Standardizing Your Company – Part 5: Committee or No Committee?

In last week’s post we finished up our discussion on company support, top to bottom.  If you’re certain that you have the backing of management, and at least most of your users are on board with the concept of standardizing your company, it’s time to get started building your new company standards.  Before we go on, I just have to emphasize the importance of this one more time.  DO NOT PROCEED without this support.  It will be an exercise in futility.  If you spend months building company standards only to have a PM dismiss them for personal preference, then it was all in vain.

So you’re at a crossroads.  It’s time to start compiling and building and refining your company standards and you have two choices.

You could develop all of this quickly in the quiet comfort of your own office, or you could assemble a committee and spend countless hours in the board room arguing over what color the dimension layer should be.  As with most tough decisions, the right one is the one you’d rather avoid.

A standards committee is a must for developing your standards, but possibly not for the reasons you’re thinking.

  1. Even if you’re a company veteran, you don’t know everything about every project type and every client your company is exposed to.  You need a diverse bank of experience to draw from and make decisions based upon.
  2. When it comes time for the standards to be rolled out, you’re going to need folks in place to see that they are actually applied in day-to-day work.  Your committee members will be a team of standards experts that are going to disperse among your users to apply peer pressure and and answer questions.
  3. You need the standards to be a company product, not your own personal product.  An unruly user is less likely to go against something his cube-buddy helped develop compared to something you developed solo.
  4. You need to be sure that all company needs are represented.  It’s only natural for you to develop standards that cater to your own roots.  If you “grew up” doing site design, your solo version of the standards is going to lack a bit in the stuff that applies to Residential or Transportation.  If you’ve done the majority of your production work under a certain PM, your ways are going to be reminiscent of that person and the other PM’s will be neglected a bit.

The list could go on and on.  Like it or not, a committee is a must.  It will lengthen the process, it will make it more difficult, you will eat lots of pizza, but at the end of it all you will produce a comprehensive set of standards that is already backed and accepted by a good chunk of your users.

Next week we’ll take a look at how to assemble a great standards committee.


  1. Damn I hated those meetings.

  2. I hear ya, John. But, in a future post I’ll be sharing some really good tips about how to avoid the things that make those meetings so dreadful, and more importantly…how to make them productive.

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