It's the same deal with certifications -- you have to be aware of standards, and take them into consideration so you will be creating a product that complies with them, from the very beginning of a product's life cycle. For example, safety, EMC and performance requirements might have a significant impact or influence on your product design.
You also don't want to wait until the product prototype or sample is ready for testing to line up certification and testing partners, or to learn what documents you need to have been accumulating.
"What's expensive is failing to sit down with a compliance expert at the start of the design phase," adds Jason Chesley, Strategic Account Manager at CSA International, a global firm that does product safety and performance testing."
"Don't wait until the tail end," stresses, Ken DeVore, Director, F-Squared Laboratories, a full service product conformity assessment organization. "Or it will cost more."
"Have a good mechanical engineer, a good electrical design engineer, and a good compliance engineer, who can help incorporate the various design techniques that will yield a robust design that will stand up against the stringent requirements of the applicable standards," advises Francisco Lazcon, Western Region Sales Manager, MET Laboratories, Inc., an independent electrical testing and certification lab.
The time and costs for obtaining certifications for a product like a desktop or notebook computer -- which includes creating or obtaining paperwork, having tests performed and getting the result reports -- may range anywhere from $25,000 to $150,00 and up, and add a few weeks to a few months to the product development cycle.
The first time around, expect it to cost more and take longer; with experience (and more of the process in gear), it should get better.
And don't despair: As the steady stream of new products should make clear, compliance and certification hurdles are hurdle-able. The processes recognize vendors' needs to bring new products to market in a timely fashion against often narrow windows.
But again: don't dawdle.