Demystifying International Standards: What Are They and Why Do They Matter?

In our interconnected world, where products, services, and information cross borders, it’s crucial to have a common language for quality, safety and other aspects. International standards provide just that. These standards serve as the building blocks of global trade and cooperation, facilitating everything from the manufacturing of products to the delivery of services and the exchange of information. 

But what exactly are international standards, and why do they matter? Let’s explore this essential aspect of our modern globalised society.

International Standards

What Are International Standards?

International standards are documented guidelines, specifications, or requirements that ensure consistency and quality across various industries, processes, and technologies. These standards are established through a collaborative effort involving national standards bodies (NSB), governments, businesses, industry experts and other stakeholders from around the world. The goal is to create a unified framework that promotes efficiency, safety, and quality in a wide range of fields.

These standards can cover almost anything, including but not limited to:

Product Specifications

They outline the characteristics, performance criteria, and testing methods for products, ensuring uniform quality and safety. Examples include standards on electrical plugs, door locks, toughened glass, car air bags, bank cards and more.

Management Systems

They outline a governance framework for managing particular aspects of a business.  Examples include ISO 9001 for Quality management, ISO 14001 for Environmental management, ISO 45001 for Occupational Health and Safety and ISO 27001 for Information Security.

Process Guidelines

They define best practices and processes for industries like manufacturing, healthcare, or information technology. Examples include ISO 13485 for medical devices, ISO 20252 for Market Research services and ISO 17100 for translation services.

Technical Standards

These are critical for compatibility and interoperability in technology and communication sectors. Examples include USB and HDMI standards in the field of electronics.

Service Standards

They provide a framework for service providers to deliver high-quality services consistently. Examples include ISO 20000 for IT service management and ISO 22000 for food safety management.

Data and Information Standards

In an era of digital information, these standards help ensure data consistency, integrity, and security. Examples include ISO 19650 for managing information of build assets.

Why Do International Standards Matter?

International standards are the unsung heroes of our globalised world, and their importance cannot be overstated.

Here’s why they matter:

Facilitating Global Trade

International standards streamline trade by ensuring that products and services meet common criteria, eliminating trade barriers, and reducing the need for extensive testing and certification when goods cross borders.

Quality Assurance

These standards establish best practices and quality benchmarks, improving the overall quality of products and services. This benefits both consumers, who can trust that they’re getting a safe and reliable product, and businesses, which can reduce the risk of recalls and litigation.

Safety and Environmental Protection

Standards play a vital role in safeguarding public health, safety, and the environment. For instance, safety standards for medical devices or environmental management standards help reduce risks and ensure responsible resource use.

Innovation and Technological Advancement

Standards can drive innovation by providing a common framework for the development of new technologies. They facilitate the compatibility of new products with existing systems, fostering technological progress.

Efficiency and Cost Reduction

They help streamline processes and reduce inefficiencies, ultimately saving time and resources. Companies that adhere to international standards often report reduced waste, improved productivity, and cost savings.

Global Cooperation

International standards promote collaboration and understanding among countries, businesses, and industries. They create a shared language for best practices and contribute to global harmonisation.

Consumer Confidence

When consumers see that a product or service complies with international standards, they gain confidence in its quality and safety. This trust is essential for building brand reputation and customer loyalty.

Start Your Career in Standards!

A career in international standards is a great choice for those seeking a profession that combines global impact, diverse opportunities, intellectual challenge, and job security.

Next Steps >>>

  • Read more about a Career in Standards
  • Browse Job Roles in Standards, 
  • Hear from People Already working in Standards,
  • Browse Example Career Paths in Standards,
  • Start your Career in Standards.

Contact Us Today!