Management

Spring into Standards, Part 4: Sell, Train, Audit, and Enforce to Make Standards Work!

9 May, 2018 By: Robert Green

CAD Manager Column: The work of CAD standards doesn’t end with implementation — you must stay vigilant as you enter “maintenance mode.”


In the first three installments of this Spring into Standards series, I discussed revamping your CAD standards, making decisions, and rolling out your new standards. I hope you followed along with these previous installments to plan your standards refresh; if not, you may want to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 now to have proper context for this installment.

In this final installment of Spring into Standards, we’ll focus on what comes after the initial rollout: standards maintenance. Much like any other change in a work environment, I find that making standards a permanent part of the culture requires a continual effort on the CAD manager’s part. In this edition of the CAD Manager’s Newsletter, I’ll share some strategies for maintaining momentum in your standards rollout so users embrace new standards and don’t backslide into old habits. Here goes.

You Have to STAE at It

What do I mean by STAE? It is an acronym for Sell, Train, Audit, Enforce that seems to get people’s attention.

You’ll recall that in Part 3 of this series, I advised CAD managers to continue evangelizing about standards, even while training users and during implementation. I stand by this concept wholeheartedly, but at what point should cheering about standards give way to the practical business of making them work? Real-world issues — such as project managers saying, “Don’t worry about the standards, just get the work done!” — can be very hard to overcome. Here’s where STAE comes in:

  • Sell. As you interact with users, always sell them on the benefits of standardization: Fewer clicks, fewer picks, and fewer mistakes mean work gets done more quickly and efficiently.
     
  • Train. If users have doubts about using the standard, show them how easy it is. You can train one-on-one, in small groups, at lunch-and-learns — wherever. Quite often, you’ll find that to sell someone on a standard, you may have to train them several times so they feel comfortable with it and see its benefits.
     
  • Audit. Are users following standards, or are they quietly violating them again? The only way to know is to check file sets periodically to see who is following the rules — and who isn’t.

  • Enforce. If auditing reveals that a user isn’t following the new standard, despite your thorough efforts to sell and train, it is time to enforce the rules.

Now that we know the basic components of STAE, let’s break each one down into action items you can use as you work to make your standards stick within your organization.

Sell: Provide Persuasive Reasons

If users are questioning your standards, the most likely reason for their resistance that they aren’t comfortable changing their work practices. Selling is different than evangelism, because selling isn’t just about building enthusiasm; it is about convincing people to buy into a concept or behavior with their time or money. So you’ll need to provide some concrete reasons for users to invest their time in learning the standards.

I’ve found the following approaches to selling standards work well:

  • Demonstrate the contrast. Show users an example of how the old way of doing things takes longer than the new, standard way. You can talk users through this process, or do a show-and-tell session with them. Most users will adopt a new method once they understand it and see how it will save them time.
     
  • Explain the ease of exchange. Show them how following standards will make interchanging drawings, models, parts, families, etc. much easier. Equate lack of standards with rework time and errors, and users will start to see the light.
     
  • Stress the lack of stress. Say something like, “If everybody followed the standards, we would be done a lot earlier and be more relaxed — heck, we may even get to go home on time!”

Train: Use Real-World Context

For those users who are having trouble committing to a standard even after your efforts to sell them on it, you must demonstrate the practicality of the standard through training. If they learn by using actual files from a real-world project, users will come to understand actual usage scenarios.

The key to training is to keep everything conversational, and to let users acclimate to the changed processes gradually. You may find that informal training in very short bursts works well, or you may want to get several people together in a conference room and go over everything at once.

But no matter which method you choose, the point is that you must train. In my experience, a lack of training means lack of adoption.

 

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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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