A standard is a "documented agreement containing technical specifications or other precise criteria to be used consistently as rules, guidelines or definitions of characteristics, to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose." (ISO)
- make the development, manufacturing and supply of products and services more efficient, safer and cleaner
- facilitate trade between countries
- disseminate innovation
- provide governments with a technical base for health, safety and environmental legislation, and conformity assessment
- share technological advances and good management practice
- safeguard consumers
- provide solutions to common problems
Standards are developed by international and national standard organizations, as well as professional and industry organizations.
To make the process of developing a new standard more efficient, organizations often adopt an existing standard as their own. Examples are equivalent Australian and New Zealand standards. Numerous Australian standards have an equivalent British or ISO standard.