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ISO 8601 and its use: Date and Time Formats

Discussion in 'Other Quality and Business Related Topics' started by Mikishots, Aug 18, 2015.

  1. Mikishots

    Mikishots Member

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    In each of the companies I've worked at, one of the simplest standards also seems to be one of the most poorly implemented - date format. ISO 8601 was introduced back in the 1980's to set a global standard numeric format for dates (YYYY-MM-DD), among other things. All fine and dandy until you get a group of people together working in one company that had various formats drilled into their heads at an early age (MM-DD-YYYY, YY-DD-MM, DD-MMM-YY, etc.), that seemed to originate from their location in the world. Every single one of these people held a strong conviction that their method was the only correct one, and anyone who didn't agree was only creating problems for themselves.

    The number of variations is mind-blowing; toss in the date formats that may be enforced by some purchased software packages (our ERP date format is TRULY bizarre, but I can't change it), and it can be a show-stopper depending on the situation. It's hopefully plain to see that for dates in the first twelve days of any month, confusion sets in - no one can reliably tell what the date actually is. Does that "09" mean the 9th, or September? When I try to enforce a standard through meetings, preventive actions or other means and I'm typically met with "Don't you have anything more important to do?" Terrible attitude, but....o_O

    How do you handle this annoying issue in your workplace?
     

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    Last edited: Aug 18, 2015
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  2. Claes Gefvenberg

    Claes Gefvenberg Moderator Staff Member

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    I feel your pain, and we suffer from the same malady:

    This may come as a surprise to you, but Sweden is in fact using the ISO 8601 date format (YYYY-MM-DD) almost without exception, and have done so since the 80's. This is fine as long as we stick to domestic communication, where misunderstandings are few and far between. Unfortunately we get the impression that we are the only ones using this format. :rolleyes: In order to avoid the otherwise unavoidable mistakes Mikishots pointed out, most of us use the DD-Month-YYYY format in any international communication. Thus: today would be 2015-08-19, but for international communication we would use 19 Aug 2015. :cool:
     
  3. Candi1024

    Candi1024 Well-Known Member

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    Culture here uses dd/mm/yy. I was taught to use dd-MMM-yyyy. I think as long as you use the first three capital letters for month, use dashes, and and maybe even the 4 digit year, then it should at least be interpretable.

    At my current place of employement, there is no documented preferred convention.
     
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  4. Claes Gefvenberg

    Claes Gefvenberg Moderator Staff Member

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    Exactly, and that, of course must be the overall aim.
    Likewise, but we manage anyway, due to the fact that the whole country uses the format specified in ISO 8601. Even our social security no's are based on that format.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2015
  5. Mikishots

    Mikishots Member

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    Thanks so much for your input, it's good to know that I'm not alone in this.
     
  6. PaulJSmith

    PaulJSmith Well-Known Member

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    I grew up on the MMM dd, yyyy and mm/dd/yy formats. It was only after I entered into the business world that I discovered there are nearly as many variations in date format as there are humans on the planet. I quickly settled into dd-MMM-yyyy as the seemingly easiest to self-explain. No idea why, just did. It's the format I still use most to this day.
     
  7. Mikishots

    Mikishots Member

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    Personally, it's the one I like to use as well because there is no ambiguity, even if I'm corresponding with someone in a country where English is not the first language.

    When one person is doing it right and everyone else is doing it wrong, guess who gets hung?

    So...I'm an auditor that willingly goes against an established ISO standard. Blasphemous. :p
     
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  8. atearth

    atearth Member

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    When I write dates I tend to use - over /

    In the past it was dd-mm-yy I see the advantages of changing it to dd-mmm-yy and now think it should be dd-mmm-yyy
     

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