Archive for August 15, 2013

Standards and Templates

As we continue our discussions on the value of consistency, the method in which we present information can assist in ensuring clarity and comprehension. Here are some hints, on methods to present information consistently, that can be of value within your organization:

Present all “like-kinds” of information in a similar format and structure EXAMPLES: types of communication, User’s Guides, forms, marketing materials
Create a Template for each type of communication so everyone can follow the same format
Use Templates for training materials, Policies and Procedures, forms, and marketing and sales materials
Standardize the presentation of Newsletters and blogs to further “brand” your messages

So why is presenting information consistently so valuable? Here’s a short list:

Reinforces your organization’s brand
Allows the Reader to locate data more easily and quickly because it will be presented in the same format, order, and structure
Provides those who present the information with a defined approach that will reduce the time it takes to prepare the information – in other words, avoids having to “reinvent the wheel” each time information is presented

Aldridge Kerr can assist you in defining how to present your information more consistently. Contact Charlene Aldridge at 972.447.9787 or CharleneAldridge@aldridgekerr.com to discuss how we can assist you in improving how you do what you do.

Look for our next newsletter soon when we introduce the methodology we use for defining a Framework for a Policies and Procedures Initiative. And be sure to sign up for our newsletter at the right-hand side of our blog’s page.

A word by any other name

As we continue our discussions regarding the importance of consistency, let’s look at how standardizing key terms and phrases within an organization can reduce confusion for Customers, Vendors, and/or Staff.

This reminds me of a project Aldridge Kerr was working on with a Client, where we were helping to update their Users’ Guides. The User’s Guides were provided to the Client’s Customers with the products that the Client sold.

Aldridge Kerr had been working with the Client for over a year and I believed we had a pretty good understanding of their core products and services. As we sat with numerous Subject Matter Experts in a large conference room, it finally became clear to me that they referred to one of their products in two very different ways. This was creating major confusion for their Customers, their Vendors (like Aldridge Kerr), and their newer Employees.

By standardizing the reference to the products’ names throughout the Users’ Guides, the Client was able to provide a tool more easily used by all of its Readers.

Organizations often do not realize the confusion that can be created by not standardizing key terms and phrases or how the lack of consistency creates problems that could be easily avoided.

Aldridge Kerr can assist you in resolving problems that arise due to an inconsistent use of terms and phrases. Contact Charlene Aldridge at 972.447.9787 or CharleneAldridge@aldridgekerr.com to discuss how we can assist you in improving how you do what you do.

Continue to visit our blog weekly for more discussions on the value of consistency. And be sure to sign up for our newsletter at the right-hand side of our blog’s page.

What I can learn about consistency from my Mother’s recipe for potato salad

For the 4th of July celebration, I decided I would follow my Mother’s recipe to make potato salad. I grew up with fond memories of potato salad, summer picnics, and celebrations. So, as I prepared it, those fond memories came back to me. And, as I enjoyed the potato salad on the 4th, I was again reminded of those fond childhood memories.

What would have happened if I had forgotten an ingredient? Or, had replaced the mayonnaise with mustard? Or, used red onions instead of yellow? I would have ended up with a completely different result.

Family recipes need to be followed exactly if the previous results are realized. This applies as well to processes with our organizations. If we want the same result every time, then we must perform the steps within the process the exact same way, every time.

For my Mother’s potato salad, if I hadn’t followed the recipe exactly, the chance of problems would have been minimal. However, when not following a process consistently, potential problems are great:

Errors are probable
Critical information is missed
Customer dissatisfaction can occur because the outcome from the process steps may differ
Regulatory requirements may not be met

These reasons exemplify why it is necessary for an organization to establish and follow consistent processes. It allows for consistent results.

If you are having challenges surrounding inconsistent processes, contact Charlene Aldridge at 972.447.9787 or CharleneAldridge@aldridgekerr.com to discuss how we can assist you to establish clearly defined and consistent processes.

Continue to visit our blog weekly for more discussions on the value of consistency. And be sure to sign up for our newsletter at the right-hand side of our blog’s page.