Why do we need ISO Standards?
Standards are consistent, repeatable, approved, and documented ways of doing things. They include technical specifications and defined criteria intended to be used regularly as a rule, recommendation, or prescription. Standards help simplify everyday life and improve the consistency and effectiveness of many of the products and services we use.
ISO standards are consensus-based, market relevant, internationally agreed upon standards published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), an independent, non-governmental international organisation, composed of experts from national standards bodies in 167 different countries working together to improve and redefine the way things are done. ISO standards are published in the form of documents epitomising the essence of best practice from industry experts across all member countries.
They are adopted by not only organisations, but also by regulators and governments seeking to institute standardisation in an effort to raise the bar within a particular industry across their nation.
Why are ISO Standards so important?
ISO standards are important because they help maintain consistency and quality across industries and throughout the world. It is thanks to ISO standards that products from across the globe are compatible and fit and work well with each other. ISO’s international standards impact everybody. From little children and their toys, in making sure they conform to safety standards and don’t pose any danger to them, to enabling full-grown adults to use their bank card anywhere in the world when travelling internationally.
Because of the effective solutions, technological savoir-faire, and superior management best practices they offer, ISO standards are adopted by companies all over the world. Not only do they help identify safety issues in products and services, but they also offer specifications to ensure they function the way you expect them to. Most people do not realise how pervasive ISO standards are. They are literally used everywhere. Below are some examples of everyday life things you would never guess are governed by ISO’s international standards:
- Paper dimensions
The A4 paper size, which is probably the most widely used paper size throughout the world is one of the three sizes defined by the ISO 216 international standard for paper sizes in their series trilogy (A, B, and C). The A4 series has been conveniently adopted by printer and copy machine makers because it is easier for them to make their products compatible with one standard format rather than having to design them around a multitude of formats.
- Food safety
Out of the 21,000+ ISO standards in existence, over 1,600 are food safety related. To ensure the food we eat is safe for consumption, ISO has developed standards to address the many issues relative to food safety, including nutritional labelling, hygiene, traceability and so much more. ISO food standards give consumers, restauranteurs as well as food producers the confidence of knowing that the food consumed, served and sold meets the world’s highest standards for safety and quality.
- Currency codes
There are almost over 300 different currencies throughout the world used nationally and internationally to conduct business. In 1978, ISO 4217 was established to help us keep up track of them using three-letter alphabetic codes, each representing one of the many currencies used across the world.
Who benefits from ISO Standards?
ISO standards are what makes globalisation possible on a larger scale. In the past, every country had their own standards. Because of this, companies looking to sell their products globally had to spend time and money making sure their products conformed to the target country’s standards. Today, thanks to international standards there are far less barriers to entry for these companies who are now offering products and services that are accepted internationally.
And since no extra costs are incurred, profits remain high which makes companies more inclined to offer their products and services internationally. As a result, entering new markets has never been easier and confidence in foreign product quality, compatibility and safety is at an all-time high.
In a 2015 Geneva standards and policy conference, experts concluded that international standards assist governments and regulators in accomplishing public policy goals through effective dialogue. They help regulators devise and promote integrated solutions that are safer, more cost-effective, and easier to maintain and repair. ISO international standards are a driving force for boosting global trade because of harmonised regulations across countries which strengthen credibility and trust throughout the supply chain and make it easier for countries to outsource and specialise.
ISO’s international standards benefit society by protecting the welfare of consumers through the provision of safer and more reliable products which have been reviewed and thoroughly tested for quality and safety, therefore reducing any risks for any type of hazard. They also provide them with a wider variety of choices at more competitive prices. Standards also benefit society by and large through their concerted action aimed at solving global challenges like climate change and sustainability.