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June-July  2004

WDMA Opens Up

Handbook Harnesses Technical Endeavors
by Alan J. Campbell

Association work is all about changing with the times. New product developments, building codes and standards and materials and trends have to be addressed regularly. Windows, doors and skylights play a leading role in the success of any construction project. They are not just another commodity, but an integral part of the construction decision-making process. 

Getting that message out, and reaffirming our status as a technical leader is a large part of what we do, and WDMA’s Technical Handbook has been a critical part of our strategic goals and objectives. In essence, the document is the organizational flow and decision-making processes that allow WDMA to find the optimum avenue for influencing codes around the country that directly impact the window and door industry. But it’s much more than that, too.

When WDMA first devised a plan to develop a Technical Handbook, we had no idea how integral this document would be in leading the industry and keeping up with the ever-changing codes arena. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the WDMA Technical Handbook, visit www.wdma.com to get a better picture of how the WDMA continues to position itself and its membership within the industry. At the site, you can download a copy of the handbook. There’s also an interactive portion for members only. 

There are many important parts to the handbook. For example, the document development process flow provides a schematic and step-by-step flow chart of every step required in the development of a plan for a technical document from start to finish. In addition, the handbook outlines the policies and procedures governing the operation of technical committees and technical task forces and the process of developing and maintaining technical standards, code strategies and the Hallmark Certification program. 

Always Revising 
WDMA membership completed the second revision of the document recently, focusing on several key refinements. As it was when it was first published, the handbook continues to be the product of a cooperative effort by the WDMA technical subcommittee of the strategic vision committee, WDMA staff and many others in the membership.

Jeff Lowinski, WDMA’s vice president of technology marketing, has been involved in the handbook’s revision. 
“The Technical Handbook is much more than a document,” he said. “It’s a process outline and consistent structure for the development and refinement of technical performance standards. It represents the framework for the development of all WDMA technical activities. We maintain and update the document consistently to reflect our current activities and to respond to changes in the industry in a proactive way.”

The Technical Handbook is a work in progress, and there have been valuable refinements in the second approved revision of the document. One significant change was to add a fourth technical review board member from each of the window division, door division and supplier membership to represent the make-up of WDMA membership more fully. In addition, the technical guide plan process was revised with changes made effecting the management of technical activities and resources of projects, reports, technical committee charters and other documents and processes. An integral part of the Technical Guide plan is the compilation of all projects and high-level objectives, which have been mapped out. This type of planning not only facilitates the association’s goals to manage by high level objectives, but it also spells out succinctly where WDMA wants to go in the future. WDMA will revisit the Technical Handbook on a quarterly basis, to assess how it is progressing. 

The Technical Handbook carries an overriding philosophy—the processes prescribed further ensure a continuing role for each segment of our membership. The Technical Handbook represents a true consensus and an excellent example of the most successful way to do business in the fenestration industry. 

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