Make Your Voice Heard in the Industry | Why Balloting Matters
I’ve been working in AAMA’s Technical Department since 2015 and I’ve learned more about windows, doors and skylights than I ever would have imagined when I graduated with my English and Journalism degrees. I always thought I would end up at a publishing company or working in a library. Yet, I’ve found a comfortable place at AAMA as the association’s Technical Standards Coordinator, working with standards and helping our members develop and improve them.
AAMA is known for several things in the industry, but for me, it’s our work with standards, the technical and certification documents, that sets us apart. We try to set the bar for the industry when it comes to the products our members produce. AAMA standards are carefully put together by representatives from that market sometimes they’re even from competing companies. Our documents are developed in an open and consensus process and are maintained by representative members of AAMA as advisory information. This means that no one has a leg up on anyone else. We want the best for the industry, for consumers and for everyone involved.
How Is Consensus Reached?
Consensus is reached through balloting. You may recall getting ballots from AAMABallots@aamanet.org, and today I want to impress on readers why those ballots are so important. When you get a ballot and you’re asked to vote on it, it’s important to participate because it gives you a heads up on what’s going on in the industry. Great minds come together in AAMA task groups and committees to talk about the past, present and future of the industry. Balloting gives you a chance to let your voice be heard.
There’s always a document open somewhere because those involved with AAMA are constantly revolutionizing the industry and moving it forward. Almost every material and product we represent has a new document or one in development being updated. That’s because the industry itself is always making great strides forward and we’re a big part of that.
What Do You Do If You Get a Ballot?
If you get a ballot, there’s a good reason for it. You’re being asked to look at it because your technical expertise is needed.
Our developing groups write new documents and revise current ones. Once developed, documents go out to ballot to seek membership approval from representative members. There are two parts to each ballot: voting and non-voting (comment-only). They’re exactly what they sound like. There are four levels that can be balloted: Task group, committee, council and product group. A document can be developed by any of the first three. In return, they ballot their document in consecutive order to the groups they report to (assuming each ballot is successful). All technical documents end their balloting process once they’ve achieved a successful product group ballot and no substantive changes are made when resolving the comments from that ballot.
Only Category 1 AAMA members can participate in the voting ballot as long as they are a member of the developing group or a representative in the group receiving the ballot. While Category 2 and 3 members don’t have a vote, they do have an important voice on the non-voting part of the ballot. They can always leave a comment. No matter what you vote (or don’t vote), every pertinent comment must be resolved before the document can move forward in the document development process. We do receive the occasional “good job” or “job well done” comments. Our developing groups appreciate the good will and thankfully don’t need to resolve comments like those.
Once approved, a document is approved for publication. Staff does both a formatting and technical review. We are lucky to have Rich Rinka, AAMA Technical Manager, Standards & Industry Affairs, and Steven Saffell, AAMA Technical Director, on staff to review documents prior to publication. Meanwhile, I make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed. (At my desk, I have a sign that says I am silently correcting your grammar – I am not-so-silently correcting grammar in documents!)
What’s the Big Takeaway Here About Balloting?
Don’t be afraid to respond. We need votes, but we don’t always get them because people aren’t necessarily knowledgeable about a specific topic. It’s more than okay to vote abstain in those cases or even write a “no comment.” Or, if you don’t have time to give an in-depth response, you can abstain in this case as well. One thing you may not know is that you can contact staff to change your vote up until the ballot closes. That said, if you do know about the document’s technical matter, please vote early so AAMA can reach out quickly about any comments you may have.
If you ever have questions about a ballot, you can always reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to help.