Routine Standardization

Doug Bellamy / August 2016

Here we go again. Will this be another series? Well, yes. There is no way I can unpack everything that “Routine Standardization” embodies in one setting. Inevitably, this month will provide one small bite, just an appetizer.
    
But, if ever you’ve found this column helpful, remain open-minded. Each course of the buffet will be served in upcoming issues and a smorgasbord of delicacies await. Who knows? Perhaps you’ll even change your diet. You will no doubt be the judge, the taste tester. I’ll do my best to be the chef.
    
Take time to digest “Routine Standardization.” You’ve never heard it before. Then again, maybe some of you have, I don’t really know. As for me, I’m just another street-smart observer. I haven’t read this anywhere. Google it; no one seems to have coined this phrase. I’ll call it mine and perhaps you’ll find it meaningful enough to make it yours.
    
There is something embodied in the one simple word “routine” when added to one not so simple word “standardization.” Admittedly they are slightly redundant, but together they are undoubtedly synergistic. Each emphasizes a different aspect of a concept that, when combined, results in a more user friendly idiom that accentuates the notion they are intended to convey.
    
Let’s begin with some definitions.
    
Routine: a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program. The word comes from the word route. That is to say, the path to a particular destination.
    
For our purposes this means how we do what we do, who does it, how long it takes and how that gets communicated both inside and outside of our organizations, companywide and customer wide.
    
When you have a routine, you have carefully thought through all of the questions, answered them and addressed all of the variables. That sounds like a mouthful, doesn’t it? Nonetheless, good eating and loaded with nutrition. It’s enough to make and keep your business healthy.
    
Now, let’s take a look at a similar but more technical word: standardization. It’s nothing to choke on. I like the definition provided by “Investopedia.” This should be easy enough to swallow, if you are full throated enough: “Standardization is a framework of agreements to which all relevant parties in an industry or organization must adhere to ensure that all processes associated with the creation of a good or performance of a service are performed within set guidelines.”
    
If that doesn’t sound good to you, you must be gorging yourself on junk food, and you and the entity you govern is flabby, just about out of breath and on life support.
    
Chew on this: Nobody like surprises unless they are celebratory. Disappointment is detrimental. We want predictability; we don’t want to be blindsided. Our customers are no exception. They want a reliable contractor who is well organized, one who consistently and safely delivers a quality product cost effectively and on time. When we provide that, we garner a larger market share that garners more volume, covers annual overhead quickly, boosts profit and makes us more competitive.
    
Experience teaches us what your employees and customers need and want to know, if we pay attention. Paying attention, living and learning as well as adapting is essential to developing routine standardization. RS is a system based on anticipatory service that answers questions and meets every need before it’s necessary. This applies across the board both internally and externally.
    
RS simplifies. It answers the all-important question, “Who will do what by when?,” and it specifies how it will be done and the overall time frame as well as any related issues to everyone who needs to know.
    
While I will give you a few hints, I won’t provide the proprietary info that fully describes our organizational advantage. For example: Our customers are provided a spreadsheet that allows them to self-schedule—a schedule we live and die by. They can select a start date and know with certainty how to schedule around us. How is it that we can provide a year-round schedule for customers? By determining our processes through RS. We know organizationally who will do what, how it should be done, how long they have to accomplish their tasks and when we will deliver the finished product to the customer
    
Many think that such a commitment is unthinkable. We are over-promising. However, you don’t overpromise unless you under deliver. If we deliver—and we do 99.9 percent of the time, customers love it. They can rely on us to do what we say.
    
Delivering consistently on such commitments builds customer confidence. Confident customers leave you alone. They feel no need to micromanage you. That’s a huge relief to both your company and your customers. You have everything under control, and they know that. Your organizational and operational approach is proof.
    
We are a long way from serving dessert, but that should serve as tease enough for the appetizer I’ve promised.

Doug Bellamy is former president of Innovative Drywall Systems Inc. dba Alta Drywall, Escondido, Calif. Visit him on LinkedIn or contact him at doug@altadrywall.com.