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The Standards Making Process (SMP) is the process applied for the Technical Organization's production of standards and deliverables and the Secretariat's involvement in and interaction with the Technical Organization, the ETSI members and the ETSI National Standards Organizations.

The general conditions for the SMP are defined by the ETSI Directives, in particular the Technical Working Procedures. The Secretariat's tasks and activities in SMP are primarily defined in the Quality Management System (QMS) documentation of ETSI Operations (OPS) Division.

Process overview

[process - a structured, measured set of activities designed to produce a specified output]

The objective of the ETSI Standards Making Process (SMP) is to convert market needs for standardization in the ICT area into ETSI deliverables (specifications, standards, norms, guides, reports) used in the market place.

The input to the process is an existing (as yet known or unknown) market need for standardization. The output is the broad application of the produced deliverables in the market place.

The SMP consists of five main elements, sub-processes, with their own distinct objectives, inputs and outputs. Each sub-process is defined to the level of which operational tasks are performed, and where in the ETSI organization they are performed.

The whole ETSI organization is in one way or the other involved in either operation of the SMP or in direct or indirect support of it. The main technical activities are performed in the Technical Bodies of the Technical Organization. The main direct support to those activities is provided by ETSI Operations (OPS) Division of the ETSI Secretariat.

The operation of the SMP in the Technical Organization is governed by the ETSI Directives, in particular the Technical Working Procedures, and the ETSI Drafting Rules. The processes, tasks and procedures of the ETSI Secretariat are governed by the Secretariat's Quality Management System documentation, notably that of ETSI Operations (OPS) Division.


[inception - an act, process, or instance of beginning (as of an institution, organization, or concept)]

The times when initiatives to standardization were taken only when products and services were already available are since long gone. This is particularly the case for telecommunications where standardization precedes or goes hand in hand with the design and development processes.

The input to this sub-process is "what's going on in the marketplace", with "marketplace" having a broad interpretation, including development in the research and academic circles.

The output is a new standardization area, given to an existing or a new Technical Body. The formal output is the Terms of Reference (ToR) and/or a Project Requirements Definition (PRD) document, approved by the ETSI Board or, in the case of an ETSI Partnership Project with an external organization, approved by the ETSI General Assembly.

The process itself consists, in broad terms, of

  • identifying needs for standardization in the subject areas defined by the ETSI Statutes and Rules of Procedure
  • defining the suitable organization for such standardization within ETSI

There are various actors in this process

  • experts in the Technical Bodies, Special Committees and ISGs
  • ETSI Members
  • supported by OPS Technical Officers and staff from Innovation


[conception - the capacity, function, or process of forming ideas or abstractions or of grasping the meaning of symbols representing such ideas or abstractions; an idea or general notion; the originating of something (as an idea or plan) in the mind]

The creation of a new standardization area or ISG is manifested by the establishment of the new Technical Body or the amendment of the Terms of Reference of the Project Requirements Definition of an existing.

The identification, definition, approval and adoption of work items are the main elements of the conception phase (even if work items may have been envisaged already during the inception process).

The input is identified standardization needs in the area. These work items may either be entirely new, leading to new deliverables, or a new version of an existing deliverable ("maintenance work item").

The output is a work item, adopted by the ETSI Membership.

A proposal for a work item may come from inside or outside the Technical Body. The Technical Body may approve the work item, if at least four ETSI Members volunteer to support the work. The adoption is formally done by the ETSI Membership (the existence of new work items is made known via the ETSI Web site and Members who disagree with the item may within a 30 day period oppose its adoption into the ETSI Work Programme.


[drafting - pres part of draft - to make a preliminary or tentative version, sketch, or outline (as of a literary composition or other document)]

A work item in the ETSI Work Programme is intended to lead to one (or more) ETSI deliverable(s).

A Technical Body is free to organize its work in any way it wishes, within the rules of the Technical Working Procedures, including create Working Groups to which the tasks of drafting parts of the Technical Body's work programme are given.

The drafting usually takes place in a small team (Rapporteur Group) led by a Rapporteur. The work is largely done by "correspondence", i.e. by exchange of documents via the ETSI DocBox server and LISTSERV email exploder facilities.

When the draft by the Rapporteur Group is considered ready, the draft deliverable is handed over to the Working Group (when it exists) for approval. The formal approval for further processing or, in the case of ETSI Technical Specifications or ETSI Technical Reports, approval and adoption can only be done by the Technical Body, either at a meeting or by correspondence.

Some drafting activities for a Technical Body are performed by Specialist Task Forces (STF) located at the ETSI Secretariat.

The adaptation of specifications from external bodies (Publicly Available Specifications (PAS)) to the ETSI deliverable structure follows the same rules, but will normally be performed by the PAS provider, as defined in the Guidelines for adoption of Publicly Available Specifications.


[adoption - the taking of an outsider into a family, clan or tribal group]

While the drafting process is, in principle, the same for all ETSI deliverables, the process elements of the adoption process depend on the type of deliverable being processed.

ETSI Technical Specification, ETSI Technical Report, ETSI Special Report, ETSI Group Report  and ETSI Group Specification.

For ETSI Technical Specifications (TS),  ETSI Special Report (SR) ETSI Group Specification (GS), ETSI Group Report (GR) and ETSI Technical Reports (TR), the Technical Body approval and adoption take place at the same time (one combined decision). Publication is then the only element in the adoption process.


The Publication process element consists of final editing of the Word for Windows version of the adopted TS, TR, SR, GR or GS, archiving, and publication in PDF format. The published deliverable will then be made available for distribution via the ETSI Web server and constitute a part of the ETSI WEBstore.

ETSI Standard and ETSI Guide

After Technical Body approval, the draft ETSI Standard (ETSI ES) or ETSI Guide (ETSI EG) is after editing by OPS Technical Officer and the Editing and Document Production Centre (DPC) made available to the ETSI Membership (Full Members and Associate Members) for voting in accordance with the Membership Approval Procedure (MAP) defined in the ETSI Rules of Procedure and Technical Working Procedures.Voting with MAP is done via a Web browser interface (Member Voting application). The voting period is 60 days (in compliance with World Trade Organization timing requirement). The deliverable is adopted if at least 71 % of the  weighted member votes cast are in favour of the draft.


After adoption the deliverable is finally edited, archived and published in PDF format.

European Standard - EN

European Standards produced by ETSI, ETSI EN, are after the Technical Body approval entered into EN Approval Procedure (ENAP) stipulated by the ETSI Rules of Procedure.

EN - Approval Procedure (ENAP)

This procedure is the default one for ENs. It comprises a Public Enquiry (see Article 13.4 of the RoP) and a weighted national Vote (see Article 13.5 of the RoP) performed in a single process.


The NSOs shall perform the Public Enquiry (PE) and undertake national consultations over a period of 90 days and submit the resulting national comments and the national position (Vote) to the ETSI Secretariat by the closing date.

Without any technical comment and after successful Vote, the draft is then submitted to the ETSI Secretariat and providing it complies with the ETSI Drafting Rules (EDRs), it is published within 10 days following the Vote.

If technical comments are received during AP, the Technical Body Chairman shall, within a period of 60 days, organize the resolution of the comments received, the preparation of a revised draft, approval of the revised draft at TB level, and submission of the revised draft and resolution report to the ETSI Secretariat. If significant changes have been made, the TB Chairman may decide that the revised draft shall be submitted to another Approval Process otherwise it may be presented for direct use of the voting step (60 days) of the ENAP.

Providing that the revised draft complies with the EDRs and the resolution report has been uploaded to the ETSI Server, the ETSI Secretariat shall prepare the revised draft and resolution report for submission to the NSOs for a second Vote within 30 days.

The NSOs shall undertake national consultations over a period of 60 days and submit the resulting national position (Vote) to the ETSI Secretariat by the Vote closing date.

For more details see Article of the ETSI TWPs (1).

Combined processes

In order to make the results of the work of the Technical Body available to the market at an early stage, some of the above processes may be combined in such a way that two deliverables with identical content are processed/published in parallel.

For example, if the intention is to publish the draft as an ETSI EN, but only after application of the EN Approval Procedure (ENAP), the editing of the ETSI EN (sub-process Editing prior to  Public Enquiry) also covers the Publication of an ETSI TS with identical contents.

Parallel ETSI ES and ETSI TS processing is also possible, but the time gain in this case is less pronounced.

Note - Detailed rules for the approval procedures described above may be found in the Technical Working Procedures (TWP). TWP also defines the rules which apply to the previous regime deliverables (e.g. European Telecommunication Standards (ETS)) maintained by ETSI.


[promotion - the act of setting up or furthering a business enterprise; active furthering of sale of merchandise through advertising or other publicity]

The promotion activities address three main objectives, viz. to attract new:

  • standardization areas
  • work items
  • active members

in three main time frames, viz.

  • prior to start of standardization work (inception and conception)
  • during standardization work (drafting and adoption)
  • after publication

Process management

[management - the conducting or supervising of something (as business), esp. the executive function of planning, organizing, co-ordinating, directing, controlling, and supervising any industrial or business project or activity with responsibility for results]

The operations of ETSI and its bodies are governed by the ETSI Directives (containing ETSI Statutes, ETSI Rules of Procedure, ETSI Board Working Procedures, Powers and Functions of the Board, Terms of Reference of the Operational Co-ordination Group, and ETSI Technical Working Procedures).

The processes, tasks and procedures of the ETSI Secretariat are governed by the Secretariat's Quality Management System.

Process performance

[performance - the capacity to achieve a desired result]

The main performance characteristics of interest for the Standards Making Process are

  • timeliness
  • deliverable quality
  • cost
  • production

Timeliness addresses mainly two time-to-market aspects

  • just-in-time availability, viz. availability of the Technical Body approved  deliverable in the optimal moment, not too early, not too late
  • adoption delay, the time it takes to run the deliverable through the approval process

The first aspect is difficult to quantify, except when it's too late, and thus difficult to improve.

The second is within ETSI a matter for continuous follow-up (and improvement). Requirements are given by the Technical Working Procedures, complemented by annually reviewed objectives for the process elements operated by OPS.

Deliverable quality is a many-faceted concept, ranging from absence of spelling and document layout mistakes to acceptance as a useful standard in the marketplace.

Cost is also difficult to estimate. It is estimated that the total cost for the ETSI standardization activities is of the order of 10 times the budget for the ETSI Secretariat.

Process costs are only followed on the level of OPS activities in relation to the Technical Organization.

Production, i.e. the process output at three stages in the Adoption process, viz. Publication, Editing prior to Member Voting and Public Enquiry, and Editing prior to Voting (ENAP)  is continuously recorded in terms of number of deliverables and size of deliverables (number of pages when the corresponding files are printed).

Monthly statistics for production (per process stage as indicated above, Technical Body and type of deliverable), adoption delays (moving averages for process cycle (lead) times) for the various types of deliverables, and prediction of the production for the next twelve months is made available to the ETSI membership.

Monitoring of the conception, drafting and adoption sub-processes address for the Technical Bodies

  • composition of the work programme
  • production of deliverables (number of deliverables and their size)
  • activity level
  • delays
  • cost elements

Process reengineering

[reengineering - the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of processes to achieve dramatic improvements in critical measures of performance]

Reengineering of the processes are either part of a continuous improvement programme (which addresses both changes to the formal procedures as described by the Technical Working Procedures and changes to internal OPS working procedures) or change actions that take place (in OPS Division or in the Technical Organization) when new information tools and technologies are mature for implementation.