Thinkronization Newsletter - October 2009
"Thinkronization" is the thinking person's E-newsletter for business and data integration / synchronization professionals. This is the second edition of our revamped publication and it has some great new content. The newsletter is for those who are focused on the integration of systems and collaboration with business partners. Published bi-monthly, the content contains thought leadership information focused on news, research, trends, blog posts, service and placement issues related to Business-to-Business Integration (B2Bi) and Enterprise Application Integration (EAI).
Scenario Planning, Is Your Integration Group Ready For What's Next?If your organization is like most, you have reduced staff and non-essential expenditures. Maybe you have consolidated business systems and the teams that support those systems. It is likely you have also sought to get more out of the business integration environment you already have in place. All this has been in response to an economy that has been in decline for about two years now.
So, what is next? Many we have been in touch with have gone, or are going, through scenario planning knowing things will go one of three ways. For the balance of 2009 and 2010, the business environment can stay about the same, get worse, or get better.
If things stay the same most will proceed in maintenance mode, continuing with regular business network integrations. Only new high ROI projects, mission critical projects like on boarding new partners, and upgrading software as support lapses, will be undertaken. IT groups will also seek to utilize their integration tools in new and different ways to maximize support of the business without acquiring new software and expense.
And what if things get worse? Focus will quickly turn to keeping the organization alive. Further reductions in staff are possible as organizations turn to concentrate on core competencies. Assistance from outside the organization will be called upon in an as needed or ongoing fashion. Only projects that possess the highest ROI will be started/completed, along with projects supporting existing customers or those that help land new ones.
How about when things get better? Finally, you will be able to focus on those projects providing great ROI that were not launched in the past given business conditions. It is also the perfect time to invest in the business integration suite or enterprise communications tool(s) that you have been researching. New software and technology such as this can be an excellent platform to support a moderate to rapid recovery. And recovery will occur; it is really a matter of time. Were you quick enough to cut expenses and change operations in the downturn? Most organizations were not. Will you be prepared to make investment in your integration platform to support the organization and participate fully in the recovery? Having the recovery scenario prepared will help you get the best tools and talent before the deals and resources get snatched up. (See Hiring Trends blog article).
What are the recovery scenarios and odds as it relates to the above? While recovery will vary by industry, region, and other things, I found some probabilities assigned to different types of recoveries in the recent UBS Investment Strategy Guide. The likelihood of a moderate recovery 55%, deflation / double dip recession 20%, v-shaped recovery 15%, and stagflation 10%.
So while the type of recovery is unknown, it's a great idea to plan and be ready for it. Many believe we are already in recovery. Time will tell.
Good luck with your scenario planning.
Budget Season Approaches
While requested year round, we are approaching the time of year we get the most calls from clients and prospects concerning assistance with project budgeting and sizing. Some are trying to spend efficiently what remains in their budget for the year; others are planning initiatives for next year.
With the economy in the throws of recession in 2009 only mission critical projects were pursued. It is expected by many that 2010 will be a great year if in fact we are presently at, or near, the bottom of the recession and entering recovery.
We find that sizing and budgeting information requests for critical new projects often include the following components:
- Scope Analysis
- Obstacle Planning
- Timeline Development
- Resource Requirements
- Project Costing
Cut Too Deeply...Some Turn To Service ProvidersIn second quarter 2009 statistics released from the Labor Department, it was reported that productivity rose at an annual rate of 6.6% in the quarter. This was one of the largest advances in productivity since 2003. With output at a somewhat constant level in the quarter and a reduction of total hours worked through shedding of staff, the result was a productivity increase. However, many have been impacted by the labor related cost cuts. Likely you or someone you know has been impacted.
For those whose positions were spared, they are left to "produce" at current or higher levels. This may be fine in the short run, but there are limits to human capacity as well as the degree people can be cross trained to perform certain skill or knowledge tasks in the organization. They say it's likely this will be a slow recovery and the consumer will be spending more cautiously. If this is to be a consumer led recovery, consumers need to be employed and feel as though their finances are on solid ground.
So what's my angle you might ask?
As organizations evaluated labor capacity some made the appropriate cuts at the appropriate time, some cut too late and then too deeply. In either event, REMEDI has had quite a number of EDI/EAI engagements in the past year that supplement staff to handle backlog, fill a skill set gap, or utilize our managed services to perform their entire EDI/EAI function.
With the potential of a slow recovery, getting resources back in a full-time capacity may be tough until it is firmly under way. In the meantime you have IT service providers that can assist with solutions to capacity and skill gaps. This is an approach that enables you to easily ramp your labor needs up and down without a lot of HR headaches.
Just Released...Scenes From A Server - Part 3Hopefully by now you have seen one of our "Scenes from a Server" video clips. The feedback from folks has been positive and the clips have certainly left a memorable impression.
While the video series was designed to be an attention getter, making its way from one integration professional's inbox to another, REMEDI is not all about nonsensical videos depicting the challenges of integration. We actually assist clients daily with B2B and Enterprise Integration challenges and solutions. With over 16 years in the IT integration services business, we try continually to earn our reputation as a "thought leader" in this space. To achieve this positioning you will find a variety of resources on our video viewing page as well as the resources area of our web site.
In regard to the video, the latest is the third of a short, four-part series entitled "Scenes from a Server", depicting the challenges of integration. We hope you find this one as memorable as those that preceded it. If by chance you missed the prior videos and desire to put this one in context, these videos may be viewed in succession at our videos page on our website. .
Here is the latest, "Scenes from a Server - Part 3", and some article/information links.
Who Has Sterling Integrator™ / GIS Classroom Style Product Training?We do!
EDI training requests continue to be among our most common service request. This has been the case for as many years as we can recall. Engagement circumstances vary from training backfill and staff expansion resources, to product training on newly acquired EDI and integration suite tools.
In terms of on-premises training, clients usually seek customized training to address specific needs and concerns omitting basic/known topics. Known by many names, "over the shoulder", "pilot/copilot", "side by side", "on the job", training is at the client location with client licensed software, installed in the client environment, accessing client business systems. Accompanied with this training are real life client/partner implementation requirements with at least one if not many client resources.
Now Available, Sterling Integrator / GIS Classroom Style Training...
An on-premises variation of training similar to the above is traditional classroom style product-based training, offered as a supplement or alternative to software vendor classes. This curriculum is available in a "canned" fashion, but is customizable as desired by the client. In this approach training is more lecture, group exercise, independent exercise in nature using pre-developed exercises that flow with the lecture content.
The training encompasses a variety of Sterling Integrator / GIS courses, and content from certain courses can be included or excluded as desired. Deliverables that remain with the client include PowerPoint presentations, student manuals, print outs of the trainer notes, and of course the resulting exercises from the training class.
Call us to discuss your training needs.