It’s inevitable: whenever you start looking for a test lab partner, the cheapest bid appears attractive. In terms of pure cost-savings, why pay more for something when you can get it done for less?
But that’s not the right question—it should be, rather, “What complications will emerge by going with the cheapest option?”
The answer is nearly impossible to gauge from an email. Product standard specialists, superior quality, and streamline processes are critical factors in choosing a lab partner. Industry experts should trump costs alone, because pure cost-savings means nothing if the project drags on past deadlines, or if the lab is inexperienced or unfamiliar with your product standard.
Test labs offering added value may cost a little extra, but the experience will pay for itself in less stress, greater time management, and the security of having knowledgeable industry leaders handling your products.
Getting a Leg-Up on Legwork
A great test lab will invest time and resources in the initial preliminary planning phase, whereby the lab walks customers through specific hardware and software requirements, detailing exactly what’s expected from both parties before even starting the billing process.
On the Same Page, Remotely
Our Testing Solutions
ACS has numerous testing services available to assist you.
Transparency and communication are crucial to any relationship—including with your test lab. Does your lab offer remote debugging services, enabling you to trouble shoot in real-time via in-lab cameras, allowing for immediate mitigation, thus reducing downtime? Or do they simply thank you for your business and request a follow-up once you have integrated a solution?
In addition to troubleshooting remotely via live cameras, a test laboratory should permit remote access to a secure laptop, in order to facilitate software debugging and live training. This capability prevents travel expenditures and downtime, cutting down software mitigation time from whole days to just a few hours.
Many larger, “big-box” test labs boast an extensive scope-of-accreditation, thus precluding them from becoming industry experts. If a test laboratory is rolling out an arc welder or snowmobile in order to accommodate your router or zigbee module, it’s unlikely they focus on specific product standards.
When it comes to intimate partnerships, especially long-term ones, it helps to employ someone who understands your products —someone who has spent time as a compliance engineer at a manufacturer with related products. That way, you’re working with someone who understands your problems and has walked a mile in your shoes.
Another quality to look for: do any of the lab’s employees sit on relevant councils? If so, that company benefits from that person’s experience—the fact that they’ve literally helped write the book on product testing—by having a heads-up on industry news coming down the pipeline.
The Customer Comes First
In the end, it all boils down to how customer-centric your chosen test lab is. The largest benefit, irrelevant to cost, is mutual trust. Test labs should make themselves available to their clients as often as possible, especially considering the quick-response nature of testing.
Without this cornerstone, it doesn’t matter how much you pay—you’ll probably be heading for a break-up sooner or later.