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Picking up the thread from our last look at Hari’s plight in An Enterprise’s Journey to Discovery (1), the scene is now set in the business department’s office building of Culinnovation’s headquarters. ‘Hari the Architect’ has his mind made up to successfully convince the business managers that their CBMS approach needs to be re-evaluated. Furthermore, Hari’s conviction still stands that to do this requires a more in-depth architectural analysis of their overall approach.
Hari knows that his target is a tough one, and it’s all uphill from here. Yet he presses on with an unwavering sense of purpose…across the expanse of sidewalks and parking lots from IT’s office building to where the business department is situated…through the dense jungle of office cubicles, of neck ties and leather pumps…amid the bustle of squeaky swivel chairs and telephone chatter, of gurgling coffee machines that keep whispering “caffeine“…and eventually arriving at the destination of his quest: ‘Tara the Budget Manager’s’ office.
Tap tap tap. [The office door creaked open].
Excuse me Ms. Parker, are you there?
Yes, come on in. Oh, hello Hari. How are you on this fine Monday morning?
Doing well, thanks for asking. But actually, Ms. Parker, I need your help with something that I’m working on.
My help!? Well if you’re here to talk numbers, then I’m all ears! [‘Tara the Budget Manager‘ chuckled lightly, as if amused by her own tacky joke]. No seriously, go ahead Hari…what’s on your mind?
Well, I wanted to see if you would be open to introducing a new approach to the business team in order to re-assess our CBMS approach. I believe we need to refine what our business requirements are in relation to the IT constraints or possible enhancements. And Ms. Parker, I even have an alternative approach, which would provide much more flexibility in terms of meeting the business objectives of the planned ‘Comprehensive Business Management Solution‘.
Hmmm, [responded ‘Tara the Budget Manager‘ slowly, followed by a suspenseful pause. She finally broke the silence by blurting out,] How much is it going to cost us? [As the company’s loyal budget manager, she was quite shrewd when it came to dispersing funds, ensuring every cent that was spent of their budget was meticulously accounted for and completely justifiable.]
Well, um…I’d have to work out some figures based on the estimates that would be available on….hey, I haven’t even told you what I had in mind as a possible solution and you’re already asking the cost!? Don’t you even want to hear that much?
Depends….well, OK…sure Hari, go ahead then.
Thank you… [Hari gathered his composure once again and sighed out a breath of tension. He wasn’t going to stall anymore now that he had gotten ‘Tara the Budget Manager’s‘ undivided attention. Hari intuitively changed his stance to take on more of an investment-oriented perspective. This was crucial to avert the conversation from being hijacked by ‘Tara the Budget Manager’s‘ number crunching response]…actually Ms. Parker, did you know that in a recent study conducted by the Gartner Group, IT budgets are consumed anywhere between 60 and 80% JUST on the maintenance of existing IT systems? That doesn’t leave much of the budget — if any at all — after the necessary system maintenance, updates, renewed software licenses, or arbitrary costs are all accounted for. And anything that remains of the budget definitely won’t go towards fueling evolving business needs and innovation — just because there is probably too much darn work and cost involved, am I right?!
You certainly hit the nail on the head, Hari! It nearly sends my mind into a tailspin just trying to compensate for all the spending that gets funneled into keeping our IT systems running. But what’s your point to all this?
Well Ms. Parker, the new solution I’m proposing would cut these costs DRAMATICALLY and over a relatively short span of time, say possibly within less than 6 months after going live. [Hari paused, just long enough for his words to resonate and make a subtle impression in her mind]. In fact, once we have recognized our business processes that need to be more efficient, as well as our IT landscape capabilities and constraints, and then we decide on how to synchronize the various silos with the use of service-enabled technology, then…[‘Tara the Budget Manager’s’ eyebrows shot up after hearing these foreign words ‘silos’ and ‘service-enabled’, as if she was instantly stunned by the words themselves. Hari knew he had to act fast in order to avoid her plummeting into the realm of ‘IT-term overload’. Hari scrambled to find a different way of explaining]…
…um, what I mean is…that we would need to connect our various systems which happen to contain loads of information. Think of it almost like a bicycle wheel where all the spokes have to join up in the centerpoint. [With that, ‘Tara the Budget Manager’s’ eyebrows resumed to their normal position and her business mind snapped back into action after hearing Hari’s pacifying and non-technical explanation]…
…so then what happens Hari? All our problems and budget restraints would then be magically swept away?! We’d have nothing but returns and more glorious returns? What is this nonsense?? I may not know much about the IT side of things, but I can recognize extra dollar signs when I see them! And furthermore…
What I was getting to, Ms. Parker, [yelped Hari, boldly cutting her off,] is that if these things that I just mentioned were to take place, then the budget that is normally reserved for routine maintenance tasks and other consuming manual labor would be greatly diminished. In fact, your budget amount could so much as double what it usually is, possibly even before 3rd quarter rolls around. [Hari noticed ‘Tara the Budget Manager’s‘ lips form into a skeptical, yet unconcealed and surprised little smirk at the sound of her budget doubling]. All that it would take is some basic education to the business side about the main concepts for this new approach, in order to see how the ROI and intangible business benefits will be reached. Then it would naturally require some modest funding upfront for things to be implemented in the right way. Actually, Ms. Parker, in the whole scheme of things, this solution would really pay for itself in a short amount of time, when you consider the saving on maintenance and future upgrades, not to mention the prevention of a potential outage that could result from our antiquated IT systems. Think of it this way Ms. Parker, an outage would end up costing us way more than it would to implement a much more reliable solution which I am proposing. So how about it? Let’s approach the other managers to introduce my solution, which is based on Service-Oriented Architecture! [Hari declared exuberantly].
Oh man, not this again! [‘Tara the Budget Manager‘ snarled, suddenly rolling her eyes up to the ceiling]. We simply cannot afford to bring in any more technology and burden our company further with these new architecturally-oriented — or whatever you just said– band-aids that you’re cheering about!
[Hari was sensing the urgency to convey his message more than ever now — before he was literally kicked out of the office with ‘Tara the Budget Manager’s‘ dainty little tan loafer].
But that’s precisely what this solution would avoid, the all too common scenario of bolting-on-more-technology that a lot of other companies make the mistake of falling into. This is not a short-term solution that I’m talking about — it has proven value and results, and it is a very thorough approach for bridging business and IT goals…in order to consolidate all of the applications that are clogging the system…and in order to simplify our business processes with IT architecture, which would end up helping both IT and business!
There you go, bringing up architecture again, as if it’s our saving grace! Look, Mr. Architect, I don’t know whether or not any NEW technology can overhaul our ‘dinosaur-age‘ technology [she emphasized with an heavy tone of sarcasm]. And if it can, then it would sure prove to be an awful waste of money that we had spent on these so-called improvements. The solution that you’re suggesting I’m certain is not cheap, and quite frankly — I really cannot bear to hear our accountant’s calculator keys clicking away like a machine gun, especially after our last upgrade.
Just hold on Ms. Parker, [Hari knew this was his last chance of getting through to her]…what if I could give you real business case scenarios — some actual proof that other companies have truly benefited from the very thing that I am trying to introduce — and costing way less than you would think? Would you then possibly consider the solution that I’m proposing? For instance, I could explain how a basic day-to-day business process like order fulfillment can be made more efficient and less expensive by using—
These companies which you’re referring to don’t necessarily have our unique set of problems and limitations, Hari. And our company is not going to just blindly follow other companies, so I don’t think these examples apply to us. Listen Hari, I hate to be so rigid, but I just don’t see the ROI here, and we’d have to pull together a lot of extra resources and funding that we just don’t have right now considering the current economic outlook. We can perhaps work out some numbers later on, once things settle down or if the time comes when we really need to, but again, I’m talking need here.
OK, Ms. Parker, I’ll take my leave then. Thanks for your time.
[Hari turned and sighed wearily, thinking to himself, ‘If only you could understand that I AM talking need here!’]
[Hari’s ego was completely deflated now that his battleship had been capsized by Ms. Tara Parker. His words had obviously just gone ‘in one ear, and out of the other’. He now had a sinking feeling of whether or not he would ever really be able to get his point across to anybody in his company. He sat on a hard and cold bench outside of the budget manager’s office, scratching his head in bewilderment.]
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Hey, what are you doing in this neck of the woods, Hari?
[It was Donald–one of the office’s many businessmen, although Hari only faintly recognized him from a long-past status meeting with the business department. Even though Hari couldn’t quite remember ‘Donald the business guy’s‘ particular position within the company (Hari was starting to forget what his own role was within Culinnovations for that matter), he did seem to recall that this man had carried himself in a personable and charismatic way by trying to make conversation with the IT group and sneaking in witty comments during that beyond-boring meeting.]
It’s Donald, just call me Don for pete’s sake. All these Misters and Misses — so much formality when we’re all supposed to be working so closely as a team, right?
I’m not so sure about any team, Sir, I mean Don.
Hey, kiddo — what’s the matter with you? [‘Donald the business guy’ was sensing that Hari’s usually upbeat nature had been replaced by a distant and almost sullen demeanor.]
Oh, I’m just wondering what purpose I have in this organization. It seems like no one really takes what I have to say seriously. Anyway, I don’t want to burden you with all my thoughts Don. Please, carry on with whatever you were doing.
What me? I wasn’t really doing anything significant other than going to grab some more coffee to stay alert. And besides, your business is now my business Hari, because if you’re questioning your purpose within our company, then that concerns me!
Well, it’s just that when I feel that I have something very important to communicate to anyone about the direction we are headed with CBMS, they are all too eager to brush me off. I guess everyone is just too darn busy to be worried about whether or not CBMS will really yield the desired results.
Not me! I’m never too darn busy, and I’m not everyone either…what were you saying about this CBM stuff? You think our solution is going to do a nose dive or what? [‘Donald the business guy‘ said with a grin, trying to lift Hari’s spirits.]
[‘OK‘ thought Hari ‘let’s see how long this guy lasts….‘ and continued slowly].
Well if you really want to know, Don, with this plan to integrate the company’s Windows-based reporting system, the mainframe-based GL system, and the SAP R/2 materials system — the complexity that will remain after this project is completed will not actually solve our main problem. The problem will still remain that the data flowing across these units will not be real time, meaning there is no immediate data transfer. Furthermore, the process will still involve a lot of manual steps and labor, possibly leading to erroneous data due to human mistakes. So considering this situation, which I see to be inevitable, ‘Comprehensive Business Management Solution‘ is really not going to provide us with the support and results in achieving what everyone expects or wants it to achieve. To be honest, Don, I just don’t see any real benefit that CBMS would bring to Culinnovations. And I don’t understand how the business managers — such as Ms. Parker, or even the IT director, Mr. Carlisle — can’t notice that there are some major gaps in our current approach. …Ahem, excuse me for being so negative about all this. I didn’t mean to speak so bluntly about it.
Hey, no need to apologize for your thoughts Hari — it seems they are grounded in some good reasons. So tell me, do you have some other idea of what would work better?
[Hari almost couldn’t believe his ears! He was actually getting the opportunity, as if presented on a silver platter, to explain his ideas (rather than having to plead to someone to listen to him). His heart pounded with triumphant delight with this surprising turn of events. ‘All right,‘ Hari declared to himself, ‘I’m not going to blow it this time….‘]
So Don, the new approach that I have in mind can help to create an IT system that will be much simpler to use, much faster and far cheaper to implement and maintain, in contrast to CBMS. And keeping our current economic slump and rising competition in sight, it is all the more important for the future success of Culinnovations to realize the importance of a well-run IT architecture. An architecture that is as flexible as possible to accommodate the changes that are happening as well as our business priorities.
I couldn’t agree more with you Hari.
But Sir…..[almost as if by habit, Hari had prepared himself for the opposition which he had started coming to expect]…wait, you agree with me?!
Sure do. I’ve been waiting for someone to address this. I actually read about it all the time, that other companies are starting to question whether their IT architecture can really hold up, considering the changing conditions in the marketplace, not to mention the changes that are happening right in their own backyards. So they’re looking for newer and better ways to acclimate to these changes. I guess I shouldn’t be admitting this to you, but I have been known to keep an eye on some technology-centric topics that are floating around these days. Just never had anyone to admit it to, I guess. [And ‘Donald the business guy’ chuckled lightly, feeling a bit shy about his astonishing confession.]
That’s great Don! I wish I had known this before…then you must be knowing that with the advent of a more service-oriented approach, you can turn your IT investments into real value by streamlining and simplifying business processes, by uncovering the layers upon layers of technology that are glued to existing architecture and determining what you can do without. For instance, this new technology can improve end user experience drastically — in fact — I can even show you certain scenarios presented on a particular platform that’s called Discovery System to understand how to use concepts in eSOA to improve business processes and architecture. [And then it suddenly occurred to him, like a bolt of lightning that just struck him on the head with no prior warning. Hari felt as if a beacon of light had just shown him the Holy Grail.] That’s it! [exclaimed Hari, jolted by his own epiphany,] I can convince everyone the benefits of eSOA through Discovery System! I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before — but when I saw for myself how that whole thing worked on SDN, it made everything so clear. Wow, this is excellent Don, thanks a million!
[At that moment, as Hari realized that he had been completely lost in his own euphoria, he saw ‘Donald the business guy’ staring at him with an expression that conveyed both bafflement and shock at the same time.]
I don’t know what you just said, kid, but it seems like some bulb just got lit. I like when that happens. I was following you with the ‘turning IT investments into value’ bit, and what was it…? — Something about ‘glued-on technology’? But after that, you lost me. Now I can see why you’ve had a hard time getting others to listen to you….this is quite ‘over-your-head’ kind of stuff that your talking about. And I’m not too sure — in fact, I would safely say that this IS NOT going to fly with Business.
Oh just wait, Donald. Now I know how I can show them in a real way how this new approach would work for us. I just have to do some leg-work on my own to figure out what to present to them. And I’ll have to get my hands on Discovery System somehow. But now I know that I just need a chance to tell the business and IT groups…yet everyone seems to be running away from me these days, once they see me coming!
That’s the tricky bit Hari – just getting their attention in the first place.
Can you help me with something Don?
Now I’ve accepted that I am roped in, whether I like it or not [‘Donald the business guy’ said with a sigh]…so what’s that Hari?
Can you please call a meeting with everyone Don? Just to have ‘one last CBMS review meeting’ — to go over things again? Talk to Ernie Carlisle, the director of our IT department and say that Business wants to run through things again and make sure we are considering all our options. Of course he’ll agree, and then when everyone meets, I’ll unveil my solution with the help of Discovery!
I don’t know, Hari — there’s going to be real trouble if this turns out to be a debacle. My job is also on the line here if I start stirring things up with this project.
Your job is safe Don. I know you’d be going out on a limb for me, but I won’t let you down. I won’t let anyone down!
Hmmm… [‘Donald the business guy’ responded slowly, followed by a suspenseful silence.] OK man, I’m in. I guess it’s worth the chance to reconsider whether we’re making a big mistake with this project, IF what you’re saying is accurate. But I sure do hope you know what you’re doing Hari.
Just talk to Mr. Carlisle for me, please Don. You won’t be sorry.
OK Hari. I think we’re in for one heck of a ride, but I’ll do it. This was the last thing I would have expected from my so-called coffee break! [he added, laughing heartily]. Anyway, I’ll let you know where things stand, once I talk to Ernie. See ya, Hari.
Bye Don, and thanks!!
[Hari felt a surge of energy running through his body, knowing it was his last chance to change their minds. But he also had the unnerving afterthought that he wouldn’t be able to pull it off alone. Then it dawned on him — he had to get ‘Stu the Developer’ onboard, since Stu was crucial in order to get things up and running, and to give Hari’s case more weight by having a solid technical line of defense. Hari knew he was going to need to convince ‘Stu the Developer’ that NetWeaver-based eSOA was the way to go!]