The Business Standards Encyclopedia

What Are Standards?

Standards have existed for thousands of years. For example, the first long distance roads in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions. The ruts created by the Roman chariots were then used by all other wagons and later became a gauge for laying the first railway lines.

A Standard is an agreed way of doing something. It can be recorded and published formally, or may simply be a company's informal unwritten procedure.

Formal Standards, such as British, European or international Standards vary according to what they provide. For example, they may specify requirements for the features or characteristics of a product, such as the components for solar heating equipment, or recommend the best way of doing something, such as the service supplied by furniture removal companies, or for a system such as a company's system for managing information security.

Who Creates Standards?

Formal Standards are created following discussions with a variety of interested organizations and groups.

A country's National Standards Body (NSB) is usually its biggest producer of formal Standards. The NSB brings together representatives from relevant sections of business, government and society in technical committees that develop the Standards. BSI British Standards is the national Standards body in the UK. It produces British Standards and ensures the representation of UK interests in European and international forums. Other NSBs include AFNOR in France, DIN in Germany and ANSI in the US.

CEN (European Committee for Standardization) members are the national Standards bodies of countries in the European Union, including BSI. CEN promotes voluntary technical harmonization to reduce trade barriers in Europe and worldwide. All European Standards are adopted by the EU countries. In the UK, they are adopted as British Standards (BS EN). An example of this is the toys Standard BS EN 71, which relates to the EU Directive for the trade of new toys in Europe.

ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is the world's largest developer of Standards. Its membership comprises the National Standards Bodies of countries around the world. BSI is a leading member of ISO and represents the UK's interest in the development of international standards. BSI also decides which international Standards to adopt as British Standards (BS ISO).

The Major Publishers
International Standards Organization.

ISO is a global federation of over 150 national standards bodies, with headquarters in Switzerland. Through consensus it publishes standards for business, governments and consumers.

British Standards Institute

The oldest standards body in the world is still one of the biggest publishers in the world, offering over 27,000 publications and providing a range of support services.

American National Standards Institute

ANSI was founded in 1918 and coordinates the development and use of voluntary consensus standards in the United States.

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