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How ISO 9001 implementation can benefit a consultancy company

The consultancy sector has grown massively in the last decade worldwide, with annual revenues reaching $10 billion being achievable for some top-level companies. With smaller consultancies springing up regularly to support all types of business – from governmental projects, through oil, gas and renewables, to smaller organizations assisting with business management and certifications, such as ISO 9001 and the other ISO standards – the consulting industry has never been so buoyant. As with any business sector, the end user will find that different consultancies have vastly different methods of approach and service delivery, and variable results too. So, given that the ISO 9001:2015 standard is focused on consistency of product/service and satisfying customers, can ISO 9001 implementation be used to bring tangible benefits to a consultancy company?

How can ISO 9001 benefit a consultancy?

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Consultancies are often made up of groups of individuals with similar skillsets and backgrounds working in different ways toward a common goal. In fact, when recruiting for a consultancy business, it often pays to recruit consultants who do not have similar skillsets, experience, and backgrounds, to be able to offer consultancy services for wide and varied projects. It therefore stands to reason that no matter how precisely a consultancy service delivery project is planned, there can be quite defined differences in the methods and interactions with the client and, therefore, the outcome. So, how can implementation of the ISO 9001 standard and principles help a consultancy in this case? Let us consider:

  • Leadership: Commitment by the organizational leader or top management can assure consistency of delivery, motivated staff, and adherence to the achievement of planned objectives through agreed and formalized processes. This consistency of behavior can manifest itself in reliable delivery and ensure that trusted methods are used by the organization. The article How to comply with new leadership requirements in ISO 9001:2015 can help you with this topic.
  • Planning: Addressing risk and opportunity is a core skill required by consultants; in fact, this is often the skill most sought by clients who are looking either to reduce business risk, or expand through the identification and exploitation of opportunity. Any sharpening of understanding or methodologies of risk and opportunity can help improve a consultancy’s performance and reputation. The article How to address risk and opportunity in ISO 9001:2015 can help you understand how risk and opportunity sit within the context of the ISO 9001:2015 standard.
  • Competence, awareness, and documented information: These elements come within the “planning” section of the ISO 9001:2015 standard, and paying particular attention to this section can mean tangible rewards for a consultancy company. Ensuring your consultants are adequately trained and equipped to deliver the stated objectives is “business critical,” and in some cases, establishing your preferred delivery methods as “documented information” can greatly help to clarify methods and outcomes for both your clients and consultants alike. The article How to ensure competence and awareness in ISO 9001:2015 can provide further information on this topic.
  • Customer feedback: This critical element of ISO 9001:2015 represents one aspect, in my experience, that many consultancy companies can improve on. Consultancy projects can take many forms, delivering set projects or outcomes, or sometimes simply trying to improve turnover or even stakeholder relationships. In the instance of the latter, client opinions on the success of a consultancy service has been known to differ. In such cases, using ISO 9001 principles to solicit and act against formal customer feedback can be a huge driver for future improvement, improved client relationships, and critically, repeat business. Our previous article How the ISO 9001:2015 standard can help improve relationships with your customers can help provide more relevant information on this element.
  • Management review, measuring, and monitoring: These critical functions can tie many of the above elements together. Setting agreed objectives, measuring outcomes, analyzing customer feedback, and measuring frequency of repeat business are just some of the activities that can give your consultancy the strategic alignment to grow and flourish, and ensure that the strategic direction of the organization is identified and remains constant.

Ensuring ISO 9001:2015 works for you

Establishing a QMS (Quality Management System) and implementing ISO 9001:2015 principles can have many benefits for a consultancy company, as seen above. It is wise to remember that the standard is in fact a business tool, and that creative managers can use it to extract maximum benefit from the areas of their business that they perceive to be underperforming, during the course of fulfilling the mandatory clauses of the standard itself. Along with that, the “Plan, Do, Check, Act” cycle can be used to improve any consultancy business and, along with strong project management, can be hugely beneficial. However used, there are tangible benefits for the consultancy company who seeks to provide increased customer satisfaction and deliver more consistent results, as organizations in many other sectors have found over the years to their benefit. If you implement ISO 9001:2015 in your consultancy business you will find that consistency of delivery, clear objectives, and shaping your performance to deliver customer satisfaction can bring better financial performance and repeat business, an outcome that is good for any business.

Use our free online training ISO 9001:2015 Foundations Course to learn how this standard can fit into your consultancy business.

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