29 May 2013

First Day of Consultancy on ISO 9001 and BS7858

I am curious that about retaining a management consultant – or at least someone doing something close to that.  I have not often been on the receiving end of one but have spent the last few years dispensing advice as just that – a Management Consultant.

Peter arrives with a big plastic folder for me containing the full text of ISOs 9001 and BS 7858.  This is very naughty – the origin/ copyright info is blacked out in the margin.  It’s a good start for me though – approximately £180 worth of documents.

I assume that we are going to start going through the standards, read each clause and learn what it means and how it applies to Data Eliminate.  Peter has no such plan.  He asks me a number of questions – he wants to see copies of customer orders and enquiries.  I have none.    Eventually he says that doesn’t matter and that we can draft up the necessary documentation.

What astounds me about what Peter did (and charged me £500 for) was its simplicity. That is not a criticism of Peter.  He did a full day’s work, was obliging and he knew his subject area – but perhaps in a way which was slightly blinkered.  He offers value for money and is an obliging guy.  But compared to the type of “management consultancy” I am used to providing – it was so, so simple and based on the reproduction of standard material as opposed to creative thinking.

He had some set of form templates (Word documents) on his laptop – some relating to ISO 9001 and some relating to BS 7858.  Some of these are forms you fill in and others are processes.  It becomes apparent as Peter goes through these that he is giving a template for the paperwork you need to present to an ISO Auditor to prove you comply.

I am still expecting to go through the ISO requirements and work out how I need to configure Data Eliminate’s accounts, CRM, ERP and customer service workflows and processes so I can accommodate the needs of ISOs.  It seems its almost the case that if you have a few manual forms you comply.

BS7858 is about vetting your staff’s employment history before they start work.  For this you need a documented process which starts something like this

1. Requirement to Vet security personnel in accordance with BS 7858

2. All applicants must complete an application form and be interviewed

3. Collate completed application forms

4. Set up personnel fie

And so on…..

It is completely common sensical.

Another document is a Quote Register done in Excel.  This features fields which would be collected automatically by the most basic quickbooks or Sage software package.

ISO 9001 requires you measure the satisfaction of some (but not all) your customers?  To prove this you have to ask them the questions in writing “Were you satisfied with our service” and thats about it.

As the day progresses, Peter spends increasingly more time working on his own without my input – he is amending more and more templates.  He is heading them with “Data Eliminate Ltd” and making minor amendments.  I keep expecting in depth discussions about processes etc and how they’ll fit in with ERP systems but this doesn’t happen.  I take the decision to let Peter provide as many as these forms as possible to maximise my vale for money by the time the day is out.

I am given a useful sheet on what do next for BS7858 which included the name of a Credit Agency and am advised to register under the Data Protection Act.

By the end of the day I am satisfied that I can move on to look at other aspects of the business idea like the practicalities and machinery for crushing hard drives.  What I don’t have is an understanding of the correlation or interpretation of the long legal like documents Peter gave me at the start of the meeting (the Standards themselves) with the simple forms he gave me at the end.

Based on an account recorded in my diary 

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