Standards and Practices – A Call to Action

At the kickoff of Standards and Practices Day at the 2019 International conference in Virginia, I talked about donuts.

An internationally known chain of donut shops noticed their sales dropping. To find out why, they asked their customers if there was a problem with the donuts. The answer was no – the donuts were as good as ever. But sales kept dropping. Then the donut shop asked a different question: what do the customers think of their donut shop experience? The response surprised them: the donuts were great, but the coffee was bad. That’s something the owners had not considered: get better coffee, sell more donuts. And it was only learned because the donut shop asked an open-ended question, allowing the customers to communicate what was important to them.

SAWE Recommended Practices (RPs) are a vital resource available to a wide range of customers. Mass Properties Engineers refer to them. Companies and government agencies require their use. But there are significant gaps in what our RPs cover. As the new Vice President of Standards and Practices, my role is to shepherd the development of new RPs and the revision of existing ones to ensure they stay relevant to our customers.

But what to do first?

At the International conference I asked all of the Industry Committees to emulate the donut shop and  ask their customers what is important to them. Understanding their customer priorities will allow the Industry Committees to know which RPs to focus on and will motivate them to complete their tasks on time.

My call to action is this:

By the end of 2019, each Industry Committee should document their customers’ needs, the Committee’s priorities, and the time-based plans to create Recommended Practices which support their customers’ needs.

This does not mean that all current work should stop. A small number of RPs, such as those being converted to ANSI standards, have been identified by the SAWE  executive as high priorities and should continue to be worked. I have asked the Industry Committees to review and update the development schedule for each of these to ensure they will be published on time to meet the customer needs.

Developing and updating Recommended Practices is a vital part of ensuring the SAWE remains a professional society relevant to our industry needs. The Industry Committees need volunteers to help with this important work. If you wish to help out, please contact me at standards@sawe.org.

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