The process of choosing an ISO 9001 consultant should be given a great amount of consideration as choosing the wrong consultant can cost your company a great deal of money and time. The time wasted could have been spent on analyzing and sorting through the many consultants out there to find the one which is right you. However this is easier said than done, as sorting through so many ISO 9001 consultants is tedious, in this article we will give you a few questions to ask in order to streamline your choosing process.

1. What do you mean by quality?

This is a key question that should be asked no matter what, this will tell you if they have taken any time to think through the definition of quality. Can they explain what it is without having to go through the typical quality jargon. Do they sound passionate when talking about it and the most important thing; does their definition of quality align with yours.

Things to look out for, is if they go on and on trying to find words to explain the term quality to you and what it means to them. If they use a lot of by the book quality definitions. These should be a clear warning sign letting you know that you should let this go. As wasting any more time on them will not improve your progress.

2. How long have you been in the consultant field and what was your best job?

It is very important that you find out about their past and the experiences they have had working in this field. Ask them about their achievements and to expand on them.

Every quality management consultant has had achievements which they would like to brag about, as a recruiter it is important for you to analyse what they are saying and note the criteria they use to find out what their motivating factor is, if they talk about a job that paid the most or took a long time to finish ask them why. You don’t want to be in a contract with someone who is just after your money or someone who takes a long time to complete simple tasks. Any good ISO 9001 consultant will want to walk hand in hand with you in order to improve your business.

3. What was the most difficult job?

This questions should follow straight after the one from above. An experienced consultant will have had at least one or more difficult jobs. Ask them how they responded to the situation, if they learned anything new and what it was.

A tie-in question to this would be to ask them about a job in which they failed at and why. This is to see if they are willing to take responsibility if it was their fault, an ISO 9001 consultant who fully blames their clients should be avoided.

4. What field are most of your clients in?

It will prove useful to know if they understand your field, whether it be services or manufacturing (products), as the two fields require a different approach when it comes to quality assurance. If you are a manufacturer but most of the consultant’s experience lies in the service industry then I would advise not to move a head with the deal. They just don’t understand you’re field and will try to implement ISO 9001 systems that are opposite to the field you are working in.

However that doesn’t always apply and regardless of what is stated above, if they are a good consultant they should be able to transfer their knowledge from one field and apply it to another. It is also better to rely on a good ISO 9001 consultant with limited experience in your field than to depend on a ISO 9001 consultant working in that field who has a poor success rate.

5. Ask them for samples of previous work and references.

Asking for samples allows you to get a decent idea of the approach and methods the consultants will use. Things to look out for are the way they present the information and the style of writing they use, whether it be formal or informal (hopefully it’s formal). That being said ISO 9001 Consultants or any consultant for that matter, usually cannot show much as it’s required to keep our client information confidential.

In relation to samples of previous work it is also crucial to ask them for references from past clients, preferably recent clients (worked with them in the past two years). If the client reference is not recent it may be evidence that the consultant may be out of touch. Any good ISO 9001 consultant will provide you with a few references and if you choose to follow up on references, ask them if they were delighted with the service provided by the consultant.

6. Ask for a written proposal

No matter how big or small the job may be, it is important that you ask for a written proposal. These usually outline what will be done, how it is going to be done and who is responsible for what. It will also outline the cost and the terms of working together.

7. How do you track progress?

If they don’t track progress how will you know how things are going? You as the client should be well informed about what’s going to happen and what has happened. Consultants will usually do this by holding usual meetings or just sending emails to keep you up to date. It is not wise to let the consultant decide everything and leave you in the dark as further down the line mistake covered up by the ISO 9001 consultant could have be very costly to you.

There are still many other important questions that you can choose to ask a ISO 9001 consultants, the ones we chose to define however are the ones that will give you the most information in the shortest time possible. If you feel like we should add more to this list, leave your suggestions in the comments.