July 4, 2016

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3 Reasons Why Security Standards and Certifications are Worth the Effort

At IFSEC 2016, a panel of experts discussed the current state of British and European industry standards.

Dave Wilkinson (technical director, BSIA), Dr Allison Wylde (senior lecturer, Regents University), Tony Weeks (head of technical services, NSI) and Beverly Webb (lead programme manager, BSI) examined the ins and outs of certification, accreditation and integration with the EU.

Here are three key lessons to come out of the debate.

1. Creating a British or European standard needn’t be a lengthy process

The development time for a British Standard ranges between one and four years, depending on the complexity of the subject and the range of stakeholders involved. For this reason, international standards usually take longer to develop than those produced locally.

“Typical time frames are 18 months from start to finish for a British Standard and 36 months for a European Standard,” Dave Wilkinson says. “In Europe, there are also fast track procedures that take around two years.”

British Standards are not the only type of standard produced by the BSI. Some of these, particularly Publicly Available Specifications (PASs) can often be developed in much shorter timescales.

2. Accreditation is vital

“You wouldn’t go to a doctor unless you were sure they were registered,” Tony Weeks says. “Don’t take risks – use bodies that are accredited.”

Businesses needing the services of certification bodies, testing or calibration laboratories, or inspection bodies, should use a UKAS-accredited supplier. Organisations can save time and money by selecting an accredited (and therefore competent) body.

Using accredited services can open up new business opportunities (as accreditation is specified by some procurement officials) and show due diligence in the event of legal action. It can also help with knowledge transfer and product development since accredited evaluation bodies can be a good source of impartial advice.

3. Standards are well worth the cost

Conducted by independent experts at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) and commissioned by BSI, a recent report lists the economic benefit of implementing standards. The report is said to be the most comprehensive study to date and looks at economic data from 1921 to 2013.

It analyses the macroeconomic and microeconomic impact of BSI’s voluntary standards across the UK economy. The study concludes that they are a vital part of the strength of UK industry and play a crucial and often invisible role in supporting economic growth.

The research found that standards contribute £8.2 billion to the UK economy. It also claims that 37.4% of UK productivity growth can be attributed to standards and along with 28.4% of annual UK GDP growth.

A further £6.1 billion of additional UK exports per year are claimed to be a result of the framework.

Of those companies surveyed, 84% say that using standards enhances their reputation; 73% state greater control of environmental problems; 89% say that standards contribute to the optimisation of compliance with regulations, such as health and safety legislation; 50% claim innovation through the diffusion of knowledge; and 70% say that standards contribute to improving their supply chain by improving the quality of supplier products and services.

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