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Code of Conduct

A consultancy or training provider is defined as an organisation providing professional management advice, guidance, training, secondment of staff or support services enabling clients to continuously improve their performance.

PRINCIPLE ONE - PROTECTING THE INTERESTS OF CLIENTS

Consultancy and Training Organisations shall protect the interests of their clients in all their dealings.

Application of Principle One

1.1 Providers should respect confidential information regarding a client's business, in perpetuity, and not disclose or permit the disclosure of any such information without the client's prior permission, or unless so ordered by a court or statutory body of competent jurisdiction.

1.2 Providers should not seek or encourage publicity concerning work for a client unless the nature of that publicity is fully agreed with the client.

1.3 Providers should refrain from inducing any employee of a client to consider alternative employment. (An advertisement in the press is not considered to be an invitation to any particular person.)

PRINCIPLE TWO - ENGAGEMENT OF SERVICES

Consultancy and Training Organisations shall, before commencing an engagement to perform work, ensure that they have defined and agreed beyond reasonable doubt the terms of engagement, the nature of the task to be performed, how the work will be performed, the desired results of that work, how performance of the work will be evaluated and rewarded and the provision for termination.

Application of Principle Two

2.1 Providers should supply the client with a clear written proposal identifying the objectives, scope of work, fees or fee basis for any proposed assignment or training course.

2.2 Before commencing work, providers should ensure that there is full agreement with the client on:

  • deliverable results of the work, and how achievement of these will be evaluated
  • how the work will be performed
  • the key accountable individuals involved in the work
  • the timetable for the work
  • the amount, timing and method of payment of fees and expenses
  • any other terms and conditions of contract
  • the way in which variation of the terms of the agreement may be made at the instigation of either client or provider
  • the way in which either party to the agreement is enabled to terminate the agreement.

2.3 Providers should take reasonable precautions to ensure that a fair agreement can be achieved by virtue of each party to the agreement understanding the parameters for the work being considered. This should include:

  • the provider obtaining information from the client about circumstances likely to affect the nature and outcome of the work
  • the client being made sufficiently knowledgeable to reach an informed decision about the nature of the service to be provided
  • in respect of training courses, ensuring that the client is made aware of the prerequisites for trainees attending courses.

PRINCIPLE THREE - QUALIFICATIONS TO PERFORM WORK

Consultancy and Training Organisations shall ensure that they accept only those assignments which they are qualified to perform with regard to experience, competence and resources; any significant diminution of ability to perform the work that occurs after engagement must be fully communicated to client organisations.

Application of Principle Three

3.1 Providers should not at any time communicate information about the scope of their services - or their competence, experience, qualifications and resources - that is inaccurate.

3.2 In the context of specific proposals or agreements to perform work, providers should similarly avoid commitment to perform work for which they are insufficiently qualified or experienced, and/or for which they have inadequate resources to perform to the standard which would be required without the client's prior knowledge or consent.

3.3 Providers should provide clients with the details of their qualifications and resources before engagement.

3.4 Providers should ensure that any significant diminution in their ability to perform the work is communicated fully to clients as soon as this is feasible. This would cover such examples as:

  • loss of availability of personnel who are important to delivery of the agreed service
  • deterioration of the provider's financial position such as to jeopardise completion of the work
  • lasting damage to the other resources of the provider, e.g. in relation to premises, telecommunications, computers
  • competing commitment to other work or clients.

3.5 If providers become aware of any change in a client's circumstances which significantly limits their ability to perform the agreed work, they should notify the client accordingly.

PRINCIPLE FOUR - DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL INFORMATION

Consultancy and Training Organisations shall ensure that they disclose to clients and potential clients without delay any relevant information or other circumstances which might in any way influence their engagement or their work for the client.

Application of Principle Four

4.1 Providers should, prior to engagement, disclose to a prospective client any personal or financial interests and circumstances of the organisation or individual personnel which might:

  • affect the client's selection and engagement of the provider
  • influence the work performed by the provider for the client
  • influence the judgement of individual provider personnel working for the particular client, and the nature of the advice or training they provide
  • in any other way give rise to a conflict of interest.

4.2 If any such information becomes known after engagement, this should be disclosed to the client without delay.

4.3 Examples of such information include the following:

  • any directorship or interest in any business in competition with the client
  • any financial interest in goods and services recommended or supplied any personal relationship with any individual in the client organisation the existence, but not the name, of any current client with competing interests
  • any known personal circumstances of personnel assigned to work for the client that could materially affect completion of the work to the standard agreed
  • receipt by any individual employed by the provider of payment in cash or kind in connection with the services provided other than that agreed with his or her employer
  • payments or gifts of any kind to employees of the client organisation by the provider without agreement of the client organisation.

PRINCIPLE FIVE - QUALITY OF SERVICE

Consultancy and Training Organisations shall have identifiable means in place to ensure that the work performed meets the objectives and requirements agreed with the client, and that any failures to achieve these are promptly addressed.

Application of Principle Five

5.1 Providers should maintain accurate records of the work performed for clients.

5.2 Providers should maintain effective communication with clients throughout the course of the work performed or training provided, to ensure clients are kept informed at regular intervals of: progress made, costs incurred, problems encountered in performing the agreed work.

5.3 Providers should disclose and agree any changes in key accountable personnel assigned to the agreed work.

5.4 Providers should ensure that at all times the advice or training given, and goods and services supplied, are suitable for the agreed purpose.

5.5 Providers should have systems to monitor the quality of service or training being provided, in order to ensure that the terms of the agreement to perform work are fully met.

5.6 Providers should avoid making recommendations that incur costs or work clearly in excess of what is required to perform agreed tasks.

5.7 During progress and at the conclusion of the work performed, providers should seek to ascertain from the client whether the nature of the work performed is viewed as satisfactory.

5.8 Providers should maintain clear procedures at all times to deal with the possibility of any disagreement or dispute with the client about the nature of the service provided.

5.9 To cover the possibility of any failure to provide services to the agreed standard, providers should ensure that - where the cause is attributable to the provider - an identifiable system exists to achieve an improved service in future.

5.10 In the event of any dissatisfaction or complaint expressed by a client, providers should make provision to reach agreement, as part of the contractual arrangements with the client.

5.11 In the event of a dispute arising out of an engagement under these principles, an adjudicator/arbitrator shall be appointed by agreement between the parties or, in the event of their failing to agree, by the President or Vice President for the time being of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

© The British Quality Foundation. Last updated 6 January 2012.