What is Standardization?
Standardization is the process of creating protocols to guide the creation of a good or service based on the consensus of all the relevant parties in the industry. The standards ensure that goods or services produced in a specific industry come with consistent quality and are equivalent to other comparable products or services in the same industry.
Standardization also helps in ensuring the safety, interoperability, and compatibility of goods produced. Some of the parties involved in the standardization processes include users, interest groups, governments, corporations, and standards organizations.
Goal of Standardization
The goal of standardization is to ensure uniformity to certain practices within the industry. Standardization focuses on the product creation process, operations of businesses, technology in use, and how specific compulsory processes are instituted or carried out.
One example of standardization is the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) that companies must follow when preparing or reporting their annual financial statements. They ensure uniformity in how financial reports are prepared and improve the clarity of the financial information presented to the public.
Standardization of Business Processes
The most common form of standardization is in the area of business processes. Typically, companies with a global presence or operate franchises utilize detailed process documentation to ensure that the quality of their product or service is the same regardless of the geographical location that a customer visits.
Businesses engaged in manufacturing often form framework agreements that ensure that the products they produce meet the same specifications as other businesses in the industry. The standardization may cover products sold in one geographical location or in the global arena.
For example, manufacturers of LED and LCD television follow certain product standardization rules that ensure that the products sold in the market have similar features. The standards cover specifications such as screen resolution and size, inputs (HDMI port, USB ports, etc.), internet connectivity, etc. The standards are continually modified to mirror advancements in technology.
Standardization among manufacturing businesses ensures that customers get similar products regardless of the manufacturer or geographical location of the store where customers buy from.
Standardizing products that are available in various states, countries, or continents ensures that customers receive the same product or service regardless of where they buy it. This applies to big brands that customers are already very familiar with, where any change in the product would likely be noticed immediately. One example of a company that uses this form of standardization is Coca-Cola.
Companies that operate globally also standardize their advertising, maintaining a uniform design theme across the different markets as a way of reinforcing its brand image among its global audience. The same design theme and color scheme are applied even when the product packaging is presented in a different language.
Standardization of Trading
Standardization in the trading industry is set by the exchanges on which the security is traded. This provides greater liquidity for investors. It also makes the trading process the same for all investors.
For example, standardization in the options markets means that exchanges set standards as a way of establishing the minimum trade bases for contracts. In options trading, every option contract that an investor holds represents 100 shares of the underlying stock.
In the futures trading market, the size of the futures contract depends on the type of asset that is being traded. Futures contracts are available on different types of assets, such as commodities, currencies, and stock exchange indexes.
Effects of Standardization
Some of the effects of standardization include the following:
When competing firms standardize their products and services, the competition shifts from integrated systems to individual components. This means that companies whose main selling point is the integrated system must change strategy to focus on the individual components of the system.
Companies can create a competitive advantage by selling components or subsystems of the integrated system to other businesses that are compatible with their business model.
One of the benefits that consumers reap from standardization is increased compatibility and interoperability between products. For example, when communication gadgets and services are standardized, consumers can share information across a large number of people who are not limited by a specific service or product.
Also, consumers can match up the components of a system in a way that fits their specific preferences. However, standardization can also adversely affect consumers. For one, it means that options will be limited for consumers. Also, standardization may limit producers from providing more value to consumers than their competitors, because they are constrained by the standards.
The effect of standardization on technology is mixed, and it may yield both positive and negative outcomes. The positive effect of standardization is that it can help weed out incompatible technologies in the market that slow the growth of technology. There will be an increased uptake of standardized technology, which will spur the growth of the technology industry. A familiar example of standardized technology is that of software programs that are compatible with the Windows operating system.
On the downside, standardizing technology restricts the innovative quality of new and existing technologies and may reduce competition.
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