Standards define best practice in many different areas. They’re put together by groups of experts and come in a number of different kinds, from a set of definitions to a series of strict rules.

In essence Standards are agreed ways of doing something, written down as a set of precise criteria so they can be used as rules, guidelines or definitions.

It could be about making a product, managing a process, delivering a service or supplying materials – standards can cover a huge range of activities undertaken by organizations and used by their customers.

Standards are the distilled wisdom of people with expertise in their subject matter and who know the needs of the organizations they represent – people such as manufacturers, sellers, buyers, customers, trade associations, users or regulators.

Standards cover a wide range of subjects from construction to nanotechnology, from energy management to health and safety, from cricket balls to goalposts. They can be very specific, such as to a particular type of product, or general such as management practices.

The point of a standard is to provide a reliable basis for people to share the same expectations about a product or service. This helps to:

Facilitate trade, provide a framework for achieving economies, efficiencies and interoperability, and enhance consumer protection and confidence.

A quality management standard to help them work more efficiently and reduce product failures

An environmental management standard to help reduce environmental impacts, reduce waste and be more sustainable

A health and safety standard to help reduce accidents in the workplace

An IT security standard to help keep sensitive information secure

A construction standard to help build a house

An energy management standard to help cut energy consumption

A food safety standard to help prevent food from being contaminated

An accessibility standard to help make buildings accessible to disabled users

An interoperability standard to ensure that bank and credit cards fit into ATMs and can be used throughout the world.