A standard is an agreed way of doing something. It could be about making a product, managing a process, delivering a service or supplying materials. Standards cover a huge range of activities undertaken by organizations and used by their customers.

Standards are the distilled knowledge of people with expertise in their subject matter and who know the needs of the organizations they represent – people such as manufacturers, sellers, buyers, customers, trade associations, users or regulators.

Standards are knowledge. They are powerful tools that can help drive innovation and increase productivity. They can make organizations more successful and people’s everyday lives easier, safer and healthier.

Standards cover a wide range of subjects from construction to nanotechnology, from energy management to health and safety, from cricket balls to goalposts. They can be very specific, such as to a particular type of product, or general such as management practices.

The point of a standard is to provide a reliable basis for people to share the same expectations about a product or service. This helps to: facilitate trade, provide a framework for achieving economies, efficiencies and interoperability and enhance consumer protection and confidence. (Bsigroup.com, 2016)

Type of standards organizations:

International standards organizations

Regional standards organizations

National standards organizations


Standards development process

Every standards organisation’s development process might be slightly different from one to another, according to ISO one of the biggest standards organisations here are the key principles.

  1. Respond to a need in the market

ISO does not decide when to develop a new standard, but responds to a request from industry or other stakeholders such as consumer groups. Typically, an industry sector or group communicates the need for a standard to its national member who then contacts ISO.

  1. Standards are based on global expert opinion

ISO standards are developed by groups of experts from all over the world, that are part of larger groups called technical committees. These experts negotiate all aspects of the standard, including its scope, key definitions and content.

  1. Standards are developed through a multi-stakeholder process

The technical committees are made up of experts from the relevant industry, but also from consumer associations, academia, NGOs and government. Developing standards is a consensus-based approach and comments from all stakeholders are taken into account.

Developing standards costs, a lot of money, time, and resources, virtually all standards are distributed on a commercial basis rather than being provided for free, but that’s not true in every case.

Some standards are managed by non-profit organizations involving both public and private sectors working together to publish the standards under an open license at no charge and requiring no registration.

Businesses and organization might use these standards:

Quality management standard to help them work more efficiently and reduce product failures

Environmental management standard to help reduce environmental impacts, reduce waste and be more sustainable

Health and safety standard to help reduce accidents in the workplace

IT security standard to help keep sensitive information secure

Using standards can offer a set of powerful business and marketing tools for organizations of all sizes. You can use them to fine-tune your performance and manage the risks you face while operating in more efficient and sustainable ways; they’ll allow you to demonstrate the quality of what you do to your customers; and they help you to see how to embed best practice into your organization.(Bsigroup.com, 2016)

Bsigroup.com. (2016). Standards, Training, Testing, Assessment and Certification | BSI Group. [online] Available at: http://www.bsigroup.com/en-GB/.