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6: Well-Developed Standards

Standards can apply to virtually every aspect of IT, from versions of desktop software to mainframe operating systems; from dataset-naming conventions to password construction; from email systems to network protocols. When properly applied, standards can simplify maintenance, shorten deployment times, and ultimately reduce costs. But proper application requires that standards be thoroughly developed and effectively enforced.

Many shops develop only those standards that are simple to deploy or easy to enforce. In this sense, these companies are similar to those that collect only the metrics that are simple to implement or easy to measure. In both cases, the real value of these activities is compromised.

World-class infrastructures, on the other hand, usually identify all stakeholders of a particular standard prior to its development, and invite them to participate in its design, implementation, and enforcement. These stakeholders typically consist of representatives of user groups most affected by the standard, including internal and external customers and suppliers. Their participation goes a long way toward ensuring buy-in, support, and compliance.

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