Standards are an established norm or requirement. It is usually a formal document that establishes uniform engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes and practices.

Product standards are specifications and criteria for the characteristics of products.

Process standards are criteria for the way the products are made. Social and environmental standards in agriculture are essentially process standards. These process criteria might or might not influence the characteristics of the end products.

Process standards can be further divided into management system standards and performance standards. Management systems standards set criteria for management procedures, for example for documentation or for monitoring and evaluation procedures. They do not set criteria for the performance of the management system in terms of what actually happens in the field or the packing station. Performance standards, in contrast, set verifiable requirements for factors such as the non-use of certain pesticides, or the availability of sanitary services.

Standards make our lives easier, safer and healthier. Without them, many everyday actions we take for granted would be unpredictable. Standards help to make many of the products we use safer and more reliable. They are fundamental building blocks of society, representing a common commitment to quality, safety and ethical practice.

Standards may be developed privately or unilaterally, for example by a corporation, regulatory body, military, etc. Standards can also be developed by group

Types of Standards

1.    National Standards
2.    International Standards

National Standards

Bureau of Indian Standards is the National Standards Body of India that covers product quality certification, consumer affairs and development of technical standards. MSMEs can strengthen their product quality and thus improve their business competitiveness by implementing these standards. Further, Ministry of Commerce Under the “National Programme for Organic Production” has also prescribed certain National Standards for Organic Production. To know more on these standards, click the links below.

International Standards

MSMEs desiring to export in the global markets need to maintain a minimum standard of quality for product design and function. Various developed markets have laid out specific minimum standards for import of various products. The lists of these import related standards and regulations for the US, EU and Japan can be accessed through the links below.

What is the difference between Certifications and Standards?

Certification refers to the issuing of written assurance (the certificate) by an independent, external body - that has audited an organization's management system and verified that it conforms to the requirements specified in the standard.

In other words certification is a procedure by which a third party gives written assurance that a product, process or service is in conformity with certain standards. Certification can be seen as a form of communication along the supply chain. The certificate demonstrates to the buyer that the supplier complies with certain standards, which might be more convincing than if the supplier itself provided the assurance.

The organization performing the certification is called a certification body or certifier. The certification body might do the actual inspection, or contract the inspection out to an inspector or inspection body. The certification decision, i.e. the granting of the written assurance or "certificate", is based on the inspection report, possibly complemented by other information sources.

Certification is always done by a third party.

Standards on the other hand are defined as documented agreements containing technical specifications or other precise criteria to be used consistently as rules, guidelines or definitions, to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose.

From this definition it becomes clear that standards are not only used for standardization, but also as "guidelines". Standards set the rules or guidelines on the basis of which certifications are done. Only when an entity conforms to a certain standard regularly is it certified.

Standards are usually a necessity to do business i.e. a certain minimum requirement that a product or a service needs to have, for it to be allowed to available in the market and certifications are assurances that a certain standard is regularly followed.

In some cases certifications have become mandatory for an entity to do business in a certain market. This gives the certification a characteristic of a standard and hence in this case a certification is a minimum standard required for that entity to do business. The CE mark, WHO-Good Manufacturing Practices and the EU Organic Logo are examples of mandatory certifications required for business and hence become standards.

To know more on Certifications, click here .