Todays news is filled with stories of unaccomplished enterprise applications. Corporations sometimes blame the software companies for these uncompleted systems, but is it their fault? No! The blame lies with those corporations who did not follow the basic procedure before planning on introducing a new information system to the company. However, whats important here is not who’s to blame, but how to avoid something similar happening to you!
As you plan on introducing your own information systems architecture, first follow these steps that will take you through the process of creating a “system of systems” that can meet the current and future needs of any company, regardless of size or industry!
1. Define your business objectives: first step in developing and IS architecture is asking yourself “for what purpose does this company exist?”. find out who you are producing goods/services for, and why you are doing this.
2. Determine market challenges: no company operates in a perfect world. Every business must overcome many market challenges, and key issues need to be viewed from a number of perspectives. For example, packaging problems need to be examined from the suppliers, producers and the customers point of view. The conclusion of this will have a significant impact on how the supporting IS will be developed.
3. Create Business Structures: This challenge should be viewed from the perspevtive of the 4 P’s of marketing, to clarify that different internal groups, and their IS’s will have different goals, and objectives.
4. Map Business Procedures: once all business procedures have been evaluated, they must be mapped. Tools such as Vision are readily available to aid in this mapping. The Supply Chain Council’s Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model also is a helpful tool. The model defines the major operations within the demand fulfillment structure—Plan, Source, Make, Deliver—and breaks them down into subsequent levels of detail that can be assembled based on a particular company’s specific activities and processes.
5. Determine critical success factors: By defining the company’s process requirements in relation to the business structures they support, and bringing in senior functional managers from across the business, it is possible to identify the overall critical success factors (CSF) for the company to achieve profitable growth.
6. Calculate overall return on investment: Managers could be asked to ascertain the financial performance which they feel could be realistically achieved in the tools, technology and the information systems were available.
7. Develop a demand management system architecture:
All previous steps culminate in the intelligent Demand Management System architecture required for any company to achieve its business objectives, taking into consideration its business processes, structures, functional silos, and behaviors. Clearly, a lot of different and best-of-breed technologies would have to be deployed from different vendors to meet the company’s business objectives, as no vendor or application was up to the task.
8. Vendor Selection and Implementation: This involves analyising the results from all the previous steps, and implementing the resulting information system. Using the resulting information systems architecture as a roadmap,any company will be able to prioritize the rollout of the different applications comprising its enterprise solution. In addition, they should be able to negotiate a unique deal with the ERP vendor selected as the “backbone” to its architecture.