Generic transition plan

ISO Standards Development

Developing ISO standards

ISO is the International Organization for Standardization. Linked off its home page is an ‘About Us’ page that provides much of the information used to put this article together. If you want it from the horse’s mouth follow the links and explore for yourself. In the middle of the ISO About Us page is a summary timeline. ISO was formed following a meeting of National Standards Bodies (NSB) in London in 1946, coming into existence in 1947 with the formation of 67 technical committees.

ISO comprises member bodies, 170 at the time of writing. Member NSBs are entitled to take part in the standards development process. For an NSB to get involved it should apply to become a member of one or more Technical Committees (TC). A list of all the ISO TCs is here.

TC 176

One example of a TC is TC 176 – Quality management and quality assurance. The ISO webpage provides details of the names of the people involved in the work of the TC, including contacts at ISO.

Each TC has a scope to ensure there is no overlap with the work of another TC. In the case of TC 176, it is:


Standardization in the field of quality management (generic quality management systems and supporting technologies), as well as quality management standardization in specific sectors at the request of the affected sector and the ISO Technical Management Board.

Note :

ISO/TC 176 is also entrusted with an advisory function to all ISO and IEC technical committees to ensure the integrity of the generic quality system standards and the effective implementation of the ISO/IEC sector policy on quality management systems deliverables.

On the committee page site, there are also links to the following information:


In the working area, we find that TC 176 is broken down into three sub-committees:


Subcommittee Subcommittee Title Published standards Standards under development
ISO/TC 176/SC 1 Concepts and terminology 1 1
ISO/TC 176/SC 2 Quality systems 7 1
ISO/TC 176/SC 3 Supporting technologies 14 2


Each subcommittee has its own ISO site providing the details linked from the summary above.

The TC 176 page also links to a website managed by the TC itself (i.e. not under the direct control of ISO). All the subcommittees have their page(s) on the TC’s site.

 On this page, ISO outlines the process for developing standards. This includes the role of the ISO member NSB including that of the technical expert(s) that they put forward to work on a TC.

The role of the Technical Management Board

The Technical Management Board (TMB) reports to the ISO Council and its role is defined in the statutes of the organization (ISO). It also has a link to the Terms of Reference for the TMB.

TMB’s page on the ISO website is here.

Primarily, TMB: 

  • approves the establishment of technical committees (TC), 
  • appoints TC chairs and 
  • monitors the progress of the technical work
  • strategic planning, 
  • coordination, performance and monitoring of TC activities.

TMB is also responsible for the ISO Directives, which describe the rules for the development of ISO and IEC standards. At the time of writing the links to ISO Directives Part 1 and Part 2 are below:

  • ISO/IEC Directives, Part 1, with ISO Supplement 2023
  • ISO/IEC Directives, Part 2, Principles and rules for the structure and drafting of ISO and IEC documents – 2021 (9th edition)

The role of the Joint Technical Coordination Group

TMB has established a Joint Technical Coordination Group (JTCG) on Management Systems Standards (MSS).

The aim of TMB and the mandate for JTCG is to ensure a structured approach to developing MS that would help with the implementation of multiple discipline-specific MSS into a single, unified management system within any organization.

They established a Joint Vision to assist with how this might be achieved, as follows:

All ISO management system standards will be aligned and will seek to further enhance the current levels of compatibility between any existing management system standards, through the promotion of identical:

  •   Clause titles
  •   Sequence of clause titles
  •   Text, and
  •   Definitions

that are permitted to diverge only where necessitated by specific differences in managing their individual fields of application. The use of this approach for future revisions will be targeted at increasing the value of the existing ISO management system standards to users.

The ISO Directives and the harmonized structure are key to the achievement of this vision. Any TC responsible for producing an ISO MSS is entitled to be a member of JTCG.

A summary of the decisions of TMB is periodically published here. This will include the formation or reformation of TCs and PCs and any updates to the ISO Directives.

Stages in standards development

Covered by the ISO Directives, the process for forming a TC is described with how the TC is formed and the Chair is appointed – currently in Clause 1. Similarly, the process for developing the first and subsequent standards is also described – in Clause 2 – Development of International Standards. This covers the stages of development and the relevant drafts that the working group produces, including working drafts (WD), committee drafts (CD), Draft International Standards (DIS) and Final Draft International Standards (FDIS). The process covers the requirements for balloting members and for the method for treating comments from members. The stages of the development process, including the numbering are covered here and the detailed stage codes are here.


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