Applying good standardization practices to help ISO members better serve the standardization needs of their countries.
A national standards body (NSB) is the cornerstone of the national quality infrastructure because standards contribute to industrial competitiveness, help governments protect people and the environment, and foster international trade. Good standardization practice (GSP) is, by definition, the best way of developing and publishing standards. Standardization occupies a special place in this process since other organizations involved in the national quality infrastructure base much of their work on the standards published by the NSB.
Supporting developing countries with gSP
Given the importance of standards for growing economies, promoting innovation and supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), GSP is a central pillar of our Action Plan for developing countries. Hence, a set of regional and national activities are put in place to strengthen the operational and technical capabilities of NSBs and transfer the knowledge and skills needed to apply GSP and conduct self-assessments. This benefits all stakeholders and the country as a whole.
In total, six regional training activities on GSP were held during the period 2016-2020, which were attended by 167 participants from 78 ISO members. In addition, six ISO members from least-developed countries (Bhutan, Cambodia, Madagascar, Mali, Senegal and Sudan) benefitted from the ISO in-country programme in 2019, which provided concrete guidance and tailored support to improve the application of good standardization practices.
- 88.5 % of NSBs completed a self-assessment of their national standardization system using the GSP diagnostic tool.
- 55 % of NSBs selected at least two areas to further develop and align with GSP.
Some of the key achievements/improvements countries gained from their participation in the ISO regional GSP activities are listed below.
Examples of key achievements/improvements for countries that participated in the ISO regional GSP activities
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
Optimizing the publication process of national standards (the final stage in a standard’s development process) in order to reduce the time required to make it available to users. This comprises a number of individual steps such as (i) final quality control of the standard, (ii) publication of the standard, and (iii) documentation control.
- Côte d’Ivoire
Helping some of the country’s priority technical committees to develop a business plan that provides clear guidance on strategy and operational issues. This is a useful tool for the NSB as well as the committees to monitor performance.
Developing training material and implementing an annual training programme for Chairs of the national technical committees. This enhances the effectiveness and efficiency of the standards development process in Kenya.
Conducting training and awareness events to improve cooperation between the NSB and its stakeholders. These include the Chamber of Engineers, the Chamber of Commerce and the Directorate for SMEs, which are currently the main standards users and may be interested in contributing more actively to standardization work in the future.
Reviewing the current key performance indicators and developing new ones. These will serve as a management tool to render the whole standards development and maintenance process more efficient, identify weaknesses in the process and provide feedback to the Board or Council and the relevant ministries on the NSB’s performance.
Upgrading an electronic library with important new information on national, regional and international standards for local stakeholders.
A diagnostic tool has been developed as part of the publication to help NSBs review and evaluate their current situation and performance. It can be used to identify appropriate solutions in order for an NSB to comply with good standardization practices.
Feedback from our participants
While participating in this training, I realized that although we are developing our work well, there is always an opportunity for improvement by updating our info and exchanging experiences with other national standardization bodies.
The regional training activity served to validate the current modus operandi of the standardization system in my country. I was also provided with very valuable information which can be used to improve the current processes.
The regional training provided substantial information on current GSP developments and new things were learnt. [It enabled] information sharing for possible benchmarking and networking opportunities.
A very well-informed session with lots of new knowledge. It allowed me as Line Ministry to better understand how our NSB is operating with respect to the development of standards. Our targets are usually the number of standards to complete in a year. It has also opened my eyes to some of the limitations it faces, when looking at the value change – limited staffing, need for ICT support, finance, etc.
Participating in this capacity building activity helped me to consolidate and improve my knowledge in the field of standardization, provided by competent lecturers with extraordinarily relevant experience. Thank you very much and good luck!
NSBs in the Caribbean region are stronger because of this intervention.