This set of best practices addresses standards and their place in implementing IS solutions.

What is a standard?

The National Standards Policy Advisory Committee defines a standard as:

"A prescribed set of rules, conditions, or requirements concerning definitions of terms; classification of components; specifications of materials, performance, or operations; delineation of procedures; or measurement of quantity and quality in describing materials, products, systems, services, or practices."

In layman's terms, a standard is essentially a rule or requirement that is determined by a consensus opinion (usually by a governing body of knowledgeable individuals) and that prescribes the accepted and (theoretically) the best criteria for a product, process, test or procedure.  Standards are vital tools of industry and commerce.  Our present day world would be a much different place today without the myriad standards that have been developed and adopted over the years.

Why do we use standards?

We use standards to achieve a level of safety, quality, and consistency in the products and processes that affect our lives.  Simply put, standards make our lives safer, easier, and better.  They are critical to information solutions since they often provide the basis for interactions and interoperablity which are fundamental to harnessing the technologies used to implement these solutions.