In many organizations ISO 9001 consultants play a significant role in the implementation of ISO 9001 and the subsequent certification audit. Their role is crucial because they can do the hand holding during your journey towards attaining business excellence through successful Implementation of the ISO 9001 quality management system. They enable faster learning and help you establish and implement a system that suits you very well. They help you choose the auditing firm(certification body), which is best suited to your business processes.
In order to attain successful ISO 9001 certification, it is essential to have a certification audit conducted in your premises. An independent auditing firm (registrar or the certification body) chosen by you will send qualified ISO 9001 auditors to visit your establishments for performing the external audit. The firm will register your company for the audit and issue the certificate as soon as the audit process is completed successfully.
Sometimes there is confusion about the role of the external auditors and consultants. The consultants can’t audit and certify you, because they are meant to assist and coach you, whereas auditors must act as independent examiners. Consultants assist in planning and creating documentation so that a formal system is in place. If a QMS already exists; they will do the gap analysis to enable you to know what is missing, so that new procedures and other information can be added to ensure conformity. They train the internal auditors needed to conduct internal audit and provide awareness training to employees. They advise you on weaknesses in the system and preventive actions required. After the audit, they help you to resolve the NCs and other audit observations.
Selection of the ISO 9001 consultant
Consultant is selected on the basis of his or her past performance as well as the background. Trade bodies such as chambers of commerce, as well as professional bodies sometimes keep a list of approved QMS consultants. Minimum requirement is that the consultant or his staff must have attended lead assessor training courses and transition courses and qualified themselves as lead assessors for the latest revision of the QMS standard. Websites of the consultants may give some idea about the industries they are able to guide and advice. Prior experience and knowledge of the applicable business processes could be a plus point.
References from previous clients, as well as the results of previous projects in terms of time and cost incurred are considered. Often a small part of the project such as gap analysis is awarded initially. Milestone based fee is also one of the options. Consultants often provide a written proposal for a fee based on the size of the clients operation.
Selection of the ISO 9001 Auditors (Registrars or Certification body)
The ISO 9001 Registrar (certification body) is the independent entity that sends the auditors to conduct your certification audit. One must look for officially accredited registrars. The reputation of registrars should also be ascertained with the help of trade bodies or the professional bodies. The criteria for the selection of registrar can be finalized with help of your consultant.
Critical factors to be considered in the selection process include:
- accreditation and other credentials of certifying
body or registrars (Every country has an accreditation body: ANSI-ASQ
National accreditation Board in USA)
- scope of the accreditation: determine if the
scope of accreditation certificate applies to your business processes,
- references and global reputation/recognition
- fee for certification audit as well as subsequent
- their terms and conditions
- comfort level, flexibility to suit your time
- confidentiality and ethical issues
- how to tackle issues of interpretation of clauses
of the applicable standard
- credentials and competence of the auditors, who will be assigned to
Thus the selection of a competent consultant and a reputed certification body at a later stage, paves the way for successful certification of your company for ISO 90001.