Daily Archives: December 3, 2015

Technological Damnation 86: Template Mania

We’ll admit that compared to the rest of the technological damnations, and damnations like Cybersecurity / Cyberattack (76), The Cloud (80), and Dashboards (84) in particular, just to name a few, this particular damnation isn’t that bad [and it’s certainly no Big Data (79) or Spreadsheet (83)]. But it’s bad enough to make our list. Why? Let’s get to it.

But first, what is a template? Well, that depends. Wikipedia has over a dozen definitions for templates, including:

  • a pre-developed page layout in electronic or paper media used to make new pages with a similar design, pattern, or style;
  • a standardized non-executable file type used by computer software as a pre-formatted example on which to base other files, especially documents; and
  • a master page on which you can globally edit and format graphic elements and text common to each page of a document.

However none of these definitions really clarify what a template is. So let’s consider a few of the templates we use in Supply Management.

  • RFX templates to quick start sourcing projects for common or previously sourced categories
  • Strategic Souring Decision Optimization templates for pre-defining models
  • Data collection templates for analyzing surveys using BI tools
  • Scorecard templates for supplier performance monitoring
  • Workflow templates for setting up a sourcing project
  • Workflow templates for (automatically) approving invoices

And right now you’re probably even more confused. And that’s the point.

Extreme template proliferation makes it hard to even identify what a template is.

Is it a form? It is a form generator? Is it a workflow that powers a form generator to create a form custom for your sourcing project? Is it copyable, or just configurable? Is it specific to you, your project, your organization, and/or your platform? Can it be altered by you, by an administrator, or just a vendor rep? The questions are dizzying. And we still haven’t addressed the fact that …

Even if we can define what a template is, it’s hard to know when it could be used.

Take a quick-start sourcing template for mobile electronics. If it was designed for cell phones, can it be used as-is for smart phones or does it need minor edits. What about tablets. And what about those damn unclassifiable phablets. Aaarrrggghhh!

With so many options for each situation, it’s almost impossible to know which one is best.

If the templates can be copied and altered, there might be the vendor template, the modified template from the Center of Excellence, the modified modified template from the last Sourcing project created by the previous buyer, a modified vendor template from another region created by yet another buyer, a third party template in the customer network on the vendor’s site, and so on. Which one is best? Are any appropriate? At this point you just want to bang your head against the brick walls.

And how do we keep them all up to date?

This is the real damnation. Not only do we have to keep a never ending deluge of data up to date, but we have to now keep a never ending deluge of templates that may or may not be used to capture the never ending deluge of data up to date. Ack!

Data, data everywhere
and all the tables burst
Data, data everywhere
we thought it’d get no worse