The International Organization for Standardization, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, has published standards since 1947. This organization found its call and mission after World War II when the need to align the interfaces of technologies from different countries surface. ISO offered to harmonize standards from different countries and to build a framework within which countries could be assured interoperability. ISO presented a platform where each country could hold one seat among the technical committees charged with defining the guidelines.
An ISO certificate demonstrates that a company endorses and complies with international standards issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The certificate creates new pathways for business partnerships with other ISO certified companies. It also ensures that the organization remains on the forefront of interoperability within its industry.
Since its inception, ISO phas ished 18,000 standards through the participation of 160 countries. These nations gather 98 percent of the world economy and represent 97 percent of the world population touched by these standards. Developing countries received invitations from ISO to join the ranks and express their preferences on standards. This non-governmental organization develops guidelines upon request by industries and offers them as references, not laws. It relies on governments to elect whether these standards become national requirements.
Well Known ISO standards
ISO 9001, a quality management set of standards, has become one of the most adopted set of guidelines and ISO 9001 certification frequently becomes a prerequisite to business partnerships. With modern emphasis on environmental protection, ISO 14001 has emerged as popular set of principles that standardizes corporate practices for the safeguard of the environment. ISO 13485 provides a framework for the medical industry and aims at protecting the safety of the patient.
Technology development progresses rapidly and keeping track of what is happening at the global level to ensure interoperability can become difficult. ISO standards act as a universal source of requirements that harmonize interfaces between platforms that operate together. For instance, ISO 14443 describes the physical, structural, and protocol requirements for the contactless smart card technologies.
Code of Conduct
ISO certification requires periodic audits of a company's facilities to monitor compliance with ISO standards. Management reviews outcomes from the examinations and implements corrective actions to maintain alignment with the standards. ISO 9001:2008, for instance, promotes attitudes and processes that keep the aim on achieving customer satisfaction and error free services or products, values of interest for upper management.
A Network of Partners
ISO promotes complete management of standards from the suppliers to the distributors. Hence, a company that has received an ISO certification will request its business partners to adhere to ISO standards. Fore example, ISO 22000 defines rules to ensure food safety and covers all the organizations involved in the food chain and demands compliance to its standards from the supply of the raw food to when the goods are distributed to the consumer.
- International Organization for Standardization: Discover ISO
- International Organization for Standardization: 2005-2010 Strategic Plan (.PDF)
- International Organization for Standardization: 2008 Annual Report (.PDF)
- International Organization for Standardization: Founding (.PDF)
- Palgrave Macmillan: The Impact of ISO 9000 Diffusion on Trade...; J. A Clougherty; Feb. 14, 2008
- Photo Credit raising thumb up image by Stepanov from Fotolia.com
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