Original publish date – Mon, 13 Jul 2009 12:15:58 +0000, Keith

ISO (International Standards Organisation) gives this description:
“Why standards matter

Standards make an enormous and positive contribution to most aspects of our lives.

Standards ensure desirable characteristics of products and services such as quality, environmental friendliness, safety, reliability, efficiency and interchangeability – and at an economical cost.

When products and services meet our expectations, we tend to take this for granted and be unaware of the role of standards. However, when standards are absent, we soon notice. We soon care when products turn out to be of poor quality, do not fit, are incompatible with equipment that we already have, are unreliable or dangerous.

When products, systems, machinery and devices work well and safely, it is often because they meet standards. And the organization responsible for many thousands of the standards which benefit the world is ISO.

When standards are absent, we soon notice.”

The relevance? We are still seeing various SANAS (on behalf of ISO) accredited verification agencies that give vastly differing opinions on various aspects of the codes. As a result you cannot be assured that your scorecard will be consistently calculated by different agencies, or even by different analysts from the same agency.
We heard today of an agency that allows a measured entity to choose the inception date of enterprise development spend. The codes are clear, the inception date is the commencement date of statement 700, i.e. date of the publication of the codes (9th February 2007, or up to 5 years before, but definitely not after!).

It means some companies have had to spend twice as much this year to make up for last year’s shortfall, but if they had chosen this particular agency, could have saved their money. Since ED is 3% of net profit after tax, this “saving” could be millions of rands for large companies. On the other hand, any company that chose to use this agency and allow their interpretation stands the chance of their scorecard being declared invalid.

Some standard indeed! It’s about time SANAS, or ISO did something about it.