Standardizing Your Company – Part 12: Paving the Way

In last week’s post we discussed how to modularize your rollout and give your end users bite-sized chunks to deal with rather than the whole pie at once.  At the end of the post I stated that we’d be looking at the technical side next, but then I thought of another important concept that needs to be covered first.

Picking up from last week, you’re ready to roll out Module 1 of your standards to your end users.  What’s your plan?  Send them an e-mail to announce the arrival of the new standards?  A lunch and learn?  How do you avoid the reaction of “yeah, whatever”.

Find out after the jump…

Creating great standards and documenting them well is a great accomplishment.  At this point its easy to pat yourself on the back and consider it a job well done.  Roll-out to the users seems like the after-party following the winning championship game.  Well, hate to burst your bubble yet again, but your work is just beginning…again.

You may think the rollout of your standards is a historical event sure to revolutionize your company (and you’re right) but your end users will typically not be that excited about it.  It’ll be another event or announcement amidst dozens of goings-on that month at your company.  So now it’s time for you to become a PR specialist and create some hype.

In Part 3 and Part 4 of this series, we talked about speaking with the company president (or equivalent) and middle management to pave the way for the whole standardization effort.  Well now it’s time to schedule a meeting with these folks again and start off with  “Remember those standards we talked about?…” 

Once again, the key goal of the meeting with the president is to get undeniable evidence that the company is behind the standards you are about to roll out.  If you do a good job explaining the benefits, it should be no problem.  That show of support could be a simple nod of the head, but an e-mail from the president to you or to middle management would be even better.  Wield that e-mail like a baseball bat, if you have to, as you enter your next round of meetings with middle management.

Middle management may be  a little tougher.  Yeah you’ve discussed it with them in concept before, but now something is about to happen for real.  These standards are going to change their world: the way their team works, the way their drawings look, etc.  The guard is going to start coming up and you’re going to hear things like…

  1. “Our clients require that we do it a certain way, has this been allowed for in the standards?”
  2. “We’ve got a big project right now, I’m not sure we have time for this.”
  3. “So and So is my power user.  I don’t really want to mess with his/her process.”

Have your answers ready before you head into these meetings.  For example, concern #1 shouldn’t be a problem because one of this person’s team members is on the standards committee and is sure to have considered the needs of the clients while the standards were developed.  Concern #2 won’t be a problem because the new standards will apply to new projects only.  Concern #3 is a little tougher because you’re not going to leave So and So power user alone.  If they’re doing things their own way, then it’s hurting the team and the company.  This is a good time for the good old “hit by a bus” scenario.

There will be more questions and concerns so guess what they might be ahead of time and be ready.  The main goal for this meeting is to get the middle manager to commit to ensuring that the standards are adhered to on his/her team.  I’ve said many times, it is impossible to have an intelligent argument against standardization.  Like it or not, that middle manager will know that this is a good idea and will eventually agree.  The person may not follow , but at least now you have established some accountability.

Finally, it’s time for a meeting with the end users.  After informing them that the company president and their direct supervisor have seen these standards and are 100% behind them, and expect them to be followed to the letter (you can embellish a bit here), the meeting then becomes purely technical.  What are the new standards?, How do they work?, How do the tools work?, etc.

Not up to going through a round of meetings.  Well here’s the alternative scenario: 

First project is done on the new standards.  Project Manager sees the drawings for the first time and says  “What is this crap?  Put it back the way we always do it.”  End of standards.

Next week we’ll talk about the technical side, unless I think of something else 🙂