Standards, simply defined, are guiding principles.?? We use them as a reference to determine acceptable quality and value. They govern many facets of daily life, and that includes how we conduct our business.
In a recent interview, Chief Technical Officer with the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI), Fabian Scott, explained that the standards his organisation offered were tangible; namely "document[s] published by a recognised body to address a problem, need or demand by business, government or society with which compliance is voluntary".??
He explained that the development of these standards documents was facilitated by "the stakeholders, not the BNSI. It is these Technical Committees made up of stakeholders whom are interested in the subject that determine the minimum requirements which are published in a standard."??
Mr. Scott further explained that "once the committee has reached consensus, they recommend the standard for national adoption to the BNSI Board. Once approved by the Board and signed-off by the Minister, the standard is published in the Official Gazette as a Barbados National Standard."
The subject matter which may be featured in these standards is virtually limitless – current standards open for public comment on the BNSI website, http://www.bnsi.bb/, range from ISO/DIS 10377 Consumer Product Safety – Guidelines for Suppliers to BNS 148 Canned Corn Beef.??
In essence, a standard may be created for any good or service to ensure that an established benchmark may be used for one product or service and applied by multiple businesses across the globe.
These documents, the Chief Technical Officer noted, were borne out of necessity – that is, standards are developed because there was a need or demand for them.?? Mr. Scott underscored that "standards are inherently voluntary. [However], where the Government seeks to protect national security; public health; safety of persons; the environment; or some other legitimate objective, it can make the requirements in a standard legally binding. This is normally referred to as compulsory or mandatory standards," he revealed.
Examples of these mandatory standards include BNS 38:1981 Hollow Concrete Blocks; BNS 39:1994, Whole Chicken and Chicken Parts; and BNS 5:Part 1:1974 Labelling for Commodities, which all address matters related to consumer protection and public safety; and because of the impact that both these and voluntary standards could have on the population, the process of creating a standard – from acknowledging its need to producing a finished, physical document – is a detailed, eight stage process.??
Implementing any standard within a business will also demand similar effort; however, Mr. Scott declared that the process would ultimately aid the company in its quest to define its offerings and refine its output.
"BNSI has access to over 18,500 standards, covering numerous subject areas. Whether it’s a Barbados National Standard, CARICOM Regional Standard, or International Standard, they are available for purchase. Securing the information in a
standard is only the first step, the organisation then needs to determine what its objectives are when they implement the standard. Most of the work can be done internally; however, there will be a time when external help is required to move the organisation to a position that prepares it for final certification in conformance to that standard," he explained.
No operation is too small to benefit from standards application, and Mr Scott revealed that "there are cases of small businesses in Barbados who have implemented standards to reduce their costs and improve the quality of their products. The cost of purchasing the standard was insignificant in comparison to the savings and increased profitability of the business. Standards should be seen as business tools that seek to improve the economic viability of a business."
Giving the example of Clejo’s Enterprises, which manufactures the Amanda’s brand of dry spices and sauces, Mr. Scott emphasised that the advantages to attaining standards certification were many.
"[They have] implemented the CARICOM Regional Standard CRS 35 Spices and Sauces and [have] demonstrated a reduction in the cost of manufacturing as well as improved quality of their product. Additionally, the labelling now conforms to labelling regulations such that Clejo’s is now able to access the CARICOM markets when it is ready to do so," he said.
Mr. Scott added that even well established companies stood to benefit from introducing standards, which would assist the business increase profitability and product/service marketability; reduce cost of operations; and improve efficiencies and internal communication.
For additional information on available standards and how to implement them, persons are advised to contact Chief Technical Officer, Fabian Scott at 426-3870.