MANY ORGANISATIONS from the private and public sector use standards and participate in standards development. A few of them see standardisation as directly linked to their core business strategy. Some approach standardisation in a highly organised way and have a clear perception of the impact of standards on their activities and performance.
Others may use standards from a narrower perspective, for specific processes or activities. Most of them realise that standards bring benefits to their organisation, although the level of awareness and the perception of such benefits vary considerably.
But there are other organisations that make only marginal use of standards or do not use them at all. These companies consider standards a burden, something that cannot be avoided at times, but which is perceived as an additional cost or obligation with a negative impact on the company.
Organisations that don’t even consider participating in standards development are not aware of the potential contribution that standards can bring to their activities.
One of the key aspects of the mission of national standards bodies is to liaise with organisations from all stakeholder groups to engage them in standardisation and to help them get the most from standards. Being able to demonstrate the tangible benefits that standards bring to organisations – and, more generally, to citizens and society – is therefore essential.
This is why the International Standards Organisation (ISO) developed the ISO Methodology, a consistent approach to measuring this value, which has been tested in around 30 company case studies in over 20 countries across the globe.
The ISO Methodology aims to identify and quantify the microeconomic benefits of standards, the economic contribution the use of standards makes to company profits or the costs/revenues of an organisation. All the standards assessed in this approach – whether they are international, regional or national standards, published by standards development organisations, industry groups or other consortia – are the result of an open, consensus-based process and quantify the economic benefits of standards made available to the public.
Such standards are often called “external standards” by standards users. Company “internal” standards are developed by the company itself and are typically not shared with other parties.
People involved in standardisation are convinced that their work generates considerable benefits for organisations, markets and society. Yet substantiating and quantifying the real world value of voluntary standards is not an easy task.
Standards can be used to streamline the internal processes of a company, for example, by reducing the time needed to perform specific activities in the various business functions, decreasing waste, reducing procurement costs and increasing productivity.
Standards have been used as the basis for developing new products, penetrating new markets (both domestic and export), supporting the market uptake of products, and even creating markets.
In exceptional cases, the impact of standards far exceeded recorded figures, with companies achieving a gross profit contribution of up to 33 per cent of their annual revenue, which helped them position themselves as leaders in their field, at least over a certain period of time.