The Concept

Policies, Procedures, Charters, Business Plans, and the like are all meant to guide an organization and keep it focused on its primary objectives. As the organization grows so do the systems put in place to manage it. In an ideal scenario a single enterprise system may be utilized that forces consistency across all aspects of the organization. However, few corporations have the resources to deploy such a system during the startup period. As such, they start small and grow over time. Technology never seems to advance at the same pace and in every area thus, one team’s needs are managed at a different technological level or system than another’s. Nevertheless, there still exists commonalities that must be maintained. Without established standardization in the essential elements of the business, systems can become disordered making data sharing and integration a difficult task.

After assessing the systems-of-record used in your organization ask a few basic questions.

  • Can the system that one team uses share data with another in an efficient and effective manner?
  • Are specific products, regions, assets, etc. depicted differently between systems-or-record?
  • Are end-users utilizing an application without clearly defined standards?
  • If standards and procedures are in place are they outdated or based upon a legacy solution?

If yes, then perhaps a renewed approach to your standards and procedures are warranted. Perhaps consolidating or integrating one or more systems-or-record can increase the integrity of your data and add efficiency to your processes. If so, consider the following in developing and establishing an integrated or federated approach to data management.

5 Levels of Standardization & Systems Integration

  • Argue

To argue may invoke negative cogitations but it shouldn’t. To debate and reason with another is by definition presenting an argument. It is imperative to make sure every voice is heard because every voice counts. You’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that you have the right people performing their purposeful task. Thus, to gain a thorough understanding they must participate in the discussion. Once the ground rules are set each may put forth their reasons for, or against, a given topic. Some may refer to this as a Challenge Session, or Debate. Call it what you will – just be sure to consider as many points of view as you can. The final result will not only form a reasoned response but also provide a defensible position that few can dispute.

  • Characterize

This phase will require the most resources and should have oversight from a knowledgeable project manager or subject matter expert. Once completed all work will be defined and initiated with the end result kept clearly in view. Success in this area will be directly proportional to the amount of leadership and guidance provided for the characteristics of the tasks identified.

Remaining at the argument stage will only serve to confuse and divide your team. You must progress beyond the arguments to characterize each response with distinctive traits and qualities so as to define them as either progressive or regressive. (There are seldom times when maintaining a stationary position will result in positive development.) Therefore, for each sustainable argument an objective should be characterized that defines a path forward. Often times this will involve clear action items or tasks that include all concerned team members and subject matter experts (from within and/or outside the organization).

  • Exhibit

Upon completion of the objectives and tasks the results must be presented, or exhibited, to all concerned parties and vetted accordingly. As each stage builds upon the other the ability to exhibit a solution to a well characterized and defined argument will build confidence in your team and establish endorsement throughout the organization. By successfully exhibiting the results of each task you are providing proof of concept that is credible and authoritative.

  • Institutionalize 

No process or standard can be said to be complete until is well-established and embedded into the structure of an organization and has the support of everyone from Leadership to the End-User.

  • Train

This process and the resources associated with it must remain functional and dynamic. As technology and organizational needs evolve so should this effort. In doing so you may find the need to restart the process with renewed arguments and characteristics that reshapes your Team’s focus and goals thus propelling it forward.

To complete the process of instituting application standards and/or system integration everyone involved must be adequately trained for their assigned roles and responsibilities. All supporting documentation, curriculum, and training materials should be reviewed during this process and adjusted according to the needs and assessment of the target audiences.

There are many resources available to aid any organization through change management. The suggestions laid out on this page are only meant as fundamental points of interest to help you navigate the task of standardization with end result that you A.C.E. I.T.