Standardizing Your Company – Part 6: Forming a Strong Committee

In last week’s post we arrived at the conclusion that a standards committee is a necessary evil. In next week’s post I hope to help you discover that standards committees really don’t have to be evil at all and can actually be quite helpful and essential to the process. For now, though, lets talk about how to build a good committee.

Lets talk about size first. A committee that is too small won’t represent enough of the company. Too large and you’ve got pandemonium at your meetings. My recommendation is to set the size of your committee at 10% of the number of end users in your company. For small companies, the minimum should be 3.

Now for selecting members. If you feel that you know your users best, then you should be the one to hand-pick the committee members. If not, then you’ll need to rely on the supervisors of potential members for their guidance in selecting good candidates. The criteria for selecting members is best summed up by the following Do’s and Don’ts.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t limit your standards committee to power users. You don’t want a room full of people who just want to write lisp routines and play with the “cool” new features.
  • Don’t limit membership to veterans. New employees often have great insight having come from a different environment.
  • Don’t exclude management. Their insights are in some cases more important than the technical side. Although, if you do invite folks from management make sure they have some understanding of CAD.
  • Don’t exclude your “tough customers”. That person who ties up lots of your time asking difficult questions or wanting things a certain way is better on your side than not.

Do’s

  • Include users with all levels of CAD expertise. It will help keep you from developing standards that are too complex for anyone but power users to follow.
  • Include folks who will tend to be looking out for the good of the company, and who tend to do the right thing.
  • Include new and veteran employees. You know the saying about old dogs.
  • Include middle management folks. You need the insight of how your proposed standards are going to impact business and how they will be perceived by the folks who aren’t actually doing the CAD work.
  • Remember that all of your committee members are going to be your internal champions for making sure the standards are actually used when they out.
  • Include members from all departments in your company, even if they are small.

Assembling a good group of people is critical to the success of your standardization effort. The natural approach is to gather up all the power users but as you can see by the suggestions above, a good committee is actually a very diverse mixture of skill level, years of service, and company role.

Next week we’ll talk about how to get things done efficiently once your committee starts to meet.

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