Look to Corporate Standards to Guide Your Organization
Large organizations typically have people working across the globe in distributed development teams. These professionals are highly skilled and bring with them significant experience and capabilities, but it is typical for these teams to each solve the same set of challenges for themselves, without communicating with the other dispersed teams. They act as if they are in completely isolated silos. One approach to solving this problem is to establish corporate standards.
The use of industry standards from the IEEE and ISO are often limited to organizations in defense and government work that are contractually required to use them. This is unfortunate, because industry standards are developed by a wide array of experts who propose guidelines from their deep level of experience after a collaborative and transparent review process.
Still, any organization can benefit from tapping the methodology from the standards world to provide practical guidance to their technology teams on industry best practices. Here’s how you can go about creating your own corporate standards to help guide your technology organization.
The first step is to identify your subject matter experts (SMEs) who can help decide on the content and scope of the standard. You then should hold working sessions to discuss and document existing practices. Providing a way to call in to the meeting and see the documents via a screen share helps ensure there is maximum participation, even if everyone cannot travel to the same location. However, colocation does facilitate better communication, so if you can, get all your SMEs in one room for better results.
You should end up with a working document, which you can circulate to key stakeholders for their comments. You may have to control the dynamics to make sure people don’t go off onto tangents or just disagree on principle. Your meeting facilitator needs to be skilled at keeping the discussions on topic and should ensure that everything discussed is documented for review later.
Once your document has reached an acceptable level of maturity, you need to decide who possesses the positional power to declare that the standard is complete and to require that everyone adhere to its guidance. You also should anticipate the need for change by establishing a software engineering process group to meet regularly and consider changes to the standard.
Corporate standards can help your team achieve success, especially when they are developed in a collaborative and transparent way. Consider having your organization outline its own guidelines for processes and quality benchmarks.