If you’ve ever bought an enterprise system, you know that the sticker price is usually only a small fraction of the total cost of ownership and that the implementation and integration costs can dwarf the sticker price by an order of magnitude. As a result, integration costs often present supply management with an opportunity to save six or seven figures. But how? Especially when 70% of enterprise projects fail to deliver on their initial promise?
In a word, planning. According to several experts in the field, the most common problems that arise when companies set out to integrate procurement, distribution, warehousing and communication systems come not in executing their plans, but rather in conceptualizing them. The reality is that if your plans are good enough, you can get a junior team fresh out of an India technical school to implement them successfully*. But if the plans aren’t good enough, you might as well take that money to Las Vegas, because those 10% odds of success are better than the odds of your project succeeding.
Not only do you need a shared view of success at the enterprise level, as discussed in this article on drawing the lines on system integration, but you need a detailed plan that describes what systems will be integrated, what modules will be linked, what data will be exchanged, what functionality will result from the integration, and what success cases look like. Coding is rarely the challenge. It’s usually knowing what to code.
* Unfortunately, the doctor has never seen plans this good. It is possible to create them, but it seems that companies never spend enough time in the planning stage anymore …
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… where you are likely to experience asphyxia, hallucinations, brain-damage, and death, make sure you secure your rights, namely:
- You own your data,
- you’re entitled to the service levels you are promised, and
- you have a right to come down when you’re ready to breathe again!
As per James Urquhart’s Cloud Computing Bill of Rights, your data is your data. This means that the vendor:
- must never claim any ownership of any data you upload, create, generate, modify, host, or otherwise associate with your IP;
- must always provide you with APIs that not only allow you to upload data as needed, but to download all of your data in a standard format at any time; and
- must inform you where your data is being hosted and must host only at those locations you agree to.
Furthermore, while it is your responsibility to undertake any integration and perform any necessary maintenance that may be required, from time to time, that you agree to, it is fundamentally the vendor’s responsibility to meet the service targets they promise. This means that vendors:
- must do everything in their power to meet service level targets;
- must monitor service levels and give customers access to the same metrics and logs they use to monitor those service levels;
- must not terminate your contract for any reason not explicitly stated as grounds for termination in the contract; and
- must not invoke “act of nature”, “act of god”, or force majeure clauses except for true force majeure events which could not be predicted or prevented against (occasional loss of power from the main provider or loss of internet from the main provider is to be expected and power, internet, and other key systems must be fully redundant, etc.).
But most importantly, you have a right to come down when you’re ready to breathe again! The vendor, subject to the terms of the agreement:
- must let you extract all of your data and end the contract whenever you have the right to;
- must not charge you to download your data; and
- must not charge you any additional fees other than any early termination penalties you agree to.
It’s your data. It’s your solution. It’s your business. And if you decide down the road that you don’t want to experience asphyxia, hallucinations, brain-damage, and death, that’s your right!
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