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How Many Standards Authors Does It Take to Establish a Standard?

Deciding exactly how many standards authors you should have, and how many is too many, is exactly what we tease out during digital governance framework definition efforts. It can be challenging to determine the exact number of subject matter experts (SMEs) to invite into the standards-writing fold:

  • Choose too few and you will likely struggle with the lack of definition and depth to your standards.
  • Choose too many and your standards may never get written as differences in opinions and endless analysis will permeate discussions.

The key to having an optimal number of authors assigned to a standard is to ensure that you have parsed the standards to a low-enough level. For example, if you were to count the SMEs required to author a standard titled “Digital Color Palette”, it would likely be a large number consisting of at least

    • Branding Team Representatives
    • Marketing Team Representatives
    • Website UI Designers
    • Mobile UI Designers
    • Social Media Channel Owners

Now consider the number of SMEs involved in defining a standard titled “Website Header Color Treatment”, which likely involves only the Website UI Designer.

The more granular the standard, the smaller and more targeted the number of authors. This allows you to focus the most specialized individual on the task, without wasting time in a larger group discussing many viewpoints which may never lead to a conclusion. In addition, it allows for easier tracking and application of best practices as the standards topic evolves.

Inevitably there will be times when the standard will require a large number of subject matter experts to at least provide input, if not author, a standard—for example, when deciding which content management system to select as the official publishing platform of the organization. In that instance, you will be faced with the necessity of involving a large and broad group of individuals. The best way to address that scenario is through an input and decision-making process, which I will address in a subsequent post. So, stay tuned!

Published in Digital Governance Blog