Page 3: Benefits to stakeholders
Standards relate both to products (how particular products function or interact, e.g. electrical plugs, or how services are delivered e.g. crowd control) and to management systems (e.g. how environmental protection systems will be overseen and managed). Everyone benefits from standard setting and their benefits are inter-related.
Businesses are key beneficiaries, because standards create clarity and certainty and remove confusion. Meeting the required standard gives an important marketing advantage - firms able to state that their products meet BSI standards are more attractive to customers.
Standardization is beneficial because it:
- Helps businesses to be commercially viable. Producing standard products, or products assembled from standard parts, makes sense to manufacturers and service providers because standardized products and parts reduce design, production, warehousing and distribution costs.
- Is reassuring. Because when goods conform to certain standards in order to be put on sale, consumers know they can believe the claims that producers make for them.
- Is protective. The standardization process gives a high priority to health and safety. Standardization assures safety, offers consumers assurance, and helps to create a cleaner environment (through environmental standards).
- Helps businesses to be cost effective and time efficient. Creating a standard is relatively straightforward because BSI has tried and tested processes for doing it.
An important aspect of standardization that makes it attractive and acceptable to business is that it is market led - the standards set meet customers' needs.
For example, building contractors require electrical fittings that meet British Standards in order to offer guarantees to those people who have contracted the builders' services. House buyers also know that fittings and components are made to standards and are safe to use and offer greater security (for example double glazed windows and door locks). Some of these standards are required by law.
Formal standards also promote fair competition and avoid the abuse of economic power by creating an open market, based on standards that have been developed with a wide consensus.
The Government's need to regulate business activity directly is reduced because standardization is a form of self-regulation. Importantly, under European law, standards may be used by manufacturers as a way of demonstrating compliance to European legislation.
Creating new standards is an ongoing process. This is illustrated by the recent European Union Directives on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS). These are designed to reduce the adverse impact of obsolete electrical equipment (e.g. computers, refrigerators) on the environment at the time of disposal.
The Directive makes manufacturers financially responsible for the reuse, recycling and recovery of WEEE. It becomes enforceable by August 2004. Responding to this directive in the UK involves relevant manufacturers working with technical experts and BSI to create new manufacturing standards and systems that will help to dramatically reduce such wastes (which currently account for 4 per cent of municipal waste in the EU) to the benefit of consumers. BSI thus continually works with stakeholders to create better standards.