The conformity with standards provides assurance to the stakeholders that products and/ or services will operate as desired.
The standardization began with the establishment of International Electrontechnical Commission (IEC) in 1906. Other significatn contributions in fields other than the electrotechnical field came through International Federation of the National Standardizing Associations (ISA) that was established in 1926. In 1946, it was decided to create a new international organization with objective 'to facilitate the international coordination and unification of industrial standards'. Hence, ISO came in to being and officially started operations on February 23, 1947.
All members of ISO are treated equally towards development of standards. Having one vote per member regardless of the country to which he/ she belongs, ISO's activities are carried out in democratic way at the strategic as well as technical and operational levels.
ISO is a non-government organization and as such all the standards that are developed by ISO are not monitored for implementation as part of the regulatory mechanism. However, many countries and associations, realizing the value and impact of these standards, have made it mandatory for companies to comply in their respective countries.
Only those standards are develop by ISO for which there is a requirement in the market. Standards are developed by industry, technical and market experts and they are joined by other specialized knowledge bearers.
Since the standards are developed when there is a market requirement, and are finalized once consensus is obtained from the stakeholders, this ensure the wide spread acceptance once the standards are out. ISO reviews the standards once every five years to ensure these remain current and up-to-date.
There are around 3,000 ISO technical groups including technical committees, sub-committees, and working groups having almost 5,000 experts who participate towards development of ISO standards and with their consensus, the standards are finalized.
What makes ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 so Special
ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 series of standards have become the market's de facto standards for quality and environment management. ISO 9000 is related to quality management to achieve customer satisfaction and to meet regulatory requirements by continuous improvement in quality. ISO 14000 is concerned with environmental management and speaks of methods and techniques to reduce the harmful effects on the environment by organizations.
Most of the ISO standards are specifically applied to a product, service or a process. In contrast, ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 are generic management system standards. This means that same standard can be applied regardless of the size of the company