hile the standards-making process has remained relatively stable, the world of commerce is changing at an ever faster

pace, particularly where digital technology is disrupting business models - so fast in fact that it’s not inconceivable that a standard could be out of date before it’s published. For the past year a team in BSI has been pioneering new ways of collaborating with standards makers and users to respond to this changing landscape. “We need to be agile to respond in differing ways to a changing marketplace,” said Solutions Development Manager, Roz Hitchcock. “We want to be responsive to things that need changing, to react more quickly, but only where it is appropriate. “An example would be software

development. Software developers aren’t comfortable with conventional standards, they work with constantly changing versions and they’re used to a different way of working. “We’re looking at different products, using

different processes that work in these areas. Some industries change faster than others and we need to be able to provide interactive output to keep pace with them. “This means blurring the lines between users and standards makers because we think this will help us to respond more quickly to a changing business environment. We need to get closer to users and listen to them more.” Behind this approach is a radical rethinking of what a standard can do, extending its purpose from only being a guidance document on standards and compliance to a process that can drive innovation forward.

Roz Hitchcock Future Standards Programme

The team has put together a programme in three main areas. The first is to broaden BSI’s portfolio of services, as Roz explained. “British Standards and PASs are really well established and do a great job. However, we think there is scope for another approach, so we’re piloting the development of iterative outputs.” Iterative in this context means issuing a draft standard and getting quick feedback from users on how it is working in practice, adapting the standard in the light of those comments and reissuing a revised standard. The process is repeated until a point where the standard has matured. At that point it could be further developed into a PAS, British Standard or ISO. This process requires collaborators to work in a virtual environment using software tools as well as face-to-face meetings. “It requires a lot of intensive work, people getting together more frequently and a lot more feedback from people on the ground,” said Roz.

The second area is building the communities to collaborate in a new way. “In order to broaden our portfolio we need to


develop communities of users and standards makers and think how we can collaborate better together.” For example, with connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) the working group could tap into results from the test beds that the developers are using so standards develop alongside the technology. The third area the programme is looking at is the collaborative working environment, the software tools that work well in that environment and how people’s behaviour and the tools interact. “We’re doing a pilot with a working group at the moment. It’s not only about the tools we can use to share and collaborate, but also behaviours and how people work together,” said Roz. “Good software is important but how we train people to use it is just as critical. Seeing the behaviour of people in those situations

has taught us a lot.” The team isn’t wedded to a ‘software only’ solution, in fact they’ve found that a mix of old and new may be the best answer. “Virtual meetings are a big help but people still get a lot out of physical meetings. We want to keep what works well and be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water.” The reaction from the pilot working group has been uniformly positive. “Every time we’ve gone to a committee or working group to trial the new platform the reaction has always been positive, even where it’s not worked out” said Roz. “We know there are certain limitations with standards-making but our communities understand where we can push the boundaries and that using this approach can make the process easier and more efficient.”



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