Smart companies are continuously working on ways to improve their ROI and increase the return on their investments. One often overlooked way of doing this is with your testing and certification projects, viewed as a necessary evil by most companies. If not managed properly, it can be costly at best – a nightmare at worst.
You can improve the ROI on your product testing and certification projects. Below are five tips to help you get started.
1. Time Management
Get to the root of hidden testing and certification costs. Companies often focus on visible costs such as product testing and certification fees quoted by the laboratories, missing a thorough evaluation of hidden sources of extra costs and revenues. It’s easy to overlook the effort your internal staff undertakes to coordinate product testing projects. Internal experts are most likely on salary so their costs are already accounted for, but imagine if that time were being paid to a consultant, partner or customer, what would the value of those man-hours be?
If your compliance department is not organized, employees can spend many hours a week going back and forth with your testing partner organizing paperwork, arranging sample delivery and requesting updates on project status, that equals an a lot of extra time spent on testing and certification. Translate that time into dollars and it starts to add up.
2. Design for Compliance
Understanding regulatory requirements for a new product in your target markets is essential for your product development team. This enables them to obtain appropriate Standards for those markets and design the product with these requirements in mind.
Many manufacturers find it beneficial to have a design review conducted by their testing or certification partner, highlighting any design issues early. If necessary, the product can then be modified or re-worked before it ever reaches the testing laboratory. The certification partner can not only review the product, but they can also be used as a source of reference for interpreting Standards.
3. Choose the right partner
No amount of preparation or good design will overcome having the wrong testing partner involved in a project. Choosing a provider purely based on cost for example, can be the wrong decision. There are many factors that should go into choosing a partner, their location, how fast they can get your product into the test queue, the testing laboratories accreditation’s, equipment, knowledge of the staff, and customer service are all factors to consider when choosing a testing partner.
Just because a manufacturer has always worked with one lab doesn’t mean they are necessarily the right lab. Consider reviewing the chosen laboratory every year to check that they have the right package of services to meet your evolving business needs.
4. Be Ready (forms, samples, spares, etc)
Your testing and certification partner will require one or more product samples (depending on the product), access to the component and materials list, as well as circuit diagrams and drawings in order to proceed with testing and certification.
Surprisingly, a large number of testing projects get delayed because the testing laboratory hasn’t received the samples or paperwork needed to move a project forward. If a manufacturer has all of the relevant documentation ready, frustrating and costly delays can be avoided.
5. Don’t judge a book by its cover
Not all testing laboratories are created equal from a business perspective, but they ARE created equal when it comes to the “law”. The “law” represents the governing bodies that regulate the Standards products are tested to, specifically the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). When a testing laboratory has be designated a “Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory” by OSHA, they have met rigorous regulatory requirements and are approved to provide product safety testing and certification.
Manufactures throw away thousands of dollars every year in misused product development money, lost revenue from delayed product launches, unnecessary product testing delays, non-compliance issues and even over payment of testing fees. Why would any company risk having those costs come out of their revenue or even worse pass them off to their customers? I have no idea, but it happens every day.
There are many people out there costing the organizations they work for thousands of dollars and headaches every year because they are living in the past, and not up to date on the present state of the product testing and compliance industry. They don’t understand all their options and assume only one or two testing laboratories are acceptable to use for their compliance needs. This limited perspective is preventing their organizations from evaluating options and choosing the right partner, costing valuable time and money.
If organizations are willing to throw away all of that money no questions asked, I would suggest putting that money into a little research and find out the facts in your industry. Most of that research has already been done, and in most cases the current facts are:
- Your customers don’t care what safety mark is on your product, they just want to know it’s safe.
- Your product is not going to be rejected by your suppliers because of the safety mark you have on it. (If you are still living in fear, call them up and ask them. If you speak to someone that tells you they will only accept a certain safety mark, talk to someone else. Chances are, your supplier has one of those people I mentioned above living in the past, and they are costing their organization money.)
- Your products will not be stopped at the boarder because of the safety mark you have on it, as long as you have all the correct paper work. (Ok, I know there have been instances where this has happened in certain industries and most of the time it’s resolved with a little education.) Don’t assume this will happen to you. Do your research and find out what your options are before making uneducated assumptions based on the information from any employee living in the past.
Do your due diligence and ask the right questions. Educate yourself and get second opinions. Don’t run your business out of fear, and be open to making the best decisions for your company, your brand and your customers.