ISO 9001 Consulting has been available ever since the ISO 9001 quality management system standards were first published in 1979. At present, nearly a million companies worldwide have been certified to one ISO business management standard or another. These include ISO 9001, ISO 14001, AS 9100, ISO / TS 16949, etc. The statistics that have been accumulated to date indicate that while a number of companies went about implementing ISO standards using internal resources, those that used outside ISO 9001 consulting services benefited the most in terms of speed of implementation, effectiveness and payback.
ISO 9001 Consulting firms offer a number of services. Let us check out some of these so that you can determine what selection of services would best suit your company:
The ISO 9001: 2015 quality management system standard can be a hard document to understand. It is written in quasi-legal language and points out requirements in very general terms. This is certainly so, as it is meant to be applicable to all types of business activity. Quite a few companies have issues interpreting it to their specific business processes. An experienced ISO 9001 consultant can help you apply the standard to your specific business activities.
Before applying the ISO 9001: 2015 standard to your business, you need to know whats missing between your existing business practices and controls relative to ISO 9001. Engaging ISO 9001 consulting services, you can have a review done of your current management system practices, controls and documentation, to establish the amount to which you conform to ISO 9001 requirements. The consultant will give you a detailed audit report indicating the gaps in your company, along with their recommendations. This will help in putting together your ISO 9001 project implementation plan to achieve full conformity.
Project Planning and Organization
Depending on the size and complexity of your company, an ISO 9001: 2015 implementation project can take anywhere from six to eighteen months to complete. Your ISO project needs to be well-planned in terms of how much time and resources needed, specific activities to be carried out, who will be responsible for each activity, milestone reviews, authorizations, training, dealing with problems, etc. A good ISO 9001 consultant can be a valuable aid in assisting your business deal with this important activity.
Business Process Identification and Documentation
ISO 9001: 2015 looks at business processes as the key point of control. These include internal as well as outsourced processes. Some companies have concerns distinguishing between processes, departments and functional activities. ISO 9001 consulting experts can help you identify and properly document all organizational processes relating to your quality management system. These include customer-oriented, management, product realization, resource planning, measurement, support and outsourced processes.
System Development and Implementation
The main emphasis of the ISO 9001: 2015 standard is on effective planning, operation and control of all relevant quality management system processes. This is likely the most time-consuming and difficult part of any ISO implementation project. Many issues may arrise as to what processes should be controlled, what makes for an effective control, how best to communicate and implement it, interaction between processes, how to set process goals and objectives and what records to keep. Here is where using external ISO 9001 consulting will significantly help in answering these questions, provide required focus and facilitation implementation.
Management System Documentation
The latest ISO 9001: 2015 standard has significantly reduced attention on documentation and maximized its attention on effective planning and control. Sufficient documentation is however needed for many business processes in order to ensure consistent application of effective controls. Many organizations have either too much or too little documentation. An experienced consultant can help your organization determine where it is needed, how much and how it should be documented.
ISO 9001 Registrars (also referred to as Certification Bodies) perform their certification audit in two stages. In stage 1, they review how ready your business is (which includes your planning, documentation and internal review activities) and in stage 2 that audit your management system for effective implementation of planned controls, in both cases the review is done against the ISO 9001 standard. After spending several months of implementation, you consider your company ready for the certification audit, it may be useful to use external consulting to do a once-over to determine if you are really ready, identify any shortcomings and help you take appropriate corrective action, prior to the Registrar audit.
ISO 9001 consultancy services often offer a variety of training options. These include
– ISO 9001: 2015 awareness training to employees at all levels
– An executive overview of the ISO standard for top management
– Process identification, mapping, analysis and improvement
– ISO project management
– ISO documentation and implementation
– Internal audit
– Use of problem-solving tools
Based on the extensive internal expertise within your organization, you may wish to have an external ISO 9001 consulting service to provide some or all of this training.
Develop and Maintain your Internal Audit Program
To be certified and remain so, the ISO 9001: 2015 Standard requires your organization to plan and conduct an internal audit program of its quality management system. In these days, many organizations are short on resources, internal audit expertise and employee availability, so they outsource the upkeep of internal internal audit programs to ISO 9001 consulting firms, who do it far more effectively than most internal auditors.
The ISO 9001: 2015 standard expects your quality management system to be dynamic and work towards continuously improving the effectiveness and efficiency of your organization and also enhance customer satisfaction. Many ISO 9001 consulting firms have diversified skills and experience in continuous improvement strategies and methods. These could include problem-solving, six sigma, lean manufacturing, use of various business software and tools, etc. They can greatly increase your pace at gaining further operational efficiency, customer satisfaction and increased business profitability.