Monday, August 31, 2015

The Golden Path

Geek Warning:  The Golden Path is a term in Frank Herbert's fictional Dune universe referring to Leto II Atreides's strategy to prevent humanity's ultimate destruction.

Just back from a little "stay-cation".  My batteries were running a little low, so it was good to recharge for a bit.  The #Beat39 theme continued to roll around in my brain and I want to share a predominant line of thinking from that.

Back in the olden days when Oracle was first developing Fusion Applications, they made a big effort to discover common threads of business practices across a range of industries and organizations. Processing invoices, controlling inventory, managing employee performance reviews, completing projects, billing's a long list of common business practices and common activities.

The result of that effort was a set of common "best practices", by industry, that were baked into Fusion Applications.  That collection of best practices became known as the Oracle Business Process Model ("Oracle BPM").  You can see an example for the Project Portfolio Management Suite here.  As Fusion Applications have evolved into Oracle Cloud Application Services (Oracle's SaaS offerings), Oracle BPM has evolved right along with it.  You'll find the latest Oracle BPM in Oracle SaaS.

Back in the really olden days, customers and their implementation partners would generally follow a three-step implementing strategy:  1) understand the customer's current business process; 2) design the customer's future business process; 3) implement enterprise software to model the customer's future business process as closely as possible.

With today's SaaS applications, customers may be better served by following a different strategy: 1) configure a SaaS zone and test the "baked in" business processes with an eye toward utilizing those processes in your own organization; 2) address and resolve any business process gaps; 3) test and go live.  In short, maximize your use of enterprise software in the way the software was designed to be used, business processes and all.  Being open to business process change is the "Golden Path" to a successful SaaS implementation.

While this idea is nothing new, it's a pretty fundamental shift in perspective.  Thoughts?  Comments welcome.


MilesT said...

Documented best practice models are essential for staying vanilla and on the upgrade path (for on premise applications) and essential for SaaS.

However, just having the business processes is not always enough; for proper understanding it's also necessary to have a high level enterprise data model/information reference model, especially for reports. To use the system properly, you need to know the definition of the data--what data should be in that field on that screen, what the reports really mean.

As an example of how important this is, it's my understanding that Airbus had 1 year delay in production of the A380 superjumbo because the data model of the system which designed the airframe wasn't aligned to the data model of the system which desired the wiring (lack of clarity of the precise definition of data needing to be shared between the systems), with the result that the first iteration of the wiring harness was a little too short for the intended position of the airframe, and had to be redesigned. Both systems were packaged applications.

The Oracle Retail business unit has been in on the best practice model work, too. About 3 years ago Oracle Retail released the first version of the Retail Reference Library (processes to L3, data semantics, integrations, and high level solution architecture), and has kept this up to date since, the latest version is aligned to 14.1.1 Enterprise release, downloadable to licensed customers from Oracle Support, as a browsable website for local installation. (Mostly created in MS Visio, so easy to tailor for specific implementations)

It's proving a real time saver in implementations for an industry that tends to be "non-standard". [Disclosure: I was an industry reviewer on the initial versions of the business processes]

Cindy Dy said...

Thank you for this post. Keep it up. Hope to read more post from you guys.