The Role of an external ISO 27001 Consultant

May 17th, 2023 Posted in ISO 27001

What is the role of an external ISO 27001 consultant?

The role of an external consultant in an ISO 27001 implementation is an important one. While some organisations may choose to handle the implementation process internally, an external consultant can offer a range of benefits that may not be available otherwise. In this article, we will explore the key role of an external consultant in an ISO 27001 implementation and how they can help your organisation achieve its goals. 

Experienced ISO consultants 

First and foremost, an external consultant brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the table. Implementing ISO 27001 can be a complex process (for more information, download our free Guide to ISO 27001), and having someone with experience in the field can help your organisation avoid potential pitfalls and make the most of its resources. Consultants have typically worked with a wide range of organisations of different sizes across a variety of industries and geographical locations, which means they can offer insight and best practice advice that may not be immediately apparent to those who have not been through the process before. In particular, an external consultant can help interpret the various clauses and controls of the standard and give guidance specific to your own context on how to prepare for certification audits and the type of evidence certification auditors may look for.

Furthermore, organisations are certifying to multiple ISO standards, many are integrating their management systems into one single system for cost and efficiency reasons. This can be a daunting prospect, but it doesn’t have to be. An external consultant can help you integrate ISO 27001 and ISO 9001 into one management system. 

“We knew taking on ISO 27001 certification and running a business at the same time would be difficult to do – but it’s been very helpful having that external iso 27001 consultancy, to give us that bit more momentum and keep us on track during busy periods and understand where we are and help push us over the line.” – Jack Mellor, Managing Director of Personnel Checks. Read the full ISO 27001 external consultancy case study here. 

Impartial view 

Another key role of an external consultant is to provide a fresh and independent perspective. It can be all too easy for you to become mired in your existing processes and procedures, which can lead to a lack of innovation and creativity. By bringing in an external consultant, your organisation can benefit from an impartial review of your current practices and identify areas where you can make improvements. An external ISO consultant will also advise you on how to choose an ISO certification body.  

Bridging the gap 

External consultants can also help bridge the gap between different functions and stakeholders within your organisation, coordinating the input of a range of stakeholders, including IT, legal, HR, and management. The external consultant can help ensure that all functions are working together effectively and efficiently and are focused on the same goals. This promotes consistency and coherence. It can also save time, money, and resources in the long run and should help ensure that your organisation is ready for the certification audits as per pre-agreed target dates. 

Knowledge on trends 

Furthermore, an external consultant should help you stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and developments. The world of information security is constantly evolving, and it can be difficult to keep pace with the latest technologies, threats, and best practices. Not only that, but ISO standards change every so often, such as the latest changes to ISO 27001:2022 and an external consultant can ensure you keep on top of any changes that occur and make sure you comply in time with the updates. Your organisation can ensure that they are staying ahead of the curve and taking advantage of the latest trends, tools and techniques to protect their sensitive data. This can also be beneficial when thinking about ways to ensure continual improvement.  

How to choose an external ISO consultant 

It is important to choose a consultant who is not only experienced and knowledgeable but also a good fit for your organisation’s culture and values. ISO 27001 implementation typically extends over a period of several months and can be a challenging process, and it is important to have a consultant who is able to work collaboratively with your team and communicate effectively with all stakeholders. A good consultant should be able to offer guidance and support, should be available when you need them to be, should provide regular reporting on progress, and alert you to any issue or risk to the project.  

Other services  

Further to the implementation, an external consultant can usually offer various other services. You may choose to work with a consultant on a project basis. Alternatively, you may opt for ongoing support and guidance, with the consultant acting as a trusted advisor to the organisation as they work towards certification. 

Some of the specific services that an external consultant may offer include: 

  • Initial gap analysis: This involves benchmarking your organisation’s existing information security practices against the requirements of the standard and identifying gaps and areas where improvements are required. Take a deeper dive into ISO Gap Analysis and its benefits. 
  • Risk assessment: This involves identifying and assessing the risks to an organisation’s sensitive data and developing strategies to mitigate those risks. 
  • Policy development: This involves developing mandatory but also non-mandatory policies and procedures to support a coherent and consistent approach to compliance. 
  • Employee training: This involves providing and delivering training and awareness programs to employees to ensure they understand their role and responsibilities in maintaining information security within the organisation. 
  • Internal audit: This involves conducting regular internal audits against the various ISO clauses and controls to ensure continued compliance with the standard. Read more about internal audits within ISO 27001.  
  • Ongoing Support: This involves helping the organisation to complete ISMS Maintenance activities such as Management Reviews, Internal Audits, Access Control Reviews, Asset Reviews, Document Updates, Risk Assessment Reviews and other recurring, mandatory activities. 

Conclusion 

Overall, the role of an external consultant in ISO 27001 implementation can be critical to a successful implementation. By bringing in someone with expertise in the field, you can ensure a smooth and successful implementation process that meets the necessary standards for information security management.  

Additionally, external consultants can provide valuable guidance and recommendations to help you identify and address any vulnerabilities or weaknesses in your current security practices. Ultimately, this can lead to a more secure and resilient information system that is better equipped to handle the ever-evolving threat landscape.  

Considering an external ISO consultant?  

If you are thinking of gaining ISO certification, we’re here to help wherever you are on your decision path. We can help with an initial workshop, carry out a full gap analysis, support your ISO project, help with the integration of ISO standards into one management system or manage your management system for you. Our ISO consultancy service is run by experts who will act as an extended member of your team. Whether you simply need a pre-certification assessment or require end-to-end support in building your framework, we will help you become and remain certified.

If you’d like to understand more about our ISO services, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Learn more about our ISO consultancy services or contact us today for a free consultation.  

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Daniel Djiann Evalian Limited 250x250

Written by Daniel Djiann

Daniel consults on ISO 27001, ISO 22301, ISO 9001 and business continuity. He has specialised in organisational resilience for much of his career, working as a consultant and in-house for multi-national organisations. He is also Head of our ISO & Business Continuity Practice. He is an ISO 27001 and ISO 22301 Lead Auditor and a Member of the Business Continuity Institute, MBCI.