Do you really need an AS9100 Rev D consultant?
Many companies choose to use a consultant when they implement AS9100 Rev D, but is this a necessity? Some companies find it helpful to have a consultant aid them in considering all the factors necessary to create a successful aerospace Quality Management System (QMS), but there are pros and cons to this decision that you need to consider. Here is some important knowledge that is needed for implementing AS9100 Rev D so that you can make an informed decision about hiring a consultant.
What do you need to know?
There are a number of things that need to happen to implement AS9100 Rev D in your company, and some knowledge is required to go along with these steps. You need to understand the requirements of AS9100 Rev D, the implementation and certification process, as well as the legal and industry requirements that apply to your business. Even if you have a consultant help you with implementation, when he or she leaves you will still need to know this information to successfully maintain your QMS. So, it is best to know what is required before you start, even if you choose to have a consultant.
For a better understanding of the process to implement AS9100 Rev D, see the article: 13 Implementation steps for AS9100 Rev D.
Why a consultant?
It is true that AS9100 implementation can be confusing, and hiring a consultant to help you navigate the path to implementation can be helpful. Before you make a final decision, consider the pros and cons.
Among other considerations, here are some of the pros of hiring a consultant:
Speed. It can often take much less time to implement AS9100 with the help of an outside consultant with experience in the process. The consultant may be able to identify problems early since they are not learning along the way.
Experience. Does anyone in your organization have experience implementing AS9100? If not, then you might want a consultant with the experience who will have some tips and tricks that have been learned from other implementations.
Expert from afar. Sometimes it is easier for employees and management to trust someone from outside the company rather than an internal person with the same knowledge. This is called the “expert from afar” phenomenon. If you are having trouble convincing people about AS9100 QMS implementation, it may be easier for them to take instruction from a consultant.
Not everything about a consultant is perfect; these are a few of the cons of hiring one:
Cost. Probably the biggest con is that good consultants are not cheap. There is definitely a cost to hiring a consultant, including the costs associated with teaching the consultant what they need to know about your company. If you don’t teach the consultant about your company you may have an even worse problem when you try to maintain an AS9100 QMS that is not tailored to your needs.
Dependence. Your consultant will not be able to record everything in a procedure, and someone will need to gather the knowledge needed to create the QMS processes. If you rely on a consultant to collect and utilize this knowledge, and don’t ensure it is understood in your organization, you could have a problem when the consultant goes away. Without this critical knowledge your QMS may quickly become useless as it is not maintained.
Lack of confidentiality. This can be a big problem with a consultant. If you want a good QMS you will be sharing a lot of information about your aerospace company so that the consultant can craft your policies and procedures. This could mean that any best practices you have that give you an edge on your competition may be shared with future clients of the consultant, potentially your competitors. If the consultant doesn’t give away your company details this may not violate any confidentiality agreement you have in place.
What are your alternatives?
So, what are the existing alternatives to a consultant? There are many ways to gain the knowledge you need for implementation. Along with in-person classroom training, you can also gain information from online training and resources to help you to understand the standard and how to implement it. Other tools such as documentation toolkits can also be of great assistance in your project. It is best to compare all of these possibilities before making a final decision on hiring a consultant.
It is also important to remember that even if you do hire a consultant, when he or she leaves, you will need to maintain the QMS. To this end it is important to acquire some knowledge about AS9100, whether you use a consultant of not, so make sure that hiring a consultant is not based on the mistaken belief that acquiring knowledge will be unnecessary.
For more about criteria to consider when hiring a consultant read the article AS9100 consultant: How to choose the right one.
What will work best for you?
As has been mentioned, at some point, you will need to learn the QMS to maintain the system, so why not learn it while you implement rather than struggling after the fact? If you do choose to hire a consultant, make sure that you and the people in your organization learn all they can about the system to ensure your success after the consultant leaves. Gather some information before you make your decision to ensure that any money you spend on a consultant brings value, and makes your long-term job easier. A complex system that no one in your organization understands will only cause you trouble in the long run.
For a more thorough look at using a consultant vs implementing AS9100 yourself, see this free whitepaper: Implementing AS9100 Rev D with a consultant vs. DIY approach.
About the author:
Mark Hammar is a Certiﬁed Manager of Quality / Organizational Excellence through the American Society for Quality, and has been a Quality Professional since 1994. Mark has experience in auditing, improving processes and writing procedures for Quality, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems, and is certiﬁed as a Lead Auditor for ISO 9001, AS9100, and ISO 14001.