You can find quality consultants, process improvement experts, management consultants and industrial engineers all competing in the same space. But what do quality consultants do? And what can they do that others cannot?
Set Up Quality Management Systems
A quality management system or QMS is a formal system for defining business processes from handling payments to manufacturing products and shipping them out the door. Every process is monitored for its performance relative to business standards, and there is a set plan of action for when quality levels begin drifting downward.
The challenge for many businesses is creating the formal, structured quality management system in the first place. For others, the problem is determining how to change one’s processes to improve product or service quality while maintaining control and the same level of supervision.
Verify Quality Standards Are Being Met
A quality management system is necessary to meet ISO 9001 and ISO 4501 quality standards, though that isn’t enough in and of itself. The product or service also has to be delivered in accordance with other ISO standards while the quality level is high enough, too.
Quality consultants can audit your existing processes and documentation to ensure that you meet ISO standards before you apply to receive that coveted certification. Or they may audit you to prove to third parties that you do indeed meet ISO standards.
In the case of software development, CMMI standards are a contractual requirement. Relatively few quality consultants can audit to these standards, though many can advise you on how to meet government contracting regulations.
ISO Edge is notable for being able to help you meet ISO 45001 standards on occupational health and safety.
Improve the Quality Levels of Existing Processes
Suppose you are delivering your product or service and earning a decent profit margin. However, product returns and customer churn are costing you money. You want to improve your quality level across the board, whether it is delivering the right product on time every time or making a nearly perfect end product. Jumping for the latest quality fad like Lean Six Sigma or 5S may cost you money, since that may not be the right tool for solving your problem.
There are many different process improvement methodologies out there and choosing the wrong one wastes time and money. A quality consultant might recommend using lean principles to streamline operations instead of lean six sigma. You might be given specific advice to improve the bottlenecks in production instead of revamping the entire factory.
Quality consultants regularly provide training in various process improvement methodologies so that your team can sustain the gain and do the next round of upgrades on their own. This allows your company to continue to improve as required without having to constantly bring in costly consultants.
Set Up Other Management Systems for Your Company
Quality consultants occasionally aid organizations in creating formal management systems for other aspects of the organization While “quality” is part of the job description, they may also help you set up formal processes to manage risk, manage documentation, streamline audits and manage your suppliers.
A quality consultant may be necessary to help your business transition from one quality management system to another, too.