Colin Brown, ISO Consultant, and IAIS Ltd

Apr 29, 2015 | general, The Diary of an ISO Consultant

Despite what others may suggest, life as an ISO Consultant is far from dull. I get a unique insight into how many companies work (or don’t). And, hopefully, I can use this insight to help companies not only achieve ISO Certification, but actually do better business, as I explain here.

So, with that in mind, namely what I bring to ISO Consulting, I thought I’d describe something of my background and ethos. A good ISO Consultant will add significant value to any company’s activities, which is why it’s difficult to achieve certification without one.

And I also hold a Lead Assessor’s Certificate, authorising me to carry out audits on behalf of certification bodies, so I have much experience as a “gamekeeper” rather than “poacher”.  Yes,, the man who comes and asks the questions.

So “who you get” has a great impact on “what you get”. Hopefully, I can help.

I formed IAIS Ltd in August 2007 with the intention of delivering concise, pragmatic, and ethical Quality Assurance and ISO based Management Systems to companies who wanted more than just a documented procedure. ISO standards should give a management team full and effective control of their internal processes. Quality Management Systems only truly “work” if they result in efficient use of resources, and deliver measurable progress toward meeting businesses objectives. Which is why I frequently stress that achievement of certification is much more than downloading an “ISO Standards PDF checklist” from the internet, ticking a box and gaining a logo for your letterhead. It should actually mean better business.

Designed specifically around the objectives you have set for your business, ISO based quality management systems should give reliable, independent evidence-based reports of your progress, and a structured methodology for addressing those problems which do arise from time to time. Put simply, they will measure what needs measuring, and give a route to fix what needs fixing.

So, that’s my manifesto. Hopefully, my career path makes these issues more than just wishful thinking, and helps me to apply practical solutions to real business problems, whilst gaining certification for my clients.

How did I get here? I did not take the academic route to the quality industry, but literally “grew up” with manufacturing industry. I became involved with the practical application of quality control, and found the combination of the practical and theoretic experience highly useful in addressing business problems.

I left school to join Plessey Telecommunications as a Technician Apprentice at a time when the Nottingham factory took in raw materials and produced complete products. In came steel, paint and electrical components, and out went complete telephone exchanges and other electronic equipment. I worked on everything from rolling mild steel bar to make screws, cutting brass to make jack plugs, to calibrating digital equipment. Fibre optic communication systems were just becoming viable for long haul telecomms, and I worked on the commissioning teams for the first large-scale systems before moving on to work on the early generation business telephone systems, at that time being sold heavily into major PLCs and public bodies.

I encountered Customer Service Departments for the first time as the liberalization of the UK telephone market hit and distribution was no longer only through the national telephone operator. Quality and service suddenly mattered. Meanwhile, Plessey became GPT (“GEC Plessey Telecommunications”) and introduced a new partner to the business, Siemens.

In 1993, technology development seemed to have stalled as GEC and Siemens debated long term strategies. Wanting to increase my knowledge on the new “Quality Assurance” schemes sweeping through businesses, I left the telecommunications industry, and joined Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance (LRQA) as a Management Systems Assessor, responsible for the completion of ISO 9001 assessments. This introduced me to a huge range of industries and companies all over the UK, and Europe. My knowledge of electronics and fabrication was extended into Utilities and Electrical Engineering. And I suddenly became involved with manufacturing of many types, as well as maintenance and service activities in a range of industries. I also got used to working with different sizes of business, with client companies varying from one man in an office, to many of the UK’s largest employers.

In November 2000, I joined Marconi as Quality, Health, Safety and Environmental Manager, and got to implement some of the theory I had learned through LRQA. Although Marconi soon got itself into major financial trouble, eventually becoming “telent Ltd” time with the company gave opportunities for involvement with the implementation of newer systems and ISO standards. Hence, I wrote many tender responses and established systems for Business Continuity, ISO 27001, Information Security, IT Service Delivery to BS 15000 (later ISO 20000) in addition to the more established Quality, Environment and Health and Safety Systems.

In 2007 I was given the opportunity to establish my own consultancy, initially working for both LRQA and telent, but have gradually built my own customer base covering a variety of industries. I have also developed a range of associates allowing me to service larger contracts in a cost effective manner.

So this particular ISO Consultant hopefully brings an approach founded in the business of actually making things, making them work for their customers, and creating a bespoke system that ensures things continue to work.

If your company could benefit from the down-to-earth, pragmatic and realistic approach of ISO Consultants, please drop me a line.


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