Companies considering the use of a consultant will have to justify not using internal resource. “Why should I hire you?” is also a question I have to answer on a regular basis. As such I thought it would be useful to document what I see as the major benefits of using a management systems consultant.
A consultant can be used for many reasons, but a few of the key things that a consultant can bring are:
- Additional resource.
Customers may be well versed in the standards and able to write their own management system, but time poor and using a consultant is an easy way to provide additional and flexible resource.
A consultant will bring a broad experience of companies, industries, management systems, management system processes and the tools used to manage these.
- Knowledge of standards.
A consultant will bring a knowledge of what is needed, and more importantly what isn’t needed to meet the requirements and where this line should be drawn. Your certification auditor is unlikely to advise what isn’t needed (that’s called consulting and they are supposed to be prevented from doing this while auditing).
- Writing skills.
A good consultant will understand what needs to be in a policy or procedure, write well, use appropriate language, write logically and write to minimise the need for maintenance.
Imprinting of training is best achieved in your workplace, when it is directly related to what you do and is conducted over a period of time. A consultant on site achieves this.
- Fresh perspective.
People who are close to the work often overlook the obvious. A consultant has a fresh perspective and can often recommend significant improvements after asking the most rudimentary of questions.
- Right write first time.
If you were going to build a system from scratch how long would it take and how good a job would you make of it? I have been to companies where it takes longer to get their existing in-house system up to scratch than it would to replace it with a tried and tested new system (and I always suggest this option where appropriate). A consultant can provide a great starting point or a rapid leg-up.
All these things can be provided by a good consultant. A poor consultant may bring none of the above. A poor consultant is unlikely to be in business very long, unless they are not a full-time consultant. This is important. I have unfortunately come across a few “consultants” who consult part-time when they are not working as lawyers or other such profession. I wonder how good they are at being lawyers if they have to supplement their income with management system consulting?
Of course I’m a consultant, so I’m biased.