ISO glossary of terms
Abbreviations used within the titles of ISO standards are not included in this list.
Ad hoc group (AHG)
Group set up within a committee to look into a particular problem and report back to the parent committee at a meeting. The group is disbanded after the meeting at which it presents its report.
CASCO (Conformity Assessment Committee)
Committee whose secretariat is provided by ISO/CS that deals with conformity assessment and is responsible for the development of conformity assessment standards.
Assurance given by an independent certification body (ISO does not perform certification) that a product, service or system meets the requirements of a standard.
The person with overall responsibility for a committee, who leads experts and delegates to consensus, makes sure everyone's views are heard and remains neutral. They usually come from the sector concerned and act to promote ISO's work in that sector.
Set of principles to be followed by people involved in ISO work, e.g. working within an international framework, upholding consensus, being ethical.
Comité Européen de Normalisation (CEN/CENELEC)
European standards organization, which publishes some standards in parallel with ISO. Standards with the designation EN are mandatory for CEN members.
This could be:
- a Technical Committee (TC), which develops standards in a certain sector or industry;
- a Subcommittee (SC), which addresses a specialized area within a TC;
- a Project Committee (PC), which is created to develop one standard, after which it is disbanded.
Process of determining whether someone or something meets the requirements of a standard. It can be done in one of three ways:
- first party (assessment by manufacturer/supplier themself),
- second party (assessment of manufacturer/supplier by user or purchaser),
- third party (assessment of manufacturer/supplier by someone independent).
The goal of any technical committee: general agreement where there is no sustained opposition to substantial issues by any important part of the concerned interests, in a process that seeks to take into account the views of all parties concerned (see subclause 2.5.6 in the ISO/IEC Directives, Part 1).
Person who leads a Working Group (WG) towards consensus, making sure projects are properly managed and delivered on time. Usually from the sector or industry concerned.
COPOLCO (Consumer Policy Committee)
Committee whose secretariat is provided by ISO/CS that promotes consumer interests in standardization, e.g. by selecting projects that are important to consumers and coordinating participation by people involved in these areas.
Group that governs ISO operations. It consists of the Officers, Chairs of CASCO, COPOLCO and DEVCO and 20 elected member bodies. They also appoint the Treasurer and 14 members of the TMB and decide on the annual budget of ISO/CS.
Person nominated by their National Standards Body to represent the agreed national position in the Technical Committee/Subcommittee.
Published product from ISO. This can be an International Standard, Technical Report, Technical Specification, International Workshop Agreement, Publicly Available Specification or Guide.
DEVCO (Development Committee)
Committee whose secretariat is provided by ISO/CS that encourages developing countries to take part in standardization, e.g. by identifying needs and providing training and technical help.
Chosen timescale for developing a standard from start to finish. There are three options:
- accelerated (24 months),
- default (36 months),
- extended (48 months).
IT tools for people involved in ISO's work. These include eCommittees for online committee management, the Project Portal for tracking the progress of particular projects, and electronic balloting.
Person from a particular field or industry who contributes to the development of a standard.
Form to be sent by the secretary to the committee so they can vote for a New Work Item Proposal (NWIP).
Form to be sent by the secretary to the TPM showing the voting results for a NWIP. It has to be received before the project can continue.
General assembly (GA)
Annual meeting of the officers and representatives of member bodies. Items on the agenda might include the ISO annual report, strategic plan and a financial status report.
Policy stating that every standard must be able to be used as broadly as possible by affected industries all over the world. Only projects that meet this requirement can be accepted.
ISO Central Secretariat (ISO/CS)
ISO headquarters in Geneva where everything from IT helpdesk and editing to TPMs and membership are based.
Rules covering the work of ISO and the IEC. Part 1 covers procedures for standards development; Part 2 deals with drafting.
Structure for cataloguing standards and classifying them in e.g. libraries and databases. It is organised according to sectors of the economy, technologies, activities and fields of science and can be updated when necessary.
Standards body that publishes International Standards for electrical, electronic and related technologies.
Joint Technical Committee 1 (JTC1)
Joint committee between ISO and IEC that develops, maintains and promotes information technology (IT) standards required by global markets for business and consumers. Examples of JTC 1 standards are design of IT systems, performance and interoperability of IT products and security of IT systems and information.
Justification Study (JS)
Inquiry that must be carried out and documented before developing a MSS.
Annual award (named after a former Secretary General) given to an ISO committee that excels in its work, using efficient and innovative means.
Agreement which might be between two ISO committees, an ISO committee and a corresponding IEC committee or an ISO committee and an external organization where they share expertise and relevant documents. There are different categories of external liaison with varying eligibility criteria but all must be non-profit.
ISO initiative to innovate and try out different ideas in order to improve the standardization process and create new products.
Maintenance Agency (MA)
Organization authorized to update parts of a standard which is subject to frequent changes, e.g. in an external database. An example of a standard with an MA is ISO 4217, Codes for the representation of currencies and funds.
One of the national standards bodies that makes up ISO. Three types of membership are available:
- full (participate in developing standards and policy, selling ISO deliverables and participating in governing ISO),
- correspondent (as above but do not participate in governing ISO),
- subscriber (participate in developing standards but not in policy, selling standards or governing ISO).
A standard that provides a model for setting up a management system for a business or organization. MSS standards have a uniform structure which is then tailored to the specific sector
One or more people selected by a National Standards Body and National Mirror Committee to put forward the national position at ISO committee meetings.
National Mirror Committee (NMC)
National structure set up to mirror the work of an ISO Technical Committee within a National Standards Body. The NMC brings together stakeholders to establish a national consensus position on the work.
National Standards Body (NSB)
National equivalent of ISO (e.g. BSI in the United Kingdom, NEN in the Netherlands, SABS in South Africa), which represents ISO in their country.
New Work Item Proposal (NWIP)
Idea for a new standard that is submitted for vote in the relevant TC or SC. To be accepted, a majority of P-members must vote in favour and a minimum number of those must commit to play an active part in the project. If accepted, it becomes an approved work item (AWI).
Online Browsing Platform (OBP)
Web tool for accessing extracts of standards, e.g. terms and definitions and bibliography, as well as ISO's collections of graphical symbols and country codes.
The ISO executive board, made up of the President, three Vice-Presidents (policy, technical management and finance), Treasurer and ISO Secretary General.
Observer member of a committee who follows the work and can comment but cannot vote in Committee Internal Ballots and cannot nominate an expert in a Working Group.
Annual meeting (often the only physical meeting) where a committee discusses its projects and other matters e.g. membership, its Strategic Business Plan, or barriers to its work.
Participating member of a committee who takes part in the work, is obliged to vote and can nominate an expert in a Working Group.
Expert nominated by a committee to lead a particular project, i.e. prepare (or delegate) the draft, lead discussions and ensure that it progresses.
Stage of a project’s development, corresponding to an associated document:
- Preliminary stage = Preliminary work item (PWI)
- Proposal stage = New work item proposal (NP)
- Preparatory stage = Approved work item (AWI) until there is a Working draft (WD)
- Committee stage = Committee draft (CD)
- Enquiry stage = Enquiry draft (ISO/DIS)
- Approval stage = Final Draft International Standard (ISO/FDIS)
- Publication stage = International Standard (ISO)
So, a document at enquiry stage would be designated e.g. ISO/DIS xxxx.
Regional Standards Development Organization
Standards body for a geographical area e.g. ARSO (African Regional Organization for Standardization), COPANT (Pan American Standards Commission).
Similar to an MA but, rather than updating standards, they have a registration function e.g. ISBN numbers for books.
Decision made by a committee in a meeting or as the result of a correspondence vote. At the end of a plenary meeting, the resolutions are drafted so that everyone can formally agree on them.
Administrative manager of a committee who ensures the smooth running of projects, prepares and manages meetings, circulates documents/communications and upholds ISO principles and practices. They are employed by the national standards body that holds the secretariat for that committee.
Standards Development Organisation (SDO)
Any organization whose main purpose is developing, coordinating or issuing mandatory or voluntary technical standards. These include HL7, ASTM, CIE, IEEE, IIW, IULTCS
Strategic Business Plan (SBP)
The mission statement of any TC, setting out why they exist, the work they are doing, how it will benefit their sector, how they will overcome obstacles and who is involved.
Task force (TF)
Group set up to act on future plans and/or standards development in a certain area, e.g. Management System Standards (MSS), committee performance, global harmonization.
Board responsible for the general management of the technical committee (TC) structure within ISO. It approves the establishment and dissolution of TCs, monitors progress of technical work and oversees the ISO/IEC Directives, Parts 1 and 2.
Technical Programme Manager (TPM)
A Technical Committee's point of contact within ISO/CS. They monitor a committee's work programme, advise on ISO processes and disseminate information about ISO developments and innovations.
Technical Subject Proposal (TS/P)
Field of technical work awaiting approval as a new TC by the TMB.
Scheme whereby a developing country partners with a country that is more established in standardization so they can learn the ropes and take a more influential role. The "developed" country provides guidance and assistance to help their partner.
Agreement between ISO and CEN to share information, attend each other's meetings and collaborate on standards at international and European levels.
Working Group (WG)
Specialized group within a committee that is responsible for drafting a particular standard or set of deliverables. It is usually quite small, composed of experts and headed by a convenor.
Union of standardization organizations, consisting of ISO, IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) and ITU (International Telecommunications Union).