What is a standard? & What does it do?

In essence, a standard is an agreed way of doing something. 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 organizations 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 organizations 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’s up to you-you’re not forced to follow a set of rules that make life harder for you, you’re 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 organizations 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, from cricket balls to goalposts. They can be very specific, such as to a particular type of product, 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.

Organizations might use:

a quality management standard to help them work more efficiently and reduce product failures
an environmental management standard to help reduce environmental impacts, reduce waste and be more sustainable
a health and safety standard to help reduce accidents in the workplace
an IT security standard to help keep sensitive information secure
a construction standard to help build a house
an energy management standard to help cut energy consumption
a food safety standard to help prevent food from being contaminated
an accessibility standard to help make buildings accessible to disabled users