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Tips for Preparing for ISO 17025 Accreditation Assessment

03/11/15

ISO 17025 accreditation demonstrates that your lab adheres to international protocols for instrument calibration, data gathering, and material quality. ISO 17025 accreditation has become increasingly important for labs of all kinds, but receiving your accreditation isn't easy. Here are four tips for preparing for the accreditation process—and passing with flying colors:

  1. Determine the capabilities for which you're seeking accreditation. Many labs have a variety of capabilities and work across different types of research, testing, and materials production. The ISO 17025 standard can apply for calibration and data in all of these areas, but the specific criteria can vary widely from one capability to another. Your lab may seek accreditation for all of your capabilities or only a specific area of operation. Leadership should assess which areas will benefit from accreditation in advance, as the specific accreditation being sought will greatly influence the time, work, and types of protocols needed.
  2. Talk with senior lab staff. One of the most valuable things your operation can do to prep for your ISO 17025 assessment is to involve lab staff in the planning and discussion. Lab staff members offer two levels of valuable insight into accreditation preparation: they understand better than anyone why calibration standards and quality data matter in the operation, and they often have a much closer perspective on current practices and protocols and how they could be improved. Invite senior lab staff members to the discussion and actively seek out their advice on how to get ready before applying.
  3. Review protocols and procedures internally. When you apply for ISO 17025 accreditation, the accreditation body is going to review in detail all of your procedure documentation. Conducting your own review of procedures before applying is the equivalent of studying for a test: It means you come into the process informed, prepared, and ready for whatever the accreditation committee brings up.
  4. Seek examples of quality manuals in your field. In preparing your documentation, it can be helpful to look at examples of how other labs with similar capabilities have assembled their procedures. Your accreditation body may be able to provide you with examples or lab staff may have firsthand experience preparing previous quality manuals.
  5. Plan to make corrective changes. Few labs make it through the accreditation process without a hitch. After your initial documentation is reviewed, expect to be asked to take corrective action. Consider this an opportunity to meet the assessors' expectations and make the changes exactly as indicated. This greatly increases your chances of receiving accreditation.

What areas or capabilities is your lab seeking ISO 17025 accreditation for?