ISO standards are recognised and implemented worldwide: global systems that seek to improve business practices and organisational workings. ISO quality standards are developed in order to provide businesses and organisations with a framework that keep industries running efficiently. ISO certification is evidence that a company complies with certain requirements, and is evaluated by a third-party institution, such as DQS.
ISO standards are developed by the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) which is an independent, non-governmental membership institution. The ISO was established in 1947 and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
The process to develop a new standard can be divided into six stages, not all of which are compulsory.
These stages are:
Phase 1: Proposal
Phase 2: Preparation
Phase 3: Committee
Phase 4: Enquiry
Phase 5: Approval
Phase 6: Publication
Developing a standard is a collective effort, with many people forming part of the development process. The development of a new standard is generally initiated by a request from a stakeholder of an industry sector, once they have identified that there is a need for a new international standard.
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A technical committee will facilitate the development of the standard. This committee will include experts from the relevant industry, representatives from consumer associations, academia, NGOs and the government. The technical committee will consider the request before undertaking to develop it, investigating whether the standard will respond to an international need and whether it will be suitable for broad implementation on a global level.
Once the committee has agreed to develop the standard, it moves on to create a working draft (WD), which is shared with ISO members who can then comment and vote on the proposal. Once the experts are satisfied with the working draft, it is sent on to the WD parent committee, who decides whether the draft will move onto the committee stage (an optional stage) or enquiry stage. Once onto the enquiry stage, the draft is submitted for approval, circulated to all ISO members. Members have 12 weeks to vote and comment on the draft.
Formal approval requires that two-thirds of the ISO members that participated in the development process and 75% of all voting members sanction the proposal. If there is a consensus, the draft becomes an ISO standard, if not, it is returned to the technical committee for further assessment and editing. Approved text is directly published as an ISO international standard, however, if technical changes are necessary, the draft undergoes a further approval stage before publishing.
The process is thorough and time consuming, ensuring that the standards enacted reflect industry realities and achievable benchmarks.
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