Standardizing Your Company – Part 2: How Standardized Are You?

Over the years I’ve asked lots of folks about the level of standardization within their companies.  For those companies that I’ve had the pleasure of working with closely I’ve found that most often, the answer I get does not match what I end up seeing.  My conclusion: standardization is in the eye of the beholder.

So how do you know just how standardized your company REALLY is?  Better question, is your company standardized enough to have a smooth Civil 3D implementation with widespread acceptance of your company style set?  Well, as cheesy as it might seem, I thought one of those surveys that you often see in magazines might be a fitting litmus test.  Try it out for yourself after the jump…

First answer the following questions:

  1. Does your firm have a single set of official documented company CAD standards?
  2. If yes, do your standards contain detailed sections on layer names, layer properties, symbols, and text styles?

If your answer is “No” to either of these questions you’ve already failed.  If you’re still OK, keep going and add up your score at the end.

5=Always, 4=Usually, 3=Sometimes, 2=Seldom, 1=Never.

  1. Do your users create layers with names and properties that adhere to the company standards?
  2. Do your users create text according to standard company text styles?
  3. Do your users insert symbols according to company standards?
  4. Is the composition (appearance, arrangement, etc.) of your drawings consistent between users and between offices (if applicable)?
  5. Do your users have access to integrated tools that automate adherence to the company standards?


  • 21-25 – You’re in great shape.  Go for it!
  • 15-20 – You need to bring the 3’s or lower up to 4’s.  Your company style set will be fairly well-received, but those folks that are doing their own thing are going to have issues with the styles.
  • 10-14 – Things are looking pretty bad.  You have a documented standard but what good is it if people aren’t using/following it consistently?  You need to address adherence in your company before building a Civil 3D style set.
  • 0-9 – Your company standards are a paperweight.
  • 0 (failed on the first two questions) – Time to get to work.  You need to have documented company standards in all the areas listed.  This will hold up your company styles.  Without it, they’re just somebody’s favorite styles.  If you’ve got multiple standards (say one for each office), then that’s multiple style sets that will need to be created and supported: not recommended.

If you’ve scored low, have no fear!  Establishing solid standards in your company is NOT impossible.  It just takes the right approach and an understanding of a few key concepts, most of them having nothing to do with software.  Tune in next week to see how to begin a successful standardization effort in your company.


  1. Dustin Manning says:

    This is great. Now, only if my people skills were as great as my desire for standardization. Keep it coming Eric.

  2. Thanks! Funny you should mention people skills. You’ll be reading a lot in future posts about how important the human side of standardization really is.

  3. Jon Rizzo says:

    I think question #5 should be “Do your users take advantage of integrated tools that automate adherence to the company standards”. We have automated tools for this purpose, but their use is spotty. Some folks swear by them, while others detest them. Power users and “I know best” types always tend towards doing their own thing, regardless of how easy it is to follow the standards. Do our user HAVE access to these tools? Always. Do they use them? Sometimes.

  4. Great point, Jon and very, very true for a lot of companies. However, what I’m after here is the level of automation in place indicating just how advanced the company is in its use of standards. The first 4 questions take care of adherence on their own. If tools are in place but your folks aren’t using them, then you’ll score low on the first 4 questions but high on the last which will help boost your score a bit. I think this is as it should be.

    Thanks for the comment!

  5. […] you have been tuning in to these weekly posts then last week you would have taken the survey to determine whether your CAD standards are solid enough to proceed with a full-on Civil 3D […]