International standards have helped organizations forge strong commercial partnerships across borders for over 50 years, building trust, transparency and quality. Here, we highlight the standards which can help businesses navigate today’s ever-changing landscape and build resilience in key operational areas.
Successfully navigating global trade remains a challenge for even the most experienced international merchants. The world’s business landscape is constantly evolving and increasingly interconnected. Staying on top of geopolitical, technological and cultural changes is a constant requirement for every business with international interests.
Taking a standards-based approach is the best way to build the corporate resilience and agility necessary for successful overseas trade. What’s more, standards act as a major commercial catalyst, allowing companies to sell their goods and services across multiple markets without the need for adaptation.
According to an independent study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research standards contribute £8.2bn to the UK economy – that’s 28.4% of annual GDP growth – with £6.1bn of additional UK exports per year attributed to their use. As well as supporting domestic and international compliance requirements, standards provide solutions for interoperability, reduce transaction costs and offer a signal of quality to customers. They also support sustainable economic growth, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), for example helping improve market access for exports from developing countries.
So, what are the key standards for organizations already engaged in, or planning to expand, their international trading footprint?
Safeguarding the quality of your operations provides a fundamental basis for consistent international trade. Organizations can use ISO 9001 to benchmark and continually improve quality across all areas. The standard sets out criteria for a tailored quality management system and related improvement processes. It addresses all internal processes and systems – as well as product and service output – and demonstrates an organization’s commitment to excellence.
The use of relevant international standards also provides vital assurances to strengthen supply chain relationships, and promote resilience and confidence, particularly across borders. ISO 22301 outlines requirements for a best-practice business continuity management system (BCMS), providing a comprehensive approach to organizational resilience, while ISO/IEC 27001 offers a framework to keep information assets secure.
Both help to reassure external stakeholders and supply chain partners of the reliable delivery of expected products and services, a significant promise in an age of heightened cybersecurity threat.
To supplement this assurance, businesses could turn to BS 13500, the first British standard for organizational governance. BS 13500 promotes a framework for continual improvement and assessment for management teams, with a strong emphasis on culture and leadership. Meanwhile, BS65000 provides specific guidance on building corporate resilience. It describes the foundations required and explains how to improve an organization’s capacity to anticipate, respond and adapt.
Resilience and organizational credibility can also be built through other important areas, such as health and safety and sustainability. Although they are not always directly linked to business performance, they certainly impact resilience and send a strong message about a company’s social responsibility. ISO 14001 helps corporate teams optimize sustainability and demonstrate a positive environmental commitment, as well as improve reputation and drive cost reductions.
Similarly, proving that health and safety is a board-level issue at your organization, and that you go beyond basic regulatory compliance, demonstrates responsibility and ethical corporate behavior. Certification to ISO 45001 helps you meet the global benchmark for excellence in this area.
Overall, there are a range of standards that can help organizations with global ambitions identify and address the opportunities and risks presented by overseas trading. With a standardsbased approach to global trade, corporate teams can reduce costs, increase efficiency, avoid potential pitfalls and become more agile and innovative.
Certification to recognized international standards instills confidence in the eyes of existing – and prospective – partners, stakeholders and customers across the world, signalling an ongoing commitment to stability and excellence.
- The global business landscape continues to change rapidly, as economies become increasingly interconnected. It’s vital for organizations to stay on top of these changes and demonstrate resilience to successfully navigate this landscape and capitalize on the benefits of trading internationally.
- Standards offer a reliable means by which to build the corporate resilience and agility needed to trade overseas, without the need for product or service adaptations across multiple markets. They also demonstrate a good level of quality and reliability to external stakeholders.
- ISO 9001 enhances international trade by providing a benchmark of quality – and a means for organizations to continually improve across all areas.
- ISO 22301 offers a best-practice business continuity management system, while ISO 27001 offers a framework to keep information assets secure, both helping to reassure external stakeholders and supply chain partners.
- Other useful standards include BS13500, which provides a framework for delivering effective organizational governance, and BS 65000, which offers guidance on building and enhancing internal resilience.
- Resilience and credibility can also be built through other areas, using standards such as ISO 14001, helping teams to enhance the sustainability of their business, and ISO 45001, enabling organizations to provide safe and healthy workplaces.
- Using a blend of international standards across different areas, organizations will be better equipped to realize their global ambitions – all while reducing costs, increasing efficiency and enhancing innovation