Today is World Standards Day, an annual celebration of the collaborative efforts of the thousands of experts worldwide who develop the international standards that make all aspects of life easier.
In everyday life, we tend to take standards for granted. The utility of a good standard makes it unobtrusive: you simply accept that things will work the same way wherever you are without questioning why. I know, for instance, that a pint will be a pint in whatever pub I visit and I know that my bank card will work in every merchant terminal to pay for it. I can thank standards for that. Your very good health, sirs.
The same principle is true at work, where standards provide a set of requirements, distilled from the wisdom of industry experts, to ensure the everyday effectiveness of repeatable processes. By working to an agreed set of specifications, your organisation will be more successful in what it does.
Standards underpin our work here at IT Governance, where we provide a wide selection, including the management systems standards ISO 9001:2015 (for quality management systems), ISO 14001:2015 (for environmental management systems), ISO 38500:2008 (for IT governance), ISO 22301:2012 (for business continuity management) and, of course, ISO 27001:2013 for (information security management systems) and the PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard).
Management system standards and Annex SL
One feature of new ISO management system standards is the introduction of Annex SL, which sets out the high-level structure, and terms and definitions common to all new management system standards. Historically, management system specifications such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 27001 had common elements, but their conflicting structures made it challenging for organisations to address them all in a single integrated management system. One of the benefits of Annex SL is that it streamlines implementing multiple management systems.
Annex SL sets out ten section headings for the high-level structure, identical core text for subclauses and requirement text, and a number of common terms and core definitions. In future, all ISO management system standards should enjoy a greater consistency and compatibility, making them easier to implement and maintain in unison.