I have been blogging about our BPM and SOA initiative all year long. Yesterday, we deployed our first application, a customer facing B2B portal that spans our sales order process. Although this is just the first iteration of many and we are still a few months away from delivering the features that will give us the big ROI, this was a major milestone for us. So I would like to take this opportunity to share a few things we did right. In part 2, I will discuss a few things I would do different next time.
Things we did right
- Focused on business not technology - we performed a 90 day business process assessment where we documented current state, brain stormed on future state, and defined a portfolio of projects that each had their own ROI. This allowed us to sell the business on BPM and SOA and helped us secure the funds required to take on SOA.
- We did our homework - We attended conferences, read blogs, researched web sites, collaborated with experience architects, and a got our hands on anything or anyone that had any information about SOA.
- Thorough POC - We invested a lot of time in an extensive vendor assessment for both the BPM and SOA tools. When we narrowed it down to the short list of vendors we brought them each in for a full day proof of concept. I wrote a piece on CIO.com called the Proof is in the Pudding and another called Beware of Eye Candy that talks about some of the scary things you might find when you start going beyond the Power Point slides and start actually trying to execute processes and services.
- Surrounded ourselves with talent - We put several of our best people on this project on both the IT and business side. Not only did we look for talent, but we looked for motivated people who embrace change and bought into the vision. We also partnered with an implementation company with years of SOA experience including working on some of the largest SOA implementations in the world. We embedded our architects with our SOA partners to accelerate the learning curve.
- Strong executive support - Our executive sponsor is from the business and the person who went to the top to get the funding for the project. Like a couple of us in IT, she put her career on the line by signing up to deliver substantial ROI numbers over the next four years. You can bet that we have all the support we need. Recently, the CEO declared this one of the key initiatives over the next four years so now the whole company is behind this.
- Squash resistance instantly - Any time we encountered or were told of resistance or negativity, we immediately addressed it head on. Some of these occurrences turned out to be great learning opportunities while others were the result of lack of buy in. In each case, we tried to understand the root cause and resolve the issue before it spread like a fungus.
- Short, iterative deliverables - Many companies get themselves into trouble by trying to tackle too much out of the gates. We took a look at all of the projects that we identified and used a combination of portfolio management and a SOA roadmap to determine the priority and size of the scope for each project. By laying out the long term vision, we were able to prioritize which services to build first to maximize reuse and reduce the overall cost of deployment.
- Sound architecture - We are laying the foundation for a loosely coupled, service enabled architecture that will give us a platform to quickly react to change. We are leveraging both Portal and BPM technology to create new tools that empower our users with self service capabilities, visibility into the workflow, and access to KPIs through Business Activity Monitoring (BAM). We are also leveraging SOA to connect this new front end to our years of legacy systems while hiding the complexity from the users.
- Having Fun - We are all under intense pressure to deliver the numbers we promised in aggressive time frames. The work is challenging and we had a few "coming to Jesus" meetings along the way, but overall all we are extremely excited and focused on future successes. At the same time we are enjoying being part of an initiative that will transform the company.