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What is a standard?

Standards are publications of agreed requirements, recommendations or specifications for products and their manufacturing or testing, for example, or for specific systems or services. Based on mutual understanding, standards make our daily lives considerably safer and easier.


Standards – common agreements that make our lives easier

A standard is a printed or digital publication where the specifications and requirements for a product, service or system, for example, are precisely defined.

Standardization means the development of best practices and solutions – the common methods, procedures and requirements. Any expert of the field in question may participate in standardization work.

As established agreements, standards help us in many ways. It is hard to fathom life without them, and it would be difficult indeed to get through the day without the support and safeguards that standards provide.

Who makes standards?

No organisation alone decides on standards. They are usually created to serve the needs and interests of the market. Anyone wishing to participate in their development can do so.

As the National Standards Body in Finland, SFS has delegated several major standardization areas to its affiliates, the standards writing bodies, representing different industries.

Standardization work is carried out in standardization groups established by SFS and other standards writing bodies. Participating in a group allows you to follow standardization, comment on draft standards and network with others in the same field of industry. Standardization groups follow European (CEN) and global (ISO) standardization, and there are also groups that develop national standards when the need arises.

Who uses standards?

Using standards is voluntary. However, some standards are considered beneficial to the extent that they are recommended by regulators. In addition, organisations may require that their potential subcontractors adhere to specific standards.

The primary reason for using standards has to do with the obvious benefits that they offer. Standards make our daily lives easier and more effortless. They improve safety and compatibility, minimising risks and surprises. Standards are used in many industries and by many organisations – both companies and public authorities.

Why aren’t standards free?

The sales revenue of standards is used to cover most of the costs of standardization work by SFS and its standards writing bodies. This work is national, European and global. Sales revenues are also used to cover the costs of revising and updating standards and to ensure that standards are available to everyone. In 2020, sales revenues comprised about 70 percent of SFS’s funding.

Developing draft standards into finished products can take years. Expertise and countless hours are required from many people, both technical advisers in standardization organisations and experts in standardization groups, the membership of which is open for anyone.

In addition to sales revenues, Finnish standardization is funded by e.g. the State of Finland, comprising 14 percent of all funding in 2020. In this way, when you purchase a standard, you pay less than what was the actual cost of making it.