Contract testing lab selection – Top 10 points to consider

The testing lab you partner with can make or break your reputation in the market, because they determine the quality of your products and their compliance with relevant regulatory standards. Giving the responsibility for your product quality and hence your market image to the right partner is a crucial decision. Based on feedback from clients from around the world we have compiled a list of top 10 points you must consider when selecting a testing lab to partner with.

1. Accreditation –

Working with an accredited laboratory significantly reduces the guess-work and risk for you and helps satisfy the regulators. The globally accepted standard for testing laboratories is ISO/IEC 17025, it lays down the general requirements for the comprehensive quality management system. To get the accreditation testing labs have to establish a standardized quality system which ensures the quality and traceability of the results produced by the lab. An accredited testing lab is regularly audited by trained experts from the industry to verify compliance the standard, so even if you are not an expert at auditing the lab you can rest assured their systems and processes are audited by experts and are of a global standard. A lot of regulatory bodies have accepted this as a minimum requirement for approving a laboratory and even US FDA has issued a draft guidance on accepting abbreviated data packages from accredited laboratories.

2. Regulatory Approvals –

Before you select a testing lab you must make sure that they are approved by the relevant regulatory bodies so that the data generated by them is acceptable to your regulators. For example, if you are working in the pharmaceutical industry in India the lab must be approved by the drug control department to issue reports on Form 39 of the drugs and cosmetics act. If you are exporting food products the testing lab must be approved by APEDA and the Export Inspection Council of India. Like this each industry has its own regulators that must have granted prior approval to the laboratory, a list of regulators that have approved our lab is given on our accreditation and approval page.

3. Experience working with your industry –

This is a very important point, especially if you are a small or medium size enterprise. If your testing lab partner has experience working with your industry they can bring far more value to your business than just testing samples. They can help you understand regulatory requirements, help you network within the industry and a lot more.

4. Background and prior experience of the team –

Often you will meet a testing lab with a team only having experience working in the same or other testing labs. You need a partner that understands your industry requirements, look for a lab with team members having experience working in your industry. This will make it easy for you to communicate your requirements and get the desired output because they will understand what you need and your language.

5. Participation in proficiency testing programs –

Any testing lab you approach will surely try to convince you about the quality of their testing and results, but don’t blindly take their word for it. All accredited testing labs are required to regularly participate in proficiency test programs where a number of labs (often hundreds from around the world) test the same sample material and report the results. A laboratory that is producing quality results will report results close to the average of all the labs thus proving that their results are correct and will match those generated by any other lab – even those of your regulators – if the sample is retested.

6. Team size and experience –

We are all in a hurry, all of our clients want their products to be delivered yesterday. Make sure the testing lab you chose has a big enough team to test your products on time. A good team also promises business continuity, even if a few people leave, there will still be someone else to continue your work. As for experience, it doesn’t need an explanation, experience and expertise go hand in hand to ensure quality.

7. Infrastructure and capacities –

A key ingredient to timely and quality results is to have the right equipment and in sufficient numbers. Make sure the testing lab you chose has the equipment needed to test your products and have enough of them to give timely results and ensure business continuity in case of instrument breakdowns that will happen.

8. Are they investing in new sophisticated instruments –

If you are a growing and successful business you need to have a progressive partner. A testing lab that is not upgrading its infrastructure by investing in new equipment will eventually not be able to keep up with the needs of your growing business. If a testing lab has been investing in new sophisticated instruments over the years to keep up with the chaining market needs you can be pretty sure you won’t have to go looking for a new lab the very next time the market and regulatory requirements change.

9. Are they hiring new staff –

This again is an indirect indicator, if a testing lab is hiring it means they are growing which in turn means more people are working with them. If more and more people are working with a lab they must be doing something right. This also gives you the confidence that they will recruit new team members to meet the requirements of your growing business and you won’t have to find another lab to meet your increased requirements as your business grows.

10. What is the contribution of repeat business to their total business –

Repeat business means satisfied customers and that is what you want to be a “satisfied customer” so if a testing lab has a big percentage contribution of repeat business to their total revenue you are on the right track.
These are the top 10 in our opinion, you are welcome to suggest more by leaving a comment below or by contacting us.
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