How much will setting up an ISO compliant management system cost?

Setting up an entire management system for an organisation is a project which requires a significant investment of both time and money. However there are varying budget options available ranging from the low budget through to the high budget option which will determine the overall system cost. Choose from one of three options depending on your time, level of interest, skill and budget.

  • How much will setting up an ISO compliant management system cost?

    The answer is, that it depends on your individual set of circumstances.

    Common sense will tell you that setting up an entire management system for a business is a project which requires a significant investment of either time or money and setting up an ISO compliant system is exactly that.

    It is possible to achieve ISO compliance with a minimum of expenditure. However, as with many things, the way to save money is to DIY – and that means even more time and effort is required. The overall cost will depend on the level of internal expertise and how easy it is to free up personnel to work on the project. You, as the business owner will generally be able to decide which is the best route to take.

    A good indicator that DIY is a sensible approach is that you already have a capable and experienced person who can champion the project internally and who can be freed up at least one half a day a week for 6-12 months without significantly impacting on the core business.

    Lowest budget option:

    If you’re really on a budget, it is probably tempting to go online and purchase a template. However in most cases, this is not something we would recommend. Templates, by their very nature, are generic and cannot possibly hope to cover every potential business model or industry type. What they do attempt to do is contain as many variables as possible within a compliant documented system which will pass the audit. Unfortunately, this often means that they are highly over documented, contain much information which is not relevant or necessary to your business, and will be lacking the key elements particularly around product, service delivery and control that are unique to your business.

    So while the upfront cost is minimal, unless you have experienced people within your organisation who know the requirements of the ISO standards very well, it may be a difficult and time-consuming task determining how to customise the template to suit your business and knowing which parts are compulsory and which can be discarded.

    In almost all cases, templates are not designed with business growth and efficiency in mind, but are structured purely around compliance to the standard. For this very reason, many template systems sit gathering dust until a few weeks before the audit when everyone rushes about and attempts to remember what they were supposed to have done to meet the requirements. It doesn’t have to be this way.

    If you are hell-bent on using a template, there are a couple of templates which we can recommend (with caution!). It will still require much work from your perspective as well as the time to understand what is required and to customise the template to fit your business. Be prepared that setting up the system yourself, with all the inevitable stops and starts when other priorities derail the project temporarily, will probably take up to 12 months to complete.

    Mid budget option:

    The next tier would be to invest in a comprehensive gap assessment of your system including a full action plan of how to close out any gaps. Armed with this, and assuming you have capable people on site, (especially if you have anyone who has prior experience of setting up ISO systems), you can work through the action plan at relatively little cost and have a compliance audit done once the system is complete.

    It is probably also advisable to have a couple of short visits from a qualified consultant throughout the project to ensure that you are on the right track. This will prevent expensive mistakes and rework. Be prepared for the fact that this option will probably take up to 12 months to complete. Getting consultant help at this level could be expected to cost between $2000 and $4000.

    Time poor/ higher budget:

    For those who have neither the time nor the interest to put into DIY or customising templates, the next budgetary level is to get a consultant to set up your system for you. There is an up front expense associated with this, however, you have the reassurance of knowing that the resulting system will pass the audit and you minimise the amount of time and effort your internal people need to spend.

    If you choose a consultant who specialises in lean, document-light systems which are built on the way you already do business and what is working well, you may not need to make very many significant changes to what you are doing. Just tweak it here and there to bring your processes into compliance. Productivity is not affected to nearly the same degree and in general, the project is completed in a fraction of the time it would take to do it yourself. You still need to devote about half a day a week to complete the tasks set by the consultant but the project is generally completed within 3-6 months, depending on how much involvement your staff are able to have and how promptly they complete the tasks such as making decisions on business priorities and policies. You can expect the consultant only single system to cost anything from $7,500 to $15,000 depending on the size of the organisation and the level of risk.

    On another note, if you are intending on becoming compliant to more than one standard, it is MUCH more cost effective to implement a system which covers 2 or 3 standards at once. All the ISO standards have considerable overlap with each other, and so setting up 2 standards is generally only half as much again as a single system, if you integrate them together. Don’t let anyone tell you that you need separate systems – this is both costly and inefficient.

    So there you have it; 3 tiers depending on your time, level of interest and skill and budget.

    ICS are committed to supporting small businesses who are attempting to get ISO compliant or certified or just want to improve their business processes in order to grow.

    If you need any more information, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 1300 132 745 or contact us via our website.

 

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