The Holidays are a great for watching “End of the World” shows on the History Channel. They were a great comfort, actually almost encouraging, because all of the prophecies target 2012. “The Bible Code II”, “The Mayan Prophecies”, and the Big 2012 Special compendium of End of the World scenarios, covering Nostrodamus to obscure German prophets, all agree that 2012 is the big one (Dec 21 to be exact!) What a relief!, the rest of the news reports are trending to canned goods, shotguns, and gold by the end of the year. We really have almost a whole 48 months before everything goes bang (I wasn’t ready anyway, procrastination rules!).
Unfortunately, we need to do some IT planning and budgeting for the new year and probably should have some thoughts going out 36 months (after that see the first paragraph). As I discussed in a prior blog, the reporting, BI/CPM/EPM, and analytics efforts are the strongest priority; followed by rational short cost savings efforts. All organizations must see where they are heading and keep as much water bailed out of the corporate boat as possible. Easy call, job done!
Then again a horrifying thought occurred to me, what if one of these initiatives should fail? (see my nightmares in prior blog posts on Data and Analytics). I am not saying I’m the Mad Hatter and the CEO is the Red Queen, but my head is feeling a bit loosely attached at the moment. Management cannot afford a failed project in this environment and neither can the CIO in any company (remember CIO=Career Is Over).
The best way to ensure sucessful project delivery (and guarantee my ringside lawn chair and six-pack at Armageddon in 2012) lies in building on best practice and solid technical architecture. For example, the most effective architecture is to use a layer of indirection between the CPM application (like Planning & Budgeting) and the source data systems (ERP, Custom transactional). This layer of indirection would be for data staging, allowing transfer to and from fixed layouts for simplified initial installation and maintenance. In addition, this staging area would be used for data cleansing and rationalization operations to prevent polluting CPM cubes with uncontrolled errors and changes. In terms of best practice, libraries and tools should be used in all circumstances to encapsulate knowlege rather than custom procedures or manual operations. Another best practice is to get procedural control of the Excel and Access jungle of wild and wooley data which stands ready to crash any implementation and cause failure and embarassment to the IT staff (and former CIO). When systems fail, it is usually a failure of confidence in the validity or timeliness of the information whether presented by dashboard or simple report.
CPM, EPM, and Analytics comprise and convey incredibly refined information and decisions of significant consequence are being made within organizations to restructure and invest based on this information. The information and decisions are only as good as the underlying data going into them. So skimping on the proper implementation can put the CIO’s paycheck at serious risk (Ouch!).