What is a standard?

In essence, a standard is an agreed set of procedures or practices. It could be about making a product, managing a process, delivering a service, or supplying materials – standards can cover a huge range of activities undertaken by organisations and used by their customers.

Standards are the distilled wisdom of people with expertise in their subject matter and who know the needs of the organisations they represent – people such as manufacturers, sellers, buyers, customers, trade associations, users or regulators.

Our portfolio extends to more than 30,000 current standards. They are designed for voluntary use, so it is up to you – you are not forced to follow a set of rules that make life harder for you, you are instead offered ways to do your work better.

Standards are knowledge. They are powerful tools that can help drive innovation and increase productivity. They can make organisations more successful and people's everyday lives easier, safer and healthier.

The kinds of things that standards do

Standards cover a wide range of subjects from construction to nanotechnology, from energy management to health and safety, and from cricket balls to goalposts. They can be very specific, such as to a particular type of products, or general, such as management practices.

The point of a standard is to provide a reliable basis for people to share the same expectations about a product or service. This helps to:

  • facilitate trade
  • provide a framework for achieving economies, efficiencies and interoperability
  • enhance consumer protection and confidence.

Organisations might use: