Why is proficiency testing important?

Proficiency testing according to ISO/IEC 17043 is based on interlaboratory comparisons to determine the performance of the participating laboratories under identical boundary conditions. The participating laboratories are given the opportunity to monitor their testing competence and, if necessary, to improve their quality. Based on the results of proficiency testing and the ensuing conclusions, systematic and laboratory-specific sources of error can be identified and appropriate corrective measures can be implemented. The corrections introduced should modify a given laboratory’s procedures in such a way that a significant improvement in performance can be identified when the laboratory repeats the proficiency test.

There are many other secondary objectives of proficiency testing. Not only is the successful participation in ISO/IEC 17043 proficiency testing an extra tool that regulatory authorities and accreditation bodies use in assessments for compliance with ISO/IEC 17025, but also proof of laboratory’s competence for its customers. Proficiency testing can also be used to compare laboratory results obtained using different methods of analysis and can provide useful and reliable information for the evaluation or validation of new test procedures in comparison to established and proven methods.

Proficiency testing and accreditation

Proficiency testing is particularly important with regard to ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation. In this context the auditors evaluate the quality management system, the availability and good working order of the technical equipment, as well as the professional expertise of laboratory personnel.  Within the framework of an audit the successful participation in proficiency tests provides proof of the correct interplay of these various factors.

Proficiency testing is an extremely effective method to assess the performance of the technical equipment and the professional competence of the personnel involved. Therefore, participation in proficiency testing is recommended for accredited laboratories and applicants for first-time ISO/IEC 17025 accreditations, and, insofar as it appears appropriate, it can also be deemed obligatory for testing laboratories. If the results of proficiency testing are deemed unsatisfactory, the issuance or renewal of the accreditation certificate can be called into question. It has to be noted, however, that the granting of or the refusal to grant an accreditation is not based solely on the results of proficiency testing. Participation in proficiency testing should, however, constitute an integral part of a laboratory’s accreditation-monitoring measures.

How do I participate?

We provide you with a clear, quick and absolutely confidential execution of proficiency tests in an international context. All administrative steps necessary are performed online.

All reports and certificates of past proficiency tests can be accessed through your user account. They can be accessed anytime, for example if you need to present them during the course of an audit.

Registration and application for a proficiency test
  • The quick and uncomplicated registration procedure is carried out online.
  • The participant choses the proficiency test in which he/she wishes to participate and places it in the shopping cart.
  • Value added tax (7.7 %, only applicable to customers in Switzerland) as well as shipping costs will be charged in addition to the costs for participation. There are no other added costs (for customs or other fees).
  • Under the step “To checkout”, the payment method is selected. The payment methods available are bank transfer (prepayment) and credit card (VISA or Mastercard).
  • Payment is possible in the following currencies: Swiss Francs (CHF), Euro (EUR) and United States dollars (USD).
  • Upon completion of the application (placement of the order), the participant receives a confirmation by e-mail.
Sample delivery and test execution
  • The samples for all the participants are dispatched at the same time at a date announced to all in advance. Every participant receives an e-mail with the notification that the samples have been dispatched.
  • Upon receipt of the package the participants check the contents for completeness and damage which might have been incurred during transport. And discrepancies or damage must be reported without delay to Swiss Proficiency.
  • The tests / measurements are performed by the participants according to the instructions in the accompanying letter.
Transmission of results
  • The test results generated and any other additional details required (e.g. the method applied and the associated measurement uncertainty) are submitted online by the participants via their personal user account.
Data analysis, reporting and certificate issue
  • After passing of the completion deadline the submitted measurement results are analyzed according to scientific requirements and standard ISO/IEC 17043 by our institute and summarized in a detailed report.
  • Each participant is given a unique laboratory code number which permits all the results to be presented in an anonymous fashion. Maintaining confidentiality is one of our highest priorities.
  • Each participant receives a notification that the report and the internationally-recognized certificate are available via the user account.
  • One’s own results in the report can be recognized by means of the personal laboratory code which was generated during the initial registration process.
  • Upon conclusion of the proficiency test each participant is sent an original of the internationally-recognized certificate by mail.
The advantages of this procedure: Simple and quick and instant access to one's own data

 

  • Easy online submission of measure results. Everything traceable and transparent.
  • Each and every participant can access his/her user account easily and at any time to access past proficiency tests and review and download the associated reports and certificates. All documents are available indefinitely!
  • It is clear that all results are reported and presented in an anonymous fashion by means of the laboratory codes. Only one’s own data can be recognized in the final report.

 

Swiss Proficiency: We keep your business safe.