A Framework for Evaluating and Implementing Standards


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.

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