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ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization. It is said that ISO is a word derived from Greek isos, which means ‘equal’, thus giving this organization a perfect name.18


History & Origin of ISO

Back in 1946, 65 delegates from 25 countries met in London to discuss the future of International Standardization. This, in 1947, gave birth to ISO with 67 technical committees with experts focusing on specific subjects. Today, ISO has a full time staff of 150 people working at their Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland and members from 164 countries. In this period, ISO has published 19,500 International Standards covering nearly all aspects of technology and business.19


Standards, Standard Development & Importance

A standard is a document providing specifications, requirements, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently anywhere and everywhere. This ensures that different products, materials, processes and services available round the world are fit for their purpose. To develop such standards, the first step is to identify the need for a standard. Once established, experts meet up to develop opinion and negotiate a draft standard. It is then shared with ISO members for feedback and a consensus is reached. The draft is then modified according to needs and the standard is finalized. These standards are developed by a groups of experts within a technical committee.19


As can be imagined, ISO standards are very beneficial not only to the society, but also to businesses and even governments. For a business, savings, better customer satisfaction, access to new markets, increased market share and minimization of negative impacts on the environment are some of the important benefits of implementation ISO standards. As far as society is concerned, ISO involves consumers in standard development through COPOLCO (Committee on Consumer Policy). This ensures that consumers have confidence in the use of services and products in regards to their safety, quality, and reliability. ISO also ensures health of citizens and preserving the environment through International Standards on air, water, and soil quality, on emissions of gases and radiation and environmental aspects of products. For governments, ISO standards provide them with experts’ opinions without having to call on their services directly and by integrating ISO standards into national regulations, governments ensure the movement of goods, services and technologies from country to country.19


Video 3: Benefits of ISO Standards


Video 4: Happy World Standards Day






ISO 9000

Quality Management

To ensure that the products and services meet customers’ requirements and quality is consistently improved

ISO 14000

Environmental Management

To control the organization’s environmental impact and improve their environmental performance

ISO 3166

Country Codes

To establish internationally recognized codes to avoid confusion when referring to countries and their subdivisions

ISO 22000

Food Safety Management

To identify and control food safety hazards and ensure safety of the global food supply chain

ISO 26000

Social Responsibility

To guide organizations operate in a socially responsible way, contributing to the health and welfare of the society

ISO 50001

Energy Management

To make the organization more energy efficient and environment-friendly

ISO 31000

Risk Management

To manage risks that could be negative for the company’s performance

ISO 4217

Currency Codes

To establish internationally recognized codes to avoid confusion when referring to world currencies

ISO 639

Language Codes

To establish internationally recognized codes for representation of languages or language families

ISO 20121

Sustainable Events

To manage the social, economic and environmental impacts of the event

ISO 27001

Information Security

To ensure the organization’s information is secure


Table 2: Some Popular ISO Standards


ISO 9001

The ISO 9000 family has one of the best known standards and concerns varied aspects of quality management. These standards are used as guidelines and tools by companies and organizations to consistently meet customers’ expectations through improved quality of products and services. Some of the members of ISO 9000 family are ISO 9001:2008 (sets out requirements of a quality management system), ISO 9000:2005 (covers the basic concepts and language), ISO 9004:2009 (focuses on how to make a quality management system more efficient and effective), and ISO 19011:2011 (sets out guidance on internal and external audits of quality management systems).


Of these, ISO 9001 is widely recognized and its versatile design makes it useful for virtually any product or service made by any process anywhere in the world. ISO 9001:2008 is the only member of the family that can be certified regardless of the field of activity or the size of the company or organization. Over a million companies and organization around the world have already implemented ISO 9001:2008. The principles involved with this standard include motivation and implication of the top management, strong customer focus, the process approach and continual improvement. Internal audits to check the quality management system or external audits by independent certification body to verify the conformity to the standard is an integral part of this standard.19, 20