From strategy to implementation
ISO Council, the organization’s executive arm, assigned over CHF 1 600 000 to the implementation of the ISO Strategic Plan 2011-2015. These efforts show how serious ISO is in investing on its key strategic objectives. In particular because this amount is designed to help achieve ISO’s strategic objective of ensuring that the capacity and participation of developing countries in international standardization is significantly enhanced.
What is most exciting is that this money, together with very generous funding from donor agencies and directly from some of ISO’s members, allows the decisive implementation of the ISO Action Plan for Developing Countries 2011-2015.
Since this Action Plan is, for the first time ever, linked to the ISO Strategic Plan, ISO can commit funding developing country programmes at the current levels until December 2015.
Put another way, over the period 2011-2015, ISO will be able to invest in programmes worth at least CHF 17 000 000 (around USD 19 000 000), almost 30 % of the ISO Central Secretariat budget !
Making dreams reality
This level of commitment from ISO Council has had three immediate benefits. First, key donor agencies have seen a clear promise and resolve to use these resources in a sustained and targeted manner and, as a result, have felt an increased level of confidence to invest in multi-year programmes. For example, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has committed to a five-year programme, whose sole objective is to assist in the implementation of the ISO Action Plan for Developing Countries 2011-2015.
Secondly, the clear linkage between the ISO Strategic Plan 2011-2015, approved by ISO’s members at the ISO General Assembly in Oslo in September 2010, and the ISO Action Plan for Developing Countries 2011-2015 further encourages developing countries to participate in programmes that have multi-year funding.
Finally, we can already start planning long-term training and development programmes. The ISO/CS team responsible can thus spend more time developing and delivering much-needed assistance. Great examples are two new programmes: the first aims to help national standards bodies to review current practices, identify opportunities for improvement, and then implement programmes to do just that with follow up for one to two years ; the second is a pilot programme to assist in the implementation of ISO 26000:2010, Guidance on social responsibility, in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region.
Most importantly, this level of ISO Council funding has bridged the gap between wishing we could implement the great ideas received from ISO members, and actually being able to satisfy their training and development needs.
ISO’s business model
This opportunity would not have been possible if ISO did not have the financial resources. It highlights a fundamental point about the ISO business model. If we – and by this I mean ISO and its members – cannot rely on a business model that allows sufficient money to reinvest in standards development at a global level, then ultimately the future of the whole system is put in jeopardy.
Today's standards development is funded from many sources, and the load is therefore shared. To give a simple example, the dedicated experts working on ISO technical committees may pay their own way, or be paid by their employer. ISO members are financed in a multitude of ways including fees for membership, from sales of the standards that they help produce, or from other services such as certification through arms-length subsidiaries or associate organizations. ISO Central Secretariat is funded mainly from membership fees and sales of standards.
Of ISO’s 160 members, 99 % are not-for-profit. This also means (don’t forget: I am an accountant !) that they are not-for-loss organizations as well. For ISO and its members to improve both the process of standards development and the participation of all who should be involved in standards development, we must have the money needed to invest – in our members, in the standards development process and in the future – for the benefit of all.