ISO9001-2008 Consultant, Teacher, Policeman, Therapist

As a consultant, helping companies to achieve and maintain their ISO9001-2008 quality management systems, I play various roles. Depending on the company and the day, I can be a teacher, a cop, or sometimes even a therapist.

The teaching role may be obvious. Especially during the initial implementation of ISO9001-2008, much of what I do involves training people. Even mature quality management systems often require training. Processes may change. New people are hired. Corrective actions may require personnel training.

The “cop” role may also be apparent, especially to anyone who’s been through an internal or third-party quality system audit. I go through company records and interview people, trying to determine if the company is in compliance with both the ISO9001-2008 quality standard, and the company’s own quality manual and procedures. You’d be amazed at how often companies shoot themselves in the foot by requiring things in their procedures that aren’t really necessary, and are not required by the ISO9001-2008 standard. Nobody likes to receive a corrective action request, and I don’t enjoy writing them up. But corrective and preventive action requests are important tools a company can use to identify problems, analyze the root cause, fix the immediate issue, and prevent it from happening again.

Sometimes, though, I end up being a kind of therapist. Companies are staffed by all kinds of people. Some are very emotional, some are not. Inevitably some people I work with are, at times, going through very difficult personal issues. Sometimes these issues spill into the workplace. I am a very good listener, and I try as best I can to listen to my clients’ issues. Sometimes they just want to vent, but often the issues directly affect company operations. After running several small companies I have a pretty good idea of how operations can work. And since I’m not personally or emotionally involved in the client company, I can often provide an objective viewpoint. It’s not always a comfortable role. But I do the best I can to help my clients run their businesses in the most profitable, efficient manner possible, even if it involves a little therapy.

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