What is a Standard?

A Standard is a formal, written document that usually contains requirements or specifications - these must be done or must exist.  Some Standards also contain procedures.  Every Standard represents a consensus on what is required or should be done. ISO 9001 is one of many international Standards produced by ISO; they are all recognisable by the ISO that appears before the number.  

Why Standards?

Standards are intended to ensure that systems, services, products and components are reliable, safe and fit for purpose. They establish common criteria. For business, they should reduce costs, by minimizing waste and errors and increasing productivity. They should also help companies access new markets, help level the playing field for developing countries and facilitate global trade.


The vast majority of Standards are very specific. By contrast, ISO 9001 is a generic Standard; another is ISO 140001 for environmental management. Because they are so generic, they can be applied to any organisation in any industry or field in any country, regardless of the type of service or product and size/type of the organisation.

Different Types of Standards

There are: 

ISO Standards are international: developed and managed by ISO.  

All ISO Standards have ISO in front of the number, for example:

Country-specific Standards apply only within a particular country.  For example, Australian Standards are designated by AS in front of the number, such as AS 5812 for pet food for domestic dogs and cats.  Sometimes a country-specific Standard may become an ISO Standard: the international standard for Risk Management, ISO 31000, began life originally as an Australian Standard. 

How ISO Standards are Developed

The information following is based on that provided on the official website for ISO.  

Guiding principles for ISO Standards:

There is a formal process to develop and update Standards: