also product standards that define the languages that you will use for writing software. We will not be addressing those today. We will just be addressing process standards. So I hope that gives you a little bit of an overview on what standards are, and what we'll be talking about today, which is software engineering process standards.
Carol: And I think you have a good assessment. I think that truly, people do say, "Standards?" And it's almost like you've come to do an audit on their expense account. "Isn't there anything else we can talk about? Standards? Excuse me?" So I think…And I find it interesting that fire hydrants were really the first ones. Was that the first international standard, or the first national standard?
Stan: I think it came about the same time. In Europe, they experienced this problem. And also we experienced this problem in the United States. Once we started to move out from the territory that people were comfortable in, this problem occurred, and the world felt that we had to solve it. And it came up both at the national level and at the international level.
Carol: And I never really even thought about it. But most things in our life fit together, but why do they fit together? There had to have been standards. Peter, let me ask you. Why are standards important for regular companies? For companies that are in the United States, in Canada, and throughout the world?
Peter: Well, Carol, as you know, the software industry's a young one. And the challenge of building quality products, it's now widely agreed that to do that, you need a good process. A disciplined series of steps for its development, and subsequently, its support.
Peter: Now, we feel that software standards, because it's a young industry, form a very important source of information about the software processes and procedures. And we're talking here about a process, right from the beginning, right to the end, of a product. Right from concept through retirement. And we all know that we continue to have challenges in producing quality products on time and within budget. And the competitive challenge remains in our industry, because it's a young one. So problems are continuing, Carol. And let's just take a look at an example. For example, recently a major chocolate maker whose sales for the third quarter of 1999, which was the company's peak shipping period, dropped than $150 million from the previous year. And what was the reason? A software glitch prevented the Halloween candy from being shipped. Now I'm sure that was not the intent of anyone, but here it was an innocent little programming problem that prevented a shipment. The result, of course, was that the candy maker's net income from the same period was down 19% from 1998. So our industry is being hit by software problems. And quality continues to be a challenge. So as I said, standards, or software engineering standards in particular, which is what we're talking about, enable an organization to adopt practices proven by others. Now, if it's a standard, and if you're going to use a market consensus standard, there has to be an assumption that problems are similar. And in fact, they are. I think worldwide there's a recognition now that we all share the same problems, and therefore the option for the solution is also shareable. So in a company's case, most companies are in the production of cars, in chocolates, soap powder, what have you, and using standards and the information there, and leveraging it