International Organization for Standardization

International Organization for Standardization
See also

ISO , or the International Organization for Standardization, is a global non-governmental organization based in Geneva (Switzerland). He deals with setting standards for products, services and management systems that play a key role in facilitating foreign trade and international cooperation.

The commonly used ISO abbreviation does not relate to the name in English, but to the Greek word isos, which is equal. This is to symbolize the uniformity that is introduced in the world by implementing ISO standards, regardless of country and language. Among the basic objectives of the activity conducted by the Organization:

  • willingness to ensure compatibility of products manufactured in different countries,
  • improvement of production methods and techniques,
  • assistance in conducting activities related to health and life or environmental protection,
  • enabling easier communication in conducting business on a global scale by unifying the applied concepts, signs and symbols.

An example of the Organization's activities is the determination of standard paper dimensions (A4), which is used all over the world or the introduction of universal markings for countries and currencies (Poland - PL, zloty - PLN).

ISO standards

ISO standards are documents developed by international experts in a given field. They contain information and practical tips, as well as good practices regarding a wide range of aspects of the business. Among the benefits of their implementation in the enterprise one can indicate, among others:

  • improving efficiency,
  • increase in work efficiency
  • risk minimization
  • a more balanced way of doing business.

Standards are universal, they can be used in entities of any sector, regardless of size - they will work in both micro and large enterprises. These standards can also be applied by governmental and non-governmental organizations. Currently, enterprises most often implement standards:

  • 9000 series, defining the principles of functioning in the quality management system entity,
  • 14000 series, defining the environmental management system,
  • 18000 series, describing the operation of occupational health and safety systems.,
  • 27000 series, which focus on the information security management system,
  • 28000 series, related to security management systems in the supply chain.


In the second half of the nineteenth century, the need to standardize product parameters between manufacturers was recognized, which initiated the industry standardization stage. The specialization of enterprises in the production of specific products has led to the need to standardize those parts of products that could be combined with products from other manufacturers. Another type of agreements between producers were attempts to determine the characteristics of classes and species of mass goods. The development of industry standards, which were intended to remove technical barriers in trade, was accelerated in the second half of the 19th century through the development of commodity exchanges. A further step in the development of these standards was the development of standards containing definitions, terms, signs and symbols commonly used.

Shortage of qualified employees, rapid development of industry and growing demand in the early twentieth century caused the necessity of national regulations. The first standardization organizations were founded at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1901, the Standardization Organization Committee was established as the first standardization body, transformed in 1918 into the British Standardization Organization (BSI). The next national bodies were the German Standardization Committee in 1917. (currently DIN) and the Standardization Committee in the United States in 1918. The first international standardization organization was IEC - the International Electrotechnical Commission established in 1904 in connection with the rapidly growing electrotechnical industry. At the time, its tasks concerned the harmonization of the parameters of electricity produced and products using it. Currently, IEC carries out its activities in close cooperation with ISO.

Standardization organizations, in view of the development of international cooperation, established in Switzerland in 1926 the International Federation of Standards Committees, whose role was primarily the exchange of information. Its operation was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II, and in 1942 the activities of the Federation were suspended. On the basis of this organization, at the initiative of the UN Coordinating Committee in 1947, a new unit was established, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), whose task was to create international standards to which national standards were to be adapted. Currently, ISO brings together entities from 162 countries around the world.