Standards are implemented by organizations for many reasons, such as:
- Meeting or exceeding customer needs;
- Addressing marketplace demands;
- Ensuring consumer confidence;
- Complying with regulations; and/or
- Implementing industry best practices.
An organization can choose to develop and apply its own standards. However, a more strategic approach is to use a national, international or foreign standard that fits its needs. Alternatively, an organization can forward a standard it has developed as the basis for a national or international standard.
Once an organization has decided upon a standard that fits its needs, it must take steps to prove that it in fact lives up to the requirements of that standard. This process, called conformity assessment, can be conducted by a:
- Supplier (first party);
- Purchaser (second party); or
- Independent organization (third party).
All three of these choices are acceptable forms of conformity assessment. However, in an increasingly competitive marketplace - where customers and clients have a greater range of choice than ever - third-party assessment is often seen as the most credible choice. Also, accredited test laboratories are increasingly being used to provide credible support to first- and second-party assessments.
The Standards Council of Canada (SCC) does not provide these types of conformity assessment services; instead, it accredits the organizations that do. Accreditation by the SCC is formal recognition that the organizations have proven themselves to be qualified to undertake the conformity assessment role they have chosen.