International Standards are developed by ISO technical committees (TC) and subcommittees (SC) by a six-step process.
1) Proposal stage
The first step in the development of an International Standard is to confirm that a particular International Standard is needed. A new work item proposal (NP) is submitted for vote by the members of the relevant TC or SC to determine the inclusion of the work item in the programme of work.
The proposal is accepted if two-thirds majority of the P-members of the TC/SC votes in favour and if at least five P-members declare their commitment to participate actively in the project. At this stage a project leader responsible for the work item is normally appointed.
2) Preparatory stage
Usually, a working group of experts, the chairman (convener) of which is the project leader, is set up by the TC/SC for the preparation of a working draft. Successive working drafts may be considered until the working group is satisfied that it has developed the best technical solution to the problem being addressed. At this stage, the draft is forwarded to the working group's parent committee for the consensus-building phase.
3) Committee stage
As soon as a first committee draft is available, it is registered by the ISO Central Secretariat. It is distributed for comment and, if required, voting, by the P-members of the TC/SC. Successive committee drafts may be considered until consensus is reached on the technical content. Once consensus has been attained, the text is finalized for submission as a draft International Standard (DIS).
4) Enquiry stage
The draft International Standard (DIS) is circulated to all ISO member bodies by the ISO Central Secretariat for voting and comment within a period of five months. It is approved for submission as a final draft International Standard (FDIS) if a two-thirds majority of the P-members of the TC/SC are in favour and not more than one-quarter of the total number of votes cast are negative. If the approval criteria are not met, the text is returned to the originating TC/SC for further study and a revised document will again be circulated for voting and comment as a draft International Standard.
5) Approval stage
The final draft International Standard (FDIS) is circulated to all ISO member bodies by the ISO Central Secretariat for a final Yes/No vote within a period of two months. If technical comments are received during this period, they are no longer considered at this stage, but registered for consideration during a future revision of the International Standard. The text is approved as an International Standard if a two-thirds majority of the P-members of the TC/SC is in favour and not more than one-quarter of the total number of votes cast are negative. If these approval criteria are not met, the standard is referred back to the originating TC/SC for reconsideration in light of the technical reasons submitted in support of the negative votes received
6) Publication stage
Once a final draft International Standard has been approved, only minor editorial changes, if and where necessary, are introduced into the final text. The final text is sent to the ISO Central Secretariat which publishes the International Standard.
Review of International Standards (Confirmation, Revision, Withdrawal)
All International Standards are reviewed at least every five years by all the ISO member bodies. A majority of the P-members of the TC/SC decides whether an International Standard should be confirmed, revised or withdrawn
If a document with a certain degree of maturity is available at the start of a standardization project, for example a standard developed by another organization, it is possible to omit certain stages. In the so-called "Fast-track procedure", a document is submitted directly for approval as a draft International Standard (DIS) to the ISO member bodies (stage 4) or, if the document has been developed by an international standardizing body recognized by the ISO Council, as a final draft International Standard (FDIS, stage 5), without passing through the previous stages.
ISO Committee scan develop various forms of publications. Here are the differences between the various deliverables:
An International Standard provides rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or for their results, aimed at achieving the optimum degree of order in a given context. It can take many forms. Apart from product standards, other examples include: test methods, codes of practice, guideline standards and management systems standards.
A Technical Specification addresses work still under technical development, or where it is believed that there will be a future, but not immediate, possibility of agreement on an International Standard. A Technical Specification is published for immediate use, but it also provides a means to obtain feedback. The aim is that it will eventually be transformed and republished as an International Standard.
A Technical Report contains information of a different kind from that of the previous two publications. It may include data obtained from a survey, for example, or from an informative report, or information of the perceived “state of the art”.
A Publicly Available Specification is published to respond to an urgent market need, representing either the consensus of the experts within a working group, or a consensus in an organization external to ISO. As with Technical Specifications, Publicly Available Specifications are published for immediate use and also serve as a means to obtain feedback for an eventual transformation into an International Standard. Publicly Available Specifications have a maximum life of six years, after which they can be transformed into an International Standard or withdrawn.
For greater detail on how ISO deliverables are developed, refer to the publication ISO/IEC Directives, Part 1: Procedures for the technical work.