as possible. This ensures a more successful implementation of the standard. These building blocks provide a framework for establishing a standard and ensure the standard has perceived value. The building block levels are (but need not be limited to):
- Standard is defined
- Standard has an implementable practice to support it
- Standard has a policy that enforces it
- Standard is being verified that folks are complying with it
- Standard has metrics indicating the level of compliance to it
- Standard and compliance metrics are being used by Senior Management to manage the organization
Keep in mind, that this should be a flexible framework. The levels in between the "Define" and "Manage" do not have to be in the exact order. If the policy gets established before the practice to implement it, that is fine, too.
The first level is to define and document the standard that is needed for the organization. A standard is typically described as an explicit requirement that must be met. One example can be that all of the applications under development must use a specific requirements tool. Another example can be that the company must follow a set of financial processes.
While it is a good start to define a standard, it is much more helpful to provide a practice on how to implement a standard. A practice may include (but is not limited to) more guidance including the problem the standard is trying solve, the goals of the standard, the procedure for implementing the standard, the tools needed to implement the standard, and training on implementing the standard, and so on. Expanding the first example (from "Define"), the practice would provide the procedure to use a requirements tool and provide a tool infrastructure for easier deployment and usage.
Defining a standard and providing a practice to implement it will help those that may already see value in the standard. However, unless there is an organizational policy that states the clear organizational need to follow the standard, then only a handful of people may follow it. This policy should state clearly the roles in the organization that should implement the standard and the scope of the standard deployment. The policy must also be announced and supported by Senior Management in order for the standard to be taken seriously. Expanding the example, the policy would explicitly state that all project teams must follow the technology standard of using a specific requirements tool.
Combining Standard, Practice, and Policy
If possible, establishing the standard, practice, and policy at roughly the same time is a great approach. When the standard is introduced, there is a practice and policy that supports it.
Now that the standard has been defined, there is a supporting practice to help implement it, and there is a policy in place supported by senior management, this implies an expectation of usage. Establishing a way to verify if the standard is being followed is needed. The verification process needs to be implemented by folks independent of usage to assure compliance. This will identify in an objective way if people are following the standard (or which parts of the standard they not following). If people within the organization know that there is a verification process in place that will check on them, then they will have much more motivation to meet the standard. Expanding the example, an independent verification role will verify if project teams are using the requirements tools to capture requirements and therefore aligning with the standard.
Now that we have a verification process for