We Speak a Common Language
This bulletin covers the subject of ISO standards. What are they exactly? What were they created for? And more… Enjoy.
 
Knights wouldn’t torture themselves too much with the question of where they should forge their swords. They would go to their village’s familiar, reliable blacksmith, and would not bother asking him about the type of steel, the way he cuts the blade, or whether or not the fuel he uses is environment friendly…
 
Now imagine a modern knight – he would be faced with an overwhelming variety of swords that would simply confuse him. Should he buy one made in France, in England or in an unknown location in the Far East? How can he be sure that the sword he is given will really meet his requirements rather than failing him in a life and death battle?
 
Standards were born as a result of the development in international industry and commerce, with a purpose of forming a language common to all firms.
 
And so, an organization called ISO (International Organization for Standardization) was established on February 23rd, 1947 in Switzerland, comprised of representatives of the different countries’ standardization organizations.
Logo of the International
Organization of Standartization
The various standards specify criteria for products, services or systems.
 
Any company or organization can request to be provided with an ISO standard, after passing stringent tests confirming that they meet the criteria for their type of activity.
 
Several entities in Israel are authorized to provide businesses with ISO certifications, the largest being the Standards Institution of Israel (SII). Ronet and IQC also provide similar services.
 
The certification provided by these institutions is international, i.e., it is recognized everywhere in the world, including Israel of course.
 
In many cases, ISO certification is a threshold requirement in tenders and contracts with public organizations, government ministries, security organizations and large corporations.

Besides being a marketing factor, the ISO standard is a guarantee that the firm will actually be directed in a controlled, appropriate manner, and that the products it provides are of high quality and meet the required criteria.

 
For example, a country wishing to export dairy products sends its products to the importing country with a test report confirming that they are safe. If the importing country does not trust this test report, it is forced to perform additional tests on its own, which can lead to wasting valuable time and money. Using an ISO standard can lead to trust among the different players, and bring about a condition where transferring goods between countries is much smoother.
ISO standards cover many different fields, such as:
 
      The ISO 9001:2008 standard – establishes the criteria for quality management systems. Any organization – large or small – can utilize this standard, regardless of what it does. In fact, over 1 million companies and organizations implement this standard in over 170 countries around the world.
 
      The ISO 14001:2004 standard – covers environmental management, and provides tools for the daily management of the organization’s activities in a way that takes environmental protection into account, such as using appropriate raw materials, recycling waste, and more.
 
      The ISO 27001:2005 standard – covers information security. Provides tools to comprehensively examine and review every factor connected to information security, including loss of information, infiltrations and unauthorized use of the system, viruses, data restoration, backups, etc. The standard makes it possible to identify weak points in one’s business and correct what requires improvement.
 
      The ISO 50001:2011 standard – covers energy management. Contains policies for efficient energy utilization so as to reduce costs, improve quality and protect the environment.
 
      There is even the ISO 26000:2010 standard containing guidelines for social responsibility that make it possibly to reinforce democracy and conduct a sane social dialog.
 
In summary, international standards actually provide a uniform platform through which organizations and firms can conduct their mutual business.
 
Vast information about the different ISO standards can be found on the international ISO website at http://www.iso.org.
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