Combating compliance

July 22, 2015 // By Peter Inwood
Combating compliance
Battling through the global maze of certification markings and compliance regulation is increasingly leaving many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) without a clear idea of direction. The growing cost of achieving market access across varied geographies is spurring many businesses to pursue a unified compliance strategy to gain that all important competitive advantage.

Firstly, the definitions. In their 2012 Handbook of Research on Service-Oriented Systems and Non-Functional Properties: Future Directions, the authors, a mixture of academics, analysts and accountants, explain that, "Compliance generally refers to the conformance to a set of laws, regulations, policies, best practices, or service-level agreements."

"Compliance governance refers to the set of procedures, methodologies, and technologies put in place by a corporation to carry out, monitor, and manage compliance. Compliance governance is an important, expensive, and complex problem to deal with."

So what does it really mean? In my experience, there are two ways of looking at compliance. The negative view is that it's a necessary evil, an expensive and bureaucratic barrier to getting things done and running an operationally efficient business.

There is another view though. For example, visiting the hospital is already an unpleasant experience for many, so what would you think if you were told that the ventilator that's supporting your breathing had achieved a faster time-to-market because it didn't have to go through numerous legislative checklists? All of a sudden, correctly implemented compliance moves to the forefront of product development and becomes a much more attractive prospect.

This second, and much more sustainable, way of looking at compliance portrays it as an opportunity, a chance to innovate and offer better products while breaking down the barriers-to-entry into new, previously unexplored markets.

The compliance process

During the battery and charger development process that we undertake at Accutronics, we take the design specification of a new product and begin to ask questions like, what is the purpose of the end-user product? What does it do? What is it capable of doing? This helps us to build a picture of the performance claims we're making.

Once we have completed the specification and developed the product, we start the process of internal verification to prove these claims. This begins the process of laboratory testing. Because we have our own in-house testing facilities, we undertake the pre-certification testing to gather our own documented evidence. Some small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) often lack the resources to staff and equip an in-house test (pre-certification) facility. We find that ours enables us to react quickly to changes and improvements, often within a few hours. Ultimately, this generates a cost effective competitive advantage, allowing us and our customers to punch above our weight against much larger businesses.

Once internal testing and verification is complete, the next stage is to send the battery or charger along with the relevant samples and supporting evidence, to be market certified by an industry regulated test laboratory. All of our off-the-shelf Entellion range is sent to be certified as a matter of course and for our custom solutions, we offer to project manage this certification process on behalf of our customers.

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