Monday, October 24, 2005

Integration is a business issue (or rather, it should be)

Despite what most consultants and IT-manager are propagating, it is my strong believe that EAI projects should be seen as business projects. The problem lies in getting corporate management to agree on that matter...

So how would you go about achieving just that goal? Relatively simple; just explain to them how their organisation would create a strategic advantage by executing the project. There is no simple one-fits-all solution to this, it is always context bound. That said, let's look at an example scenario.

Imagine for while, a company that delivers ready made components for a product, which it builds from self-made components and components bought from other companies. To make it more real, let's suppose this was a company delivering aircraft doors to specification, using doorhandles from a third party.

These production processes tend to go on for many years, since planes are usually in production for decades. It being a high-yield business, it is important for the aircarft constructor to get the doors at the latest possible time, but never too late so as not to delay the delivery of the aircraft.
The goals of timely delivery are untill now met by maintaing constant contact between the door supplier and the aircraft constructor. The door supplier would do the same with the door handle supplier and so on. We can see a nice supply chain building here, and in reality the complexity will be much greater of course!

In this particular case a very simple sales pitch aws put together to give the doorbuilder a competitive edge, and the bottom line was to create an automated online, realtime insight into the supply chain. This would be achieved by extending the doorbuilders IT systems to enable the aircarft constructor to check delivery schedules online, including the delivery schedules from the doorhandler company.

The ultimate result would be a fully transparent supply chain, since it
was foreseen that the suppliers of the doorbuilders company would be updating their delivery schedules online as well. It did not take management a long time to realize the strategic advantage of this integration project, and it was no big problem in getting the budget from them either.

Just imagine what it would have taken to approach this as an IT only project; as you know, and will propably have experienced, it is not easy to get a budget in that case.

This is naturally a simple example, dated also, but it goes to show that their is allways a possibillity of getting management buy-in for your integration projects.

Next time, I will write some more on an EAI maturity model and growth path I have drawn up.

Jan Kopmels

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

EAI Wisdom up and running


it has taken a lot of planning, thinking about it and doubting about it, but the scale has landed on the right side finally.

I will be using this weblog as a gathering point for information on the subject of EAI as I see fit, and also I will be submitting articles on the subject myself.
These self-written articles will contain some of the unique and possibly interesting ideas that have sprung from my mind in the past 15 years. In these years I have been professionally involved in IT as a freelance architect, and for the last 7 years I have been focussed on the subject of EAI. In 1996 this has lead to the design and development of a unique integration platform for a client in the insurance business, which has won an award from the european union on the basis of its unique features... Many of the ideas that where realised then, are now slowly appearing in major products like Microsoft Biztalk, so I like to think I know what I am talking about.

In this weblog you will be finding articles on EAI, yes, but not so much focussed on the technological side of it. Simply because I have a strong believe that this is a totally uninteresting part of the equation. (I am known to colleagues and partners for my blunt statements, so get used to that)
In my experience, Integration is all about architecture, organisation and getting the point across that organisations can leverage the results of integration projects as a strategic advantage. I will explain in future articles how I usually go about doing this.

Untill then,
Jan Kopmels