Storage and the cloud

In his article Scott provides very positive feedback on the data storage options with www.azure.com.  While Scott is careful to provide balance in picking out a number of specific strengths of the other reviewed solutions – Amazon and Google – he certainly makes a strong case of azure.  Would depend on what's more important in your own implementation.

Changing roles in the cloud

As a consulting & implementation partner we’ve been thinking through the impact of the cloud – how consulting services will be perceived in the cloud environment.  If you sign up to a utility type model then where are the traditional consulting services factored in?  I think there are a number of possibilities.  Potentially there will be more pressure on clients to accept more ‘out of the box’ functionality – with less consulting services.  Potentially, because the client is no longer looking at a large outlay on hardware and software licensing upfront, some projects may get started more easily.  Potentially there will be far greater opportunities to deliver truly web enabled business solutions, rather than solutions which are limited to the internal organisation itself.

The cloud – or business applications hosted and managed in the cloud – raises all sorts of questions for traditional IT organisations.  Seems to me there is already a move towards decentralisation – in the area of collaboration solutions.  Employees want to use social networking type solutions – and have interchange between corporate and non corporate type networks.   Would seem all businesses will need IT professionals with the skills and knowledge to know what is possible – to advise/ support the business in entering into different contractual arrangements.  However the traditional control model may no longer apply.

a national CTO

Seems incoming President Obama is considering appointment of a CTO for the US.  Not that surprising when you remember how effectively the Obama campaign used technology in the case to the White House.  But perhaps we could benefit from following this idea in Ireland – as we look to up our ranking in the R&D world.  Undoubtedly we have made real progress in areas such as ROS.  However there continune to be opportunities to streamline how the citizen and businesses interact with government.

Web 2.0 coming of age

Interesting commentary in Irish Times today (http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2008/1121/1227137519515.html)  re Web 2.0.  Without doubt web 2.0 is one of the areas companies will look to 'make IT pay'.  There are real opportunities for payback on previous investments in IT through exploiting relatively cheap investments in web 2.0.  An excellent example is the number of companies who already have copies of WSS 3.0 (Windows SharePoint Services) but are not using it.  This is the foundation for SharePoint and includes lots of functionality which can be deployed across organisations to support collaboration, teamwork, document management, knowledge management.

Everything we see internationally suggests that Irish business should be looking to drive the adoption of enterprise 2.0 and web 2.0.

Rush to the cloud

Could not agree more with this comment why all this talk about cloud services . I think this was all well underway when we experienced the 'dotbomb' failure in 2000/2001.  Current economic issues have nothing to do with IT.  This time the tools are better, adoption is greater, the MS/google/ amazon race is driving the suppliers, bandwidth is cheaper.  The latest releases from MS e.g. www.azure.com are pushing things forward. 

Microsoft in the cloud

The announcements around azure (www.azure.com) certainly seem to place MS firmly in the cloud – or should I say with a firm presence both on the ground and in the cloud(s).  Not before time.  The challenge from the likes of google apps continues to gather momentum.  And the economic slow down certainly asks of IT are there less expenseive options?  Recent BusinessWeek posting makes for interesting reading – in terms of serious business adopting linux and google apps type approaches.  However need to be clear on which version of linux, what's actually free and whether comparing like with like.  But it's no longer a debate. 

web 2.0 – how seriously are we taking it?

Dion Hinchcliffe's talk at web 2.0 Europe

Dion reflects on the impact of 4 year's of web 2.0.  He focuses on the move from 'push' to 'pull' systems.  But much of the question is our readiness/ willingness to embrace and exploit the opportunity.

  • Who creates the value? (The network)

  • How much control do we have over our businesses?

  • How intellectual property works (creative commons…)?

  • Increases in transparency e..g in supply chain

  • Product development – we get that our customers tell us …but how do we listen to '000's of customers?

  • Operations – cloud computing

  • Customer service

Interesting to think about the value proposition that is the data companies now.  Would point business towards the unclaimed classes of data.

Same risks in ECM ad ERP

AIIM’s top 5 risks in ECM projects:

Risk #5: Underestimating the effort to migrate content
Risk #4: Uneven use resulting from poor procedures and enforcement.
Risk #3: Internal Politics
Risk #2: Lack of training for internal staff
#1 Risk When Implementing ECM: Underestimating process and organizational issues
 
Could be ERP risk:
Data, Adoption, Politics/leadership, training/commitment, change management
 
and the same would apply for CRM or BI!
 

…delivering ERP projects…

The principles of ERP projects are no different to other projects: establish the requirements, develop a plan, resource the plan, execute the plan, implement the changes, realise the beenfits.  But the projects themselves offer several challenges for both the company and the implementation partner.

A clear understanding of roles and responsibilities is key to kicking off the project:

  • Project sponsor (Company)
  • Project manager (Company and implementer)
  • Solution architect (Implementer)
  • Implementation consultant(s)
  • Implementation developer(s)
  • Commercial manager (Compan and implementer)
  • Leads for training, testing & data migration (Company)
  • Change manager (Company) – if not the sponsor

Depending on project size and complexity certain people may fill more than one role (even several roles).  However where the role is overlooked or not respected (ie subumed into other activities) you tend to find problems arise.

The criticality of the project sponsor role should speak for itself – the sponsor articulates the vision, the 'why we are doing this', provides the motivation, drive, support, etc. as the going gets tough.

When you look at the number of roles, the numbers of people, the interdependencies of tasks it becomes fairly obvious that a project manager is required.  When the company does not take the PM role seriously the project is a likely shipwreck.  When the implementer fails in project management the project will be a shipwreck – at least for the implementer.  And good project managers are not in over supply – people who understand the complexities of a project, drive teams to meet timelines, anticipate issues and realign/ reschedule to ensure projects still achieve their objectives against timelines and budgets.

The solution architect is often overlooked.   The SA must understand the the company, its objectives and its processes.  The SA matches this against an understanding of the ERP solution and the implications of
any non standard implmentation effort.  The SA works between the project managers, the developers and, potentially, the sponsor.

The consultants understand the processes and the ERP application.  Working with the project manager they should seek to influence the company in how they use the ERP application.  They will work hand in hand with the developers in any required developement work.

The commercial element of the project may vary during its life time as requirements change or emerge, as unexpected difficulties are uncovered.  Different approaches my be taken – but it is in both parties interests that fair agreement is reached as early as possible.  Neither the company nor the client want unexpected overruns or costs.

Training, testing and data maigration are critical activities.  The project manager will identify these key activities.  However the company needs to identify as early as possible who will take the lead on these activities.  Data migration is often a source of major unexpected project delays.  Training needs to tbe thought out – for instance require sufficient early training for the testers so that they are able to use the system to perform the testing.

And, finally, who will drive the changes through in the business post ERP implementation?

Explaining the opportunity to business managers

It’s not a challenge to be underestimated. Those of us who blog on a regular basis, interact with various social networking sites, etc., are well used to the terminology. But the ‘is it a blog, is it a wiki?’, ‘what’s the difference’ type questions are there in the minds of many. Blogs, wikis, tagging – a great opportunity if, for a start, someone can explain it to you.