Dust Off Those Standards

25 Jan, 2012 By: Robert Green

CAD Manager's Toolbox: Increase user compliance by whipping your wordy, outdated standards into shape.

I find revamping standards as much of a hassle as you probably do, yet every year or so I force myself to go through the process. I encourage you to start the year off right by evaluating your CAD standards — see what works, what doesn't, and why.

Here's how I tackle this chore:

Trim away the excess. If it bores you to read through your overly lengthy standards, you know your users will be bored too. Take a red pen to your standards and pare them down to the bare minimum!

Add an index. After you've made your standards as concise as possible, break the document into topical sections and provide a good index. If users can find what they need in the index, they're likely to read the section that applies to them. If not, they won't.

Don't editorialize, pictorialize. Don't rely on paragraphs of text to lead a user through a process if software screenshots can do the job. A picture truly is worth a thousand words.

Send it out for review. Pass your revised standards document around to some trusted users, project managers, and designers to collect their comments. Take their feedback seriously, and ask them follow-up questions about how to make your standards better.

Once your changes have been made, do a "re-rollout" of your standards to everyone. Don't forget to brag a little about how much easier to read and follow they are.

Give it a little time and effort — you'll be surprised how quickly you can update your standards and get more people to use them. Sometimes the hardest part is simply getting the motivation to get started!

Do you have a question or tip for theCAD Manager's Newsletter? Send it to me at; if I use it in the newsletter you'll receive a cool Cadalyst prize!

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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