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To be successful in standardization, you must take on the main objections clearly and straightforwardly. Delay and loss of control are the main arguments—pre­viously they could analyze the situation and make a change or a purchase immediately. Both of these argu­ments are valid and are part of the costs of standardiza­tion. The way to address this is (1) to make sure that the benefits outweigh these costs and (2) to limit them as much as possible. This can be accomplished by putting definite time limits on responses and standardization efforts and to make sure that the cross-functional team is well represented from all areas. Lastly, you will only be successful with management dictate. Your most im­portant tasks are prior to even starting. You must con­vince management of the importance of this effort and receive their signatures because even they sometimes weaken when their pet project is evaluated.

The largest impediment to standardization is vested interests. There will always be vested interests, and ar­guing with these people is futile. There must be a non-subjective way to decide between competing systems; otherwise it becomes a battle of personalities and opin­ions. If you have a procedure and can define everything in black and white, the decisions become obvious. The only way to win is to have concurrence, top manage­ment support, and hard data. When you have this, vested interests melt away. Hard data is created by using a matrix. On one side will be a rated importance and on

the other will be a rated capability to meet the stated requirement. Take all the information of the participants and rate accordingly. This number will be the function­ality rating, which will be recorded along with cost, time to deliver, current degree of standardization, ease-of-use, cost savings, benefits, etc. This final rating is the hard data desired.

A few years ago in DaimlerChrysler Stamping-America, a realization of a problem occurred. New sys­tems were proliferating at an alarming rate, their utilization was dismal, and too much time was taken on training and retraining. Of course, knowledge of a problem is the first step in recovery. The next step was to catalog the current systems. This was not an easy or quick assignment. Once catalogued, they were assigned categories in order to evaluate them based on function­ality and overlap. Finally, priorities were assigned and cross-functional teams were put into place to take on the task. Hard data was collected for each system and decisions were made on standardization. Once these team decisions were made, a signed document from top management was issued to assure there was no second-guessing the intent. Most important, this decision was referenced in the purchasing process.


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