Can my Consultant attend my ISO Audit?
Of course they can! The more relevant question is whether they can “get involved”.
Firstly there are NO accreditation rules that forbid consultants, registrars rarely have documented policies for consultants involvement and thus the auditor often makes the decision.
Not unreasonably nobody wants any interference in an audit. A consultant who tries to answer questions asked of other people is interfering. That is not acceptable and the auditor should talk to the consultant. However, there is nothing restricting the consultant from being involved. Perhaps the consultant has a formal role in managing corrective action, conducting audits or providing training.
There is nothing that bans auditors from opening or closing meetings (although some auditors try this) and you should stand your ground when an auditor restricts your access to your experts. If you don’t involve them they will not be able to help you if things go wrong.
ISO 9001 requires the management representative to be part of the organizations “own management” but it is unlikely that ISO were commenting on the employment status of the person performing this role and that would mean that so long as the consultant has a management role in the organization they can in fact be the management representative. If your auditor is adamant (many of them are) then simply appoint the consultant to the role of coordinator and assign an internal manager as the management representative.
A well behaved consultant will contribute with answers to difficult ISO type questions and point the auditor in the right direction. A clever auditor will welcome the consultant and take advantage of his/her expertise and experience with the organization. Bad auditors are scared of being embarrassed or just believe that ISO should be handled by the organization without any help (a little bit like going to court without your lawyer).
Before the audit, get a copy of your registrars policy for consultants (or at least an email confirming it will be acceptable). Preferably do this before choose the registrar and only choose those that will allow you access to your experts.