Substantiating and quantifying the economic and social benefits of consensus-based standards is key, both for the monitoring and prioritizing of standardization activities and for communication purposes, in order to encourage support and involvement from public, private and societal stakeholders at large.
Several studies have been developed by national standards bodies and other external research teams and many of them are listed in the repository available on the ISO/IEC Information Center web site. A great diversity of approaches has been followed, from macro-economic assessments to studies related to the economic impact of individual standards, or suites of standards.
The "Methodology to assess and communicate the economic benefits of consensus-based standards" developed by ISO with the support of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants (RBSC), proposes a general framework for the economic assessment of benefits of standards. which can help the design and development of such studies and allow better comparison of results, supporting benchmarking and identification of general trends.
The methodology has the following three objectives:
- to provide a set of methods that measure the impact of standards on organizational value creation with an emphasis on business organizations;
- to provide decision-makers with clear and manageable criteria to assess the value associated with using standards; and
- to provide guidance on developing studies to assess the benefits of standards within a particular industry sector.
The main deliverables from the project include:
- the Methodology Guide, which provides information about the theory behind the approach and details how the methodology can be applied to a company (from the private sector), to an industry sector, and how it can be adapted to deal with organizations from the public sector;
- the Methodology Toolbox, which provides a number of relevant methods and tools to manage the analysis;
- the Implementation Guide, which provides information and suggestions with regard to the application of the methodology to assess the benefit of standards for a company and an industry sector, following a step-by-step approach;
- the report “Economic Benefits of Standards in the Global Automotive Industry”, which represents an example of the implementation of the methodology for a specific industry sector.
Key findings of the first application of the ISO Methodology
The ISO Methodology has been applied in 2009 for the first time and on a pilot basis to one specific industry sector. The global automotive industry has been selected for this purpose.
As required by the methodology, the industry has been analyzed to determine its key characteristics and trends.
A comprehensive field study among car manufacturers, suppliers, service providers and dealers covering over 40 companies in 13 countries was then conducted. The role and impact of consensus-based standards in the industry was analyzed from various perspectives.
Most companies assessed during the field study have confirmed the importance of standards and the direct impact on sales and costs. Standards have been shown to have significant relevance in the automotive industry with its complex products and value chain, the complex international division of labor and the high degree of regulation.
The estimates of economic benefits of standards vary, but consistent figures have been found for the three business functions most significantly impacted by standards (Engineering, Manufacturing and Procurement), both for vehicle manufacturers and parts suppliers – with values ranging from 0.5% to 2.5% of total sales.
Projecting these figures to the worldwide automotive industry show, as a preliminary result, that the benefits of standards range between 28 and 55 billion USD per year.