A service-oriented ISO for satisfied customers

Issue 38 – May 2012

This article was written by Elisabeth Stampfl-Blaha, ISO Vice-President (technical management) and first appeared in ISO Focus+, March 2012. It is summarised here with permission from ISO.

Over its long history, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has strived to continually improve its products and processes in an environment that has remained any­thing but constant. Meeting the needs and expectations of its custom­ers explains ISO's successes over the last 65 years – a tough challenge given customers' constantly evolving needs.

With the first year of the ISO Strate­gic Plan 2011 – 2015 now complete, the course has been set for progress. To build a community of satisfied stakeholders, ISO listens to customers, identifies their needs, learns from them, and acts accord­ingly. My term as ISO Vice-President (technical management) for 2012 – 2013 will be no exception.

Focus is both internal and external. Internally, Standards that are 'simpler, faster, and better' will be developed using three routes:

  • the ISO Chairs' conferences held every 3 years ; a unique face-to-face interaction linking an exchange of views, experience, and best practice by the leaders of ISO committees
  • the ISO Living Laboratory project, a software model of the end-to-end ISO Standards development process to identify factors key to ISO's future success. New ideas will be tried out, new development approaches tested, and existing paradigms challenged to achieve our goal to be 'the world's leading provider of high quality, globally relevant International Standards'.
  • the TMB electronic newslet­ter informs the technical community of key decisions and how these affect them. Communications will be reviewed in the coming year, so stay tuned.

This drive for improvement extends to ISO's external network and our partner­ships with over 600 international and regional organisations in liaison with our technical committees. It is critical to reach out to Standards development organisations outside the ISO system, be they international, regional or national, to fora, and consortia.

We can learn from creative solutions already developed to meet customers' needs irrespective of institutional borders. Clever, common, and comprehensive solu­tions are needed for technical systems and their respective business models.

ISO understands key sector strategic issues by working with industry leaders to develop globally relevant, market-driven International Standards. In 2011, the partnership between the automotive sector and ISO reached an important milestone with the gathering of high-level industry leaders for the ISO President's Forum – 'The future of vehicles'.

Such direct encounters between the ISO system and industry customers define com­mon responsibilities and set up the structure for large standardisation programmes. A commitment must be made by all parties to adhere to decisions taken and to deal with upcoming problems in a flexible way.

In recent years, emerging economies have increased their involvement in ISO to reflect their growing economic importance. We hope to see even more countries contributing to the international standardisation process. As the scope of our agenda broadens, new partners join the ISO system and the benefits that ISO Standards can deliver to business, government, and society are increasingly recognised.

Last but not least, Standards are not developed to be left unread (in Standards bodies or elsewhere). The distribution of International Standards via the ISO system is an important way to further customer satisfaction. When our member bodies promote ISO Standards and adopt them as national Standards, together with ISO's global relevance policy, our collective effectiveness is enhanced.

No subject better illustrates ISO's ability to adapt with the times than the portfolio of international Standards to meet the needs of the services sector. With the growth in this sector, emerging requirements have given rise to new approaches to satisfy market players and economic partners.

In the last 5 years, ISO has created some 40 new technical or project commit­tees, at least half related to services. These moves form part of ISO's commitment to continuously improve ISO's end product. We are confident that these deliverables will respond to current market requirements.

Note: Standards New Zealand is New Zealand's representativefor ISO. Members of Standards New Zealand receive a 20% discount on all Standards. For more information, visit our membership page or call 0800 782 632 during business hours.

Published in international.