Promote Participation

Promote Participation

Even if SMEs are aware of standards in general, they may not realise that they can actively participate and influence the development of specific standards.


By participating in the standardization process, SMEs can ensure that new or revised standards address their current and future needs. They may also benefit from having access to knowledge about the latest developments and innovations – for example regarding new technologies.


The more SMEs get involved in the European Standardization System, the better standards will be adapted to the specific requirements of SMEs, and the more SMEs will use these standards. Therefore, it is also beneficial for the system as a whole to promote an increased participation of SMEs in the standardization process.

Why should SMEs participate?

Including SMEs as users of standards already in their development will lead to standards that are more user-friendly, shorter and easier for SMEs to deal with. Standardization allows companies access to the state of the art in technology and thereby strengthens their innovation capacity. It creates a level playing field for the market access of companies and the introduction of new products and services.

What is the impact of SMEs’ participation?

  • Influencing the content of standards
  • Networking with other stakeholders 
  • Being informed of developments at an early stage 
  • Access to knowledge and expertise

Who should promote SMEs’ participation?

  • Standards organisations
  • Business associations
  • Chambers of commerce
  • Sectoral organisations
  • Governments and public authorities

How can SMES’ participation be promoted?

  • Invite SMEs to get involved in standardization activities
  • Boost the capacity of SMEs by providing them with the necessary knowledge and resources
  • Make it easier for SMEs to participate in technical work
  • Promote and providing more information about new standardization activities
  • Involve business associations and/or other organisations that represent SMEs

Here is more detailed information on five ways you can support SMEs that participate in standardization:

A good stakeholder analysis is necessary to determine which companies and organisations could have an interest in the development of any particular standard. A structured approach (methodology) towards stakeholder analysis is important so that all interested parties may be consulted.


Therefore, standards organisations should conduct regular surveys of the stakeholder landscape to identify which organisations are active in each sector.


A good knowledge of interested stakeholders is also necessary for ensuring a successful dissemination and implementation of standards in the market.


Many SMEs rely on business associations (such as sectoral organisations, chambers of commerce, etc.) to provide them with general and specific information on standards and standardisation, and also to facilitate their participation in standardization.


Business associations can act as intermediaries between SMEs and national standards organisations and facilitate the flow of information in both directions. In particular, they can help to ensure that market needs and SMEs’ concerns are taken into account during the standardization process.


In some cases, national standards organisations may wish to formalise their relations with certain business associations, for example by means of membership or partnership agreements. In such cases, the division of responsibilities between the parties should be made clear.


Possible activities may include:

  • Analysing the content of new draft standards and highlighting the most important points for SMEs from a professional/technical point of view.
  • Liaising with experts in SMEs to inform them about draft standards being developed at European or international level and invite them to give input.
  • Gathering comments and feedback to discuss in standardization committees.
  • Communicating specific concerns and requests to European or international level.
  • Analysing existing standards and addressing difficulties regarding compliance.
  • Organising workshops/seminars that focus on specific standards or sectors.
  • Providing SMEs with information about standards and standardization using various means of communication (personal contacts, newsletters, brochures, web pages, workshops, articles in professional and specialist media, CD-ROMs, etc.).


National standards organisations and business associations should work together to provide training sessions and workshops that enable individual experts, including SME representatives, to acquire and develop the knowledge and skills they need to make an effective contribution to standardization activities at European and/or international levels.


Knowledge of the formal procedures is an essential requirement for participating successfully in standardization. Individual members of CEN and CENELEC technical committees also need specific knowledge and skills so they can effectively interact and collaborate with their fellow committee members from many different countries and cultural backgrounds.


Training sessions should be adapted to the needs of specific target groups, depending on their level of experience, previous knowledge, and particular interests.


Follow those steps to develop a training session:

  • Define target group
  • Identify the information needs of the target group
  • Decide on topics and methods (media, workshop)
  • Develop suitable training materials
  • Decide on the dates and venues
  • Invite members of the target group (contacts, advertising)
  • Use feedback to improve the training


SMEs and other organisations that have benefited from the use of standards and/or have successfully participated in standardization activities should be invited to share their experiences. This could be done, for example, by providing testimonials in the form of videos that could be published online and quoted in relevant publications and marketing materials.


Such testimonials would be a valuable means of providing information to other SMEs and potential users of standards, as well as explaining the benefits and added value of using standards and/or taking part in standardization activities. Communication based on personal experiences and concrete examples is an effective way to raise levels of awareness and interest among SMEs and other potential users about standards and standardization.


Before a standard is finally adopted, it is submitted to public enquiry as draft standard. Everybody is free to give their opinion on this document and to submit comments or proposals for how the draft standard could be improved.


Standards organisations should make it easier for SMEs to learn about and comment on draft standards by developing and providing suitable online tools. SMEs should be informed about draft standards that might interest them (via business associations and other channels), and should also be encouraged to submit comments and suggestions on the content of draft standards.


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