. Ultimately, your choice will depend heavily on factors like budget, urgency, and staff availability.
No matter what, the consultant approach requires a significantly larger budget than the DIY method using a certification kit. Is it worth hiring an ISO consultant? Will quick certification enable you to retain an important customer and close a profitable deal? Will it be financially more rewarding to have staff time focused on regular business than on implementing ISO 9001? These and other questions need to be answered.
Certification kits and online training are inexpensive, practical, and viable solutions. But due diligence is required. How easy is the kit to use, and will your implementation team understand and warm to it? How much time and effort will it require? And how about the quality of the resulting ISO system – will you get certified, and will your certification remain sustainable?
The answers to these questions are simple: it depends on your choice of DIY toolkit. A good certification package can certainly lead to excellent results. Even without prior experience, a small company should be able to achieve certification within a few months and without neglecting regular business activities.
On the other hand, implementing ISO 9001 from scratch and without external resources will require the most effort and lead to avoidable mistakes. Even if your company has internal ISO expertise, you could use templates to cut down on documentation time, and video courses to improve staff training.
Mix and Match
When comparing ISO 9001 implementation using a consultant versus a DIY kit, it's important to remember the two methods aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, it's possible to combine the best of both approaches to create a solution that's perfectly tuned to your company's needs.
For example, you could buy a certification kit and then hire a consultant to jump start your implementation. You could also write your own documentation and then get a consultant to examine it remotely for ISO compliance. These days it's even possible to get consultants to do remote internal audits. The possibilities aren't endless, but there's certainly a lot to think about before getting started. Check out our page on ISO 9001 services to get a better idea of what's possible.
Choosing an ISO 9001 consultant or a DIY kit, or combining both approaches, is a decision that depends on your company's situation. No matter which option you choose, it's possible to achieve excellent results. Contact us anytime and have our experts evaluate your situation and plot a path to success.
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