Quality Assurance Consulting
How to be a Quality Assurance Consultant
If you have found yourself unemployed or maybe just fancy a change in direction and pace then you may be thinking about using your accumulated experience to set yourself up in business providing quality assurance consulting; a quality management systems consultant or ISO consultant setting up systems and providing quality training for ISO 9001 or one of the other frameworks such as the Malcolm Baldridge award or the EFQM.
If you have worked as a quality manager or a similar role and have experience of introducing these quality management systems then this could be a very rewarding change of career for you. That being said it is as not easy as you might think;
Without the right experience, qualifications and a proven track record it will be very difficult to persuade potential clients to hire you as an ISO consultant or Quality consultant and part with their cash.
Planning is for Your Business Too
Planning your business
Think carefully about the services that you are capable of providing and what you feel comfortable doing, do not offer services that are beyond your capabilities; you do not want to gain a reputation as the quality consultant that fails to deliver. You can specialize as an ISO consultant or just offer general quality management consulting or any other branch that you are comfortable within and you can see a demand for such as metrology.
Create yourself a simple business plan and consider the following areas initially to determine the viability of your career change;
- Services you will offer
- Where you will offer them (locally, regionally, country wide?)
- What industries can you work with (Identify how many companies in your chosen area)
- Likely demand (Be realistic and do real research; i.e. how many ISO 9001 registrations each year?)
- Competition (location, skills, services, prices)
Once you have this information examine it critically, if the numbers seem too good to be true they probably are and you are over estimating!
Quality Management Consultant Receiving ISO Certificate
How will you sell yourself?
You have looked at your competition and what they offer, what will you offer that is different? Is there something about what you can do that you can use to differentiate yourself from the competition? Do you have a specific niche industry that no one else covers or a set of skills that they do not have? It is easier to compete if you can offer something that no one else can offer. Are you a quality manager with project management skills and qualifications that you can put to work to more efficiently manage the introduction of a new quality management system, or do you have six sigma training that can be combined with your QMS skills to enhance a company’s problem solving skills?
Do not compete on price, while many companies will choose a consultant to partner with based on price focus on potential return on their investment in you and do not undersell yourself no matter how desperate you may become!
Why do we need Quality Assurance?
Professional Qualifications and Memberships
You may have a degree or a related educational qualification but you should consider membership to a relevant trade organization if you are focusing in one industry or to an institute such as the Charted Quality Institute or the American Society for Quality. The CQI also offers a consultant membership with a code of practice as well as advertising you on their website.
If you are going to implement ISO9001 or related systems then you should consider having passed an ISO 9001 lead auditor course and becoming a fully IRCA certified lead auditor.
What quality services will you offer?
Marketing your Consultancy
Maintaining a steady flow of clients is one of the hardest parts of being a quality management consultant, it can be very easy to fall into the trap of finding a few clients and working hard to satisfy them and neglect continuing to market yourself. The result of this is that as a contract ends you find yourself with no work and then have to spend several weeks trying hard to drum up new business.
You have to maintain a steady pace of marketing even when you are fully booked, or you will find yourself going from peak to trough every few months.
There are several ways you can market yourself;
- Trade Publications
- Quality Publications
- Local Newspapers
- Networking Groups
- Your own website
However the best way is to ensure that you always do a great job and have your clients recommend you to others. I always used to end a project by asking clients to recommend other companies that they feel would benefit from my services, many would happily give me a name and a number whom I could then contact with the opening line “XYZ of ABC.inc said I should give you a call as I may be able to help you..”
Another way to sell your services is to contact personal business bankers and inform them of your services, they meet with many businesses and if they have your contact details to hand when they meet a client struggling with finances due to quality issues it may be your name that gets put forward as the potential solution.
The same goes for getting to know the various government agencies and other groups tasked with helping local businesses such as the business links; most of these organizations do not do any consultancy or training themselves but signpost to providers. They also often have access to grants which can be another great way to get yourself some business if you can show the company how half the cost will be met by the government.
What does a Quality Consultant do?
Legal and Regulatory Requirements
Do your homework; contact a group in your area that works with start up businesses to get a full breakdown of all the various requirements that you will have to fulfill to legally run your business. Many of these groups offer free services to talk through your business plan, marketing plan and so forth. Use them fully as you never know when they may give you that million dollar idea that will help make your business a true success. They will also ensure that you don’t skip regulatory and other requirements that could sink your business if you overlook them. These could cover things such as;
- Professional Liability Insurance
- Personal Pension
- Tax planning
The more planning you put in place and the more people you talk to the more likely that your quality consultancy will be a success. Just jumping out of bed one day and announcing that you will be a quality consultant and putting an advert in the local free ads is not going to start you off in a successful business.