Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Getting Started with Standards

It’s a tough challenge communicating standards because the audience you’re trying to reach consists of a very diverse constituency of people who use, develop, operate, manage, evaluate, purchase, or own IT systems and services.

A standardization initiative begins with a technology audit. The goal is to identify previously purchased products. Unfortunately, you'll likely discover that many prior IT purchases are, indeed, shelfware. These are product investments that are largely invisible and silent. Think of them as the proverbial elephant standing in the middle of the room. No one wants to admit they're there.

The primary reason for so much shelfware is the abundance of information silos within most enterprises. Inadequate communications results in poor buy/build/drop decisions. Worse still, the lack of tools to support IT standards causes the cycle to repeat over and over again.

Organizations can achieve huge savings by bridging the communication gap across different silos: sharing best practices, improving knowledge sharing, and increasing purchasing power when negotiating with vendors. Standards really do enable an IT organization to do more with less. Standards adherence helps drive growth by enabling the creation of simplified operations, improved utilization, and optimized cost-effective scaling. Standardization even improves security by helping to speed identification and plugging of security holes.

How do you begin? Focus on products and category trees. List and classify past product investments. Identify different tools with similar functionality. By clustering like-products together you're on the road to standardization and consolidation which will inevitably lead to measurable hard dollar savings.


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