Standardizing Your Company – Part 10: Make it Official

In last week’s post we looked at the impact you can have as either the facilitator of the standardization process, or even just a participant, by doing your homework and being prepared.  Now that your committee has met a few times and gotten some things accomplished, how do you make it official?  Find out after the jump.

First of all, let’s establish that making committee decisions official is extremely important.  What you’re doing should last a long time and affect many “generations” of employees in your company.  If you don’t make it official, it will only last as long as the current regime.

The most important way to make things official is documentation.  I’m not talking about meeting minutes, I’m talking about an official-looking company standards document that becomes the law of the land.  This can be a challenge to author on top of the duties of actually facilitating meetings and developing standards.  To get around this, I’ve used a two-document approach that has proven to be very effective.

The first document is the company “CAD Standards” document and is very bare-bones and to the point.  It looks a lot like an engineering specification and contains only the details of what the committee has decided and laid down as law.  There are no screen shots or step by step guides.  This is the document that the committee will review and vote on (which we’ll cover below).  Because of its simplicity, it can be written up and maintained easily and because of the spec format, it takes on a very official appearance.

The second document is the company “CAD Manual”.  This is the day-to-day users guide which interprets the CAD standards document with plain language and lots of screen shots and examples.  This takes longer to write because of the all the “fluff” but that’s OK because your committee is not waiting on this document.  They’ve already voted and moved on from the last section while you’re in the process of writing the users’ version.

Once both of these documents are in action, you’ll find that the standards will be a tool exclusively for your committee and will be of no interest to the end users.  The manual, however, will get lots of use and become a daily reference.  Of course, in today’s world you’re not going to have a copy printed for every CAD user in the company…post it as PDF to your intranet, integrate it into CAD help, or whatever nifty digital delivery you can think of.  Those old dogs who like to flip pages will print their own copies if they want to kill trees.

Now for the voting part…this is easy.  Have some sort of official recorded vote at different key milestones along the way.  A good milestone is the completion of a section in your CAD standards.  Record the date of the vote, the section approved, the results, and the committee name in a section at the back of the CAD standards.  10 years from now, when the next CAD Manager reads this, it will prove that this is company policy, not the concoction of some crazy CAD Manager from the past.  Usually this will be pointed out by a veteran employee who has survived both CAD managers.  This is a good thing….it takes a lot of work and effort to develop standards and new CAD Managers typically want to establish a new order when they arrive.  Voting and documentation thereof will prevent this from happening. 

A vote is also a great symbol that a portion of the standards is complete and is ready for the big time (rollout to the users).  Not that you can’t circle back and fix a few things, but the key idea is that you’re got the green light to roll it out and the committee can’t hold that up any more.

As for the vote itself, it should be a formality and should be nearly unanimous each time.  Don’t have the committee vote if it’s still in the heat of debate.  Using a collaboration technology like Share Point is also quite helpful allowing the vote to happen over a period of a week or so.  Committee members can review the CAD standards and post their vote on their own time.  It’s a great way to get almost full participation in the vote and give people the comfort to vote when they’re ready.

That’s it for this week, next week we’ll talk about beginning to implement the standards you have developed.

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