Saturday 4 July 2020

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/ Guide to Choosing a Consultancy

To ensure the highest levels of integrity and impartiality, NSI does not provide consulting services, neither does NSI have any financial or other beneficial  arrangement with any consultancy.  The NSI Associate Consultancy Programme (ACP) is a referral facility for businesses seeking help with Certification and business development.

The NSI ACP includes consultancies that provide services not attributable to NSI Schemes, for example: support for Business Continuity (BS ISO 22301), included in order to provide you with support you need for your business development.

When choosing your Consultancy, consider:


Be clear about your reasons for employing a consultant.  Make sure you completely understand what you need and communicate that to your candidate consultancies.

Obtain proposals from more than one consultancy, perhaps 2 or 3 before making a commitment.

Recommendations and References

NSI cannot recommend or comment upon a consultancy, but seek and gather the experiences of others who have been faced with similar needs or have used the same consultancy.  Take up references supplied by consultancies.


Try to find a consultancy with specific experience in your type of business.  A plausible consultancy providing support for the standard you require, may not have experience of its application to your type of business.

Get to Know Your Consultancy

Meet and get to know the consultant who will be providing their services.  It is vital that you understand each other, and approve of their approach.

The Contract

Determine your budget and what flexibility in it you may consider.  Plans and costs have a habit of growing, make sure your contract covers what you need and that the project plan is agreed, then stick to it; ‘scope-creep’ too often can blow budgets and delivery timescales, and cause much friction.  If you feel that the project poses some risk, negotiate some protection, for example: get-out clauses, or late delivery penalties.

Understand the costs, make sure of the charging method – day rate or fixed cost;  travel and subsistence can add substantially to the bill.

If you are unsure about a proposal or a contract, seek clarification.  If unclear or you are still unsure, that consultant is probably not for you.  It is probably better to start over with a new brief than to accept second-best or something you don’t understand.

As with any good plan, establish project deliverables, milestones and quality criteria.  Don’t forget that once the consultancy has completed their task and gone, you have to be able to work with the delivered solution.  How will you make changes to it in the future?

Monitor Carefully

Establish SLAs, make sure your consultant is available when you want them, and that you know what to do in the event of a problem.  If the project does not proceed as you expect, raise the issue with your consultancy as soon as possible; waiting to see if it improves merely postpones the inevitable.


We are interested in your experience of a consultancy, good and bad, please let us know how your consultancy assignments and contracts have gone.  If you feel inclined to commend your consultancy with an anecdote, case study or testimonial, please send us a copy.  Mail your comments to

Still Not Enough?

If you need more in-depth help you might try BS ISO 10019Guidelines for the selection of quality management system consultants and use of their services.