Is Your Testing Laboratory Ready for ISO 17025 Accreditation?
If you offer lab testing or calibration services, the short answer is probably yes, you should get ISO 17025 accreditation.
The one exception to the rule is an in-house laboratory but, even then, you may be missing out. The ISO 17025 is a powerful framework for successfully managing lab operations.
What If Your Lab Is Already Accredited? Is It Time To Move Up To ISO 17025:2017?
What if your lab is already ISO 17025 accredited, or if it's been previously certified as ISO 9001 compliant?
The first thing to know is that the ISO 17025 standard was upgraded in 2017.
Laboratories that were accredited to the earlier standard (e.g. ISO 17025:2005) have been given three years to "upgrade." If this applies to you, the clock is running out — you have until 2020 to get re-accredited.
Second, if your lab has also been certified to the most recent 2015 edition of ISO 9001, this could come in handy during the ISO 17025:2017 accreditation process.
There are a couple other important changes in the 2017 version of ISO 17025 to note. Earlier versions of the standard were written before the widespread adoption of computerized record-keeping so references to paper documents, reports, etc. have been removed.
But what is the end goal? The answer is the Scope Document, more formally known as the Scope of Accreditation.
This critical document tells the world which specific, accredited lab testing or calibration services you offer, the methods you use to calibrate or test, and the measurement uncertainty customers can expect.
This is what you will use to "market" your laboratory to potential clients and to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Now work backward. What are all the things you need to make that a reality?
Finally, some frank advice: Don't jump to hiring a consultant to step you through the process just yet. First, educate yourself on what's needed. Be comfortable in your own knowledge before hiring a consultant and certainly before engaging an accreditation body to start the evaluation of your lab.
Once you've decided you're ready for the assessment process, you'll want it to go smoothly and quickly.
First impressions are critical. As the saying goes, you don't get a second chance to make a first impression.
Be organized. Think about what the auditor(s) will want to review before they come to visit your lab.