The International Organization for Standardization

Categories: Sustainability

History of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) began earlier than the actual date of formation of the organization. Virtually, it started activities in 1926, because ISO was based on other two main organizations – International Federation of National Standardizing Associations (ISA) and United Nations Standards Coordinating Committee (UNSCC).
The organization’s work with its current name begins in from in 1947 (in some sources date of birth of organization is considered from 26th October 1946) and since then published many different standards that cover many areas of activities, such as business and technology.

ISO is non-governmental organization and it has a status of consultant of United Nations.
Members of organization are national agencies, which represent interests of their countries among ISO and also represent ISO in their countries. At the very beginning of the creation of ISO, the decision was made by 25 representatives from different countries. The organization began to develop quite rapidly, as it helped the governments of different countries to solve problems of an economic nature.

Nowadays there are 164 countries in ISO.
Every member body who is interested in the work of the committee has the right to be a member of this committee. Standards are reached by consensus with any affiliate that represents the interests of suppliers, manufacturers, consumers, professions, and the government of their country.
Each standard goes through a six stage process before being published. At the first stage, members propose standards and describe why organization needs to accept namely this standard. Also at this stage, members who will be involved in the further development of these standards are appointed.

Top Writers
Verified writer
4.7 (239)
Chris Al
Verified writer
4.9 (478)
Prof. Laser
Verified writer
4.8 (435)
hire verified writer

Then the preparatory stage begins and a draft of the planned actions for the development of standards is presented. When the draft is elaborated it enters the committee stage and is sent out for comments until a consensus is reached. The result of this phase is a draft of an international standard (DIS). Then DIS enters the investigation phase, where it is distributed to all participating positions and then coordinated. If DIS does not receive 75% of the vote, it will return to the lower levels and continue to work on it. If it passes the requirement phase, it becomes the final draft of the international standard and enters the approval phase. At this point, it will be redistributed to all member bodies for final voting, and again it must pass this phase with 75% of the vote. If the standard passes this phase, it enters the publication phase and is sent to the ISO Central Secretariat for publication. [1]
ISO Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland in “Economic benefits of Standards” in 2014 published a scheme of ISO work. (“Economic benefits of Standards”, Figure 1 – Analyzing the company value chain, 2014, p. 4) \nAs some technologies change so quickly, ISO has introduced an accelerated process that allows a standard that has been tested on the market to be included in the approval process during the request phase.
During these years there were many bodies, which influenced work of organization. Over 50 years, various bodies have been set up within ISO in order to help standardization respond to the needs of the consumer. I S O / TC 73 was the first but, as Raymond Frontard says, “we had a lot of possible tools within ISO”. In 1968, in order to enhance cooperation with the consumer movement, ISO and the IEC established an International Standards Steering Committee on Consumer Affairs (ISCA). This was a forum at which representative s of the consumer organizations could advise ISO and the IEC on priorities for international standardization and review progress. Ten years later, in 1978, the present – day Council committee on consumer policy, COPOLCO, was set up. (“Friendship among equals”, Standard-Related Activities, \"The global view\" Raymond Frontard, Former Director-General of AFNOR, p. 46). There were many such bodies after that and all of them are formed the history of organization.
Another influential international organization, the WTO (World Trade Organization), is actively advocating the implementation of ISO standards. The signs of this support are also easy to find. For example, in 2011, at the 34th ISO General Assembly, the head of the WTO, Pascal Lamy, spoke, in particular, addressed the delegates with the following words: In a nutshell, I think ISO can promote the uptake of its standards by making them globally relevant and of high quality. To achieve relevance and quality, both process and substance are important. The process whereby the standard is developed is crucial. Delegations at the WTO repeatedly emphasize the importance of transparency and accountability – that the process is open, impartial and based on consensus. A broad stakeholder involvement will boost the beneficial, confidence-building aspects of standards; in fact, the process for the development of the recently launched ISO 26000 standard is interesting in this regard. (ISO Focus, The magazine of the International Organization for Standardization, ISO strategy 2011-2015, Volume 2, №1, January, 2011, Guest Interview WTO-Director General Pascal Lamy, p. 4)
The first standard was accepted in 1951. The first ISO standard (called Recommendations at this time), ISO/R 1:1951 Standard reference temperature for industrial length measurements, is published. Now it is ISO 1:2002 Geometrical Product Specifications (GPS) — Standard reference temperature for geometrical product specification and verification. [5]
The first meeting of the ISO General Assembly was held in Paris in 1949. In the sixties, the problem of participation of ISO in developing countries became acute. The difficulties of standardization participants from such countries were the lack of technology, as well as the limited financial resources. Therefore, the DEVECO committee was created to deal with these difficulties within the ISO. Other steps to resolve this issue were taken in 1968.
In 1979, the Technical Committee ISO 176 “Management and Quality Assessment” was established.
One of the key moments of the nineties for ISO was the formation of the technical committee ISO 207 “Environmental Management”. This topic stays actual in our days. Organizations need to know which environmental measures and strategies are economically sound. For example, valuing natural resources and performing environmental cost-benefit analyses are both strategically and tactically important steps in sustainable development programs.
ISO 14007 will enable organizations to determine and communicate the costs and benefits associated with their environmental aspects, impacts and dependencies on natural resources. It tells organizations how to carry out cost-benefit analyses for different environmental options. (Calculating the value of the environment with new ISO standard by Liz Gasiorowski on 14 November 2019)
At the moment, under the conditions of fierce competition in the business world, many companies are not only trying to consolidate their success in the market for products and services, but are also trying to achieve a new, high-quality level of development of their activities. Stopping, giving up or missing the initiative means losing this \"race for survival\". In this situation, it is particularly difficult for small and medium-sized companies where the competition is highest.
If we analyze the activities of the organization, we can see that it is effective.
ISO 9000 standards have contributed to the international harmonization of all quality management documents. According to many authorities in the field of quality, the development of standards has become an outstanding scientific success, because its creators managed to solve the seemingly insoluble problem: to find an approach acceptable to the entire world community to assess quality systems and create a quality guarantee for consumers.
The 9000 series of standards immediately gained worldwide recognition and became one of the most popular ISO documents in the more than fifty-year history of this organization. The success of ISO 9000 standards confirms two important achievements:
standards contain time-tested concepts of internal quality management and models for external quality assurance;
standards meet the growing needs of international quality management and are widely used as a universal tool for assessing quality systems by second and third parties. [7]
In general ISO with its standards had and has undoubted benefits, but the role of some standards is exaggerated.
The essence of ISO 9000 lies in the economically viable application of the so-called “rule of trust”, which allows rational use of the resources of a single enterprise and economy, in general. In order to understand the essence of ISO 9000, it is necessary not to confuse, but to separate two basic concepts – certification of quality systems and quality management.
ISO helps make products compatible, so they fit and work well with each other, identify safety issues of products and services, share good ideas and solutions, technological know-how and best management practices and etc.
“Quality systems – a model for ensuring quality in the design, development, production, installation and maintenance” establishes the requirements for a quality system when it is necessary to demonstrate the ability of a supplier enterprise to design and supply appropriate products. The standard is designed to prevent any inconsistencies in product quality at all stages – from design to maintenance. This is the most comprehensive quality assurance model.
ISO Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland published ISO in brief in 2019 and mentioned how organizations and countries in general in different areas benefit do from International Standards, from them we also can confirm that ISO has many positive sides:

  • Become more competitive by offering products and services that are accepted globally
  • Enter new markets easily
  • Raise profits by offering products with increased quality, compatibility and safety
  • Reduce costs by not reinventing the wheel and using available resources better
  • Benefit from the knowledge and best practice of leading experts around the world

Regulators :

  • Harmonize regulations across countries to boost global trade
  • Increase credibility and trust throughout the supply chain
  • Make it easier for countries to outsource and specialize

Society :

  • Wider choice of safe and reliable products and services at competitive prices
  • Best practice and concerted action at the organizational level to practically address global challenges like climate change and sustainability. (ISO Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, ISO in brief in 2019, p. 8)

They also wrote about their uniqueness, which is noticeable, because uniqueness is a significant factor of successful organization:
“Our global network. ISO members come from virtually every country in the world.
Our brand. ISO is recognized globally and associated with confidence.
Our integrity. We have been publishing the standards the world needs since our creation in 1947. Today, the ISO brand is recognized globally.
Our commitment to consensus. We work with more than 700 organizations and over 100 000 experts from different industries and sectors.
Our partnerships. We work closely with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). We also have a strategic partnership with the World Trade Organization (WTO) to promote free and fair trade.” (ISO Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, ISO in brief in 2019, p. 9)
ISO strategy 2016-2020 shows a quite optimistic plans which are make standards used everywhere (Ensuring a coherent and credible collection of standards that are used effectively by industry and bring recognized benefits to economies; Producing International Standards in a clear, understandable language, that are easy to read and user friendly) , develop high-quality standards through ISO’s global membership (Developing market-relevant standards that address the needs of industry, regulators, consumers and other stakeholder groups; Improving the coherence, efficiency and timeliness of standards development through good project management, technical, editorial and procedural rigour, and effective information and communication support), engage stakeholders and partners (Improving ISO member engagement with stakeholders, considering their level of development, expected performance in ISO, national strategic priorities, language and translation needs, and regional cooperation opportunities; Strengthening the input of as many members and their stakeholders as possible in ISO’s development process, including under-represented groups; Engaging the best experts in a continually growing list of relevant subject areas that address global challenges, and make best use of this valued knowledge resource) (ISO strategy 2016-2020, ISO Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, 2016, p. 5-9)
The benefits of ISO 9001 certification are diverse and can be divided into the following categories.

Increase market opportunities

The company\'s competitiveness is increasing – the quality management system as a whole and optimally improves customer satisfaction. This helps both develop potential with existing customers, as satisfied customers usually buy more and more often, and in acquiring new customers.\nProfit increase
Streamlined processes and error prevention help reduce costs. The introduction of key indicators shows potential and losses. And improving quality leads to increased sales, which brings us back to the issue of customer satisfaction.\nExpanding Strategic Success Factors
Certification ISO 9001 means getting an image for the company, because it documents and demonstrates the pursuit of quality. Process transparency enhances employee understanding and, for example, simplifies the training of new employees. Quality management and ISO 9001 certification offer risk minimization and legal certainty in the event of damage, usually a charge of gross negligence (often an argument from insurance for failure to pay the amount of damage).

Increase process performance

The transit time, for example, of requests or complaints is reduced, and the overall performance is increased. Systems for continuous improvement are implemented and optimized. Systematic descriptions of processes allow avoiding duplication of work on the one hand and omissions on the other. [11]\nTaking everything in consideration, after brief outlining and analysis of ISO origin and evolution, it is important to say that ISO is an effective organization with a saturated history and it has many advantages. Especially, big profits it brings to the organizations. The benefits of obtaining an ISO 9001 certificate are proportionally related to the efforts that the company has made from the very start of production. An enterprise that has received a certificate of international standards has numerous advantages that can be divided into external and internal. External benefits include: improving the image of the company; explicit benefits for obtaining a loan for the company; great advantages in concluding government contracts and participating in tenders; offer special conditions for insurance of risks associated with the provision of services and production; company value rises. If the company has a certificate of compliance with ISO 9001, its cost rises by 10-15%; increasing the effectiveness and manageability of activities; business process optimization; implementation of transparency of the company and so on.

Cite this page

The International Organization for Standardization. (2021, Oct 31). Retrieved from

The International Organization for Standardization
Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7