Are you a baseball fan? You can view standardization in the same light you might view a pre-game warm up. If you’re one of those people who likes to get to a baseball game a little early (and as Nationals fans, we like to count ourselves among those ranks), you know that a lot of the fun is taking in some batting practice, watching the pitchers and catchers warm up and the fielders throw it around the horn, or seeing the team play a little pepper.
IT has its own version of pepper — a kind of preliminary phase where leadership and teams get together and get on the same proverbial page with respect to the implementation mission. The point is to determine what success will look like, and to develop a set of unified, repeatable IT management and communications practices that everyone within the organization understands. It’s every player on the team getting on the same wavelength, understanding what the game plan is going to be, using the same hand signals, and determining and confirming his or her respective assignments.
But it’s important to realize that standardization goes beyond just agreeing on process or handing out responsibilities. Tools, metrics, and decision-making methods also need to be addressed. Before the players take the field, the managers are the ones making sure the right strategy is in place, and the best lineup will be in the game. In other words, standardization requires clear and decisive leadership.
Standardization is an IT imperative because it gives everyone the same point of departure. Knowing where we all want to go is the easy part. We want an optimally performing IT solution that’s going to meet any number of organizational needs. Spell it out to folks like that, and everyone is eager to get on board; we know the goal. Having agreed-upon standards in place means that we all move forward as one with the same intent and intensity, and that we’re remaining interconnected so that we reach the optimization goal in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible.