We talk a lot about auditing here so I thought it was time to also include what you can with your experience and turn it into a career of consulting.
What’s a Consultant and How Is It Different from an Auditor?
To be honest, that’s where I started out in my career. I didn’t want to be an auditor to start with, I wanted to be the best consultant out there!
A consultant works with an organization to develop, implement, maintain and improve their system, their business and management system to conform with any of the ISO standards. Whatever the organization wants to or needs to conform with, whether it's Quality (ISO 9001), Environment (ISO 14001) or OH&S (ISO 45001) or all three of them!
Businesses have consultants come in to support them and help them to achieve conformance and improvement. Part of that role of being a consultant includes conducting audits too though. These audits would be considered internal audits. These internal audits assist them in understanding where the gaps and improvements might be in their system.
Being a consultant wraps everything altogether.
My Hot Tips for Being an Awesome Consultant
I have come across a lot of consultants in my days and I've seen what is quite annoying (I’m being polite here) and what is quite awesome. I thought I'd share with you some hot tips for you as a consultant to take on board.
1. Always Look at What the Business Already has in Place
What processes and what systems are they already using. What are they already doing?
Don't go in and build a whole new system on top of their existing processes. That just becomes very confusing, it becomes one of those monster systems that I've talked about before.
When you consult, the system you build needs to reflect what the business does – not one of those one-size-
fits-all systems! Don’t get me wrong, it's great to have templates and they certainly do help, but the first step is always to look at what they already have in place. Complete a gap analysis first to learn and identify what processes they conduct already, what procedures they have in place, what policies they have in place, what meetings they might already conduct.
You will find that the business will already have most of it there. You might just have to tweak it a little bit or formalize some areas a little bit more.
2. Keep it Simple
Don't go over the top and create a monster system. Build a system relative to the size of the business and the
type of activities that they conduct. The system that you build for a company that's got a thousand employees will be quite different to the system that you build for a small business that has, say up to 10 employees.There's not really a one-size-fits-all system that works well. I have audited some businesses that have only 6 or seven team members and their system has been built for a tier one company of thousands. It's just ridiculous! You’re reading all of these procedures that they don't even do!
3. Let The Business Conduct Their Own Internal Audits
It's great for you, as a consultant to do them initially as part of the set up. I ask you to be a teacher or educator as well and share your knowledge. It's a great opportunity for someone from within the organization, learn from you, shadow you and observe you conduct these internal audits. Then they can take the internal audits on board. When someone within the organization is conducting their own internal audits, they're learning about their own system and they’re learning about their own business. They know their business better than we do as consultants, better than we do as auditors', so it's a great opportunity to hand that over.
4. Let the Business Conduct Their own Management Review Meetings
I see all too often consultants burying themselves within a system. Like the system will not exist or be maintained if it wasn’t for them still being present. I get it, you're running a business and it’s an opportunity for regular work.
There are too many consultants out there that continue to conduct internal audits and continue to facilitate and run management review meetings. I even have them at some external audits that I conduct! Why? It's not your business. It’s great that you’ve supported the business however at some point the system needs to be handed over. Of course, it’s a great idea to support the business in the first few management reviews conducted as this helps them what the process is and what should be included.
Remember though, be an educator as well. Empower people within their own business and hand it back to them as they need to take ownership and accountability for it. If this isn’t done, then they are never going to fully understand what their system is and they're not going to take accountability for it. You will find that when you do hand it over, they're going have a light bulb that goes off and really embrace their system.
What a great achievement for you as a consultant – to be able to do this for your clients.
As a consultant you can come to us for your training on any of the ISO management systems and you will have a great knowledge to then go out and consult.
We also run an AMP program every week which is our ATOL Mentoring Program. Every Thursday we have a group of us that have a chat about anything to do with auditing, consulting, management systems and all the awesome things we have in common.
We've created these additional programs to support you to succeed. We’re not just another training provider!