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Glenn Bosmans design narrative: standards for developing countries

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Glenn Bosmans
9 April 2016

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My role in this story is that I was employed as a consultant by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to update a training programme on Setting National Standardization Strategies (SNSS) which I previously helped deliver between 2010 and 2012. I had five weeks to update the programme methodology and materials in order to give a regional course in March 2016 Kigali, Rwanda to staff members from national standards bodies across Africa.


The 2010-2012 programme had comprised;

  • pre-course work by participants, comprising the collection of economic and non-economic data for their country
  • a six-day regional residential workshop comprising presentations, the development of a number of country case studies (draft standardization strategies) and experience-sharing The aim of the workshop was to teach participants the ISO methodology for creating a national standardization strategy.
  • 6 months online support to participants whilst they complete the development of a 3-year national standardization plan for their country
  • An online document management system (Livelink) where participants could share their work and discuss the topic.

The workshop was run in 7 countries (Suriname, Papua New Guinea, Namibia, Argentina, Senegal, Oman and Uzbekistan) for participants from the corresponding region. The participants were senior staff from standards bodies world-wide.Overall, approximatly 75 countries participated. About half of the participating countries submitted their 3-year national standardization plan following the workshop.


The 2016 programme had to be updated and the time of the workshop reduced from six down to three days as it was felt that six days was excessive for a training course. The objectives of the classroom course would remain the same i.e. to teach the ISO methodology to a level which which would enable the participants to produce their national standards strategy following the course.


Five key changes were implemented in the run-up to the Kigali course:

  1. A written manual describing in detail the SNSS methodology was developed. The methodology was described as a sequence of twelve steps and existing materials (presentations, forms, calculation tools and guidance materials) were related to the appropriate step in the methodology. 

  2. The PowerPoint presentations were revised and updated.

  3. A case study from Guyana was used to provide a consistent example on how the methodology can be applied throughout the various stages using the appropriate tools. This included both the course work from the 2010 Paramaribo (Suriname) event in which Guyana participated, along with the final standardization strategy submitted by Guyana.

  4. Participants were encouraged to provide feedback on their experience of drafting and implementing their national standardization strategies resulting from the previous SNSS programme. A questionnaire was sent out to the participating ISO members prior to the course and the three participants from Botswana, Kenya and Sudan gave presentations on their experiences. Some of this experience addressed the need to integrate the new three-year planning approach with existing plans that were traditionally used by the NSBs and which spanned in some cases longer periods of time.

  5. It is planned to host a follow-up regional event for the Kigali participants in around six months to examine the experiences of drafting a national strategy and to assist the NSBs in moving to the next stage, which is the implementation of their plans and their regular (annual) review.

A number of key elements of the previous programme were retained:

  1. Pre-course activity: Work from the participants was requested entailing the collection of national economic and non-economic data.

  2. Post-course activity: The participants were encouraged to develop a national standardization strategy over six-month period with remote support from the trainers.

  3. An online document management system.


The course in Kigali, was attended by 20 representatives from 17 ISO members from English (and Portuguese)-speaking African countries. The new course schedule was adhered to with the addition of a number of additional topics covered.

Feedback from the course participants showed that 92% of respondents were either very or completely satisfied with the course. Participants stated that most beneficial about the course was that:

  • It was very interactive with good documentation
  • The use of case study from Guyana was beneficial.
  • The discussions and the sharing of experiences with participants who have started working on National
  • The interactions and opportunity to ask questions and have them addressed
  • The whole principle of having a national standardization strategy is critical
  • knowledge exchange and realizing that other NBS have same challenges as us.
  • Organisation
  •  Incorporating socioeconomic factors into Standardisation
  • ISO commitment to support the process of development is most beneficial.
  • Exchange of experiences with others NSBs
  • Knowlegde transfer on how to develop a national standardization plan and its key role as an impetus for action

Other suggestions for improvement included:

  • Give this training more time with enough practical exercise.
  • No of days for the workshop to be increased to 4 or 5 to reduce daily workload both for participants and the instructors
  • More practical sessions
  • The workshop was too packed with lot of information to learn. An extra day may have helped
  • This was the most useful training I have partcipated on in recent times


It will not be possible to increase the time of the course. Therefore, the contents and the schedule will need to be revised for the next course. This may include shortening some of the presentations but also could include having participants complete exercises related to the case study during the evening and reporting back to the group in the morning.

Overall, the real impact of the course will be assessed over the following 6 months when participants will produce their national standardization strategy although remote support will be available from ISO.

Glenn Bosmans
16:10 on 9 April 2016 (Edited 18:24 on 9 April 2016)

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Denise McDonough
2:10pm 19 April 2016

Your narrative was very interesting and informative - wow what a complex project and topic!

I thought your layout was just right in terms of explaining and highlighing the relevant points. Not knowing anything about the subject did not interfere with my understanding your design.

I could relate to the participants request for another day! I felt like that during the ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library). So much information thrown at us all day and then study at night to review before a short MCQ group quiz to embed the previous days learning. Sounds like that might be what you have in mind.

The hardest part was that many of silo names were so similar, more memory tricks would have been helpful. The quiz effective but not much fun!


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