I have been sitting on this post for some time as I have been on-site at my client's distribution center, busy with several tasks during the day and working the evenings to synch up with the global team or prepare for the following day. Because this post and the next few are the most important in this series, I wanted to make sure I had some time to sit down and carefully lay out the content I have prepared. Admittedly, I am more deliberate with regards to developing my thoughts and don't mind a delay if I can promise a high quality post.
In previous posts, I have discussed the obvious need for a global IT roll-out template and the ideal approach to take in designing and utilizing the template. In addition, I referred to the example of Development-in-a-Box (DiB) as reflecting the approach and principles I have described as the most appropriate for launching a template across a variety of borders and cultures (let's think in terms of office-specific cultures as well as country-specific cultures). However, an approach and set of principles next needs a framework or an organizing structure that lends itself to a rapid launch on a global scale.
It is common these days in many businesses to think in terms of "modules" in regards to products and processes. Usually, several modules run on the same platform or logic so that users can simply "plug-and-play" as a module is required. For example, a manufacturing company might pull entire modules from several suppliers to plug into the final product. One of my previous employers, Denso, produced an entirely built HVAC module that could be snapped and screwed into vehicles at customers like Toyota and GM. Boeing has been utilizing this approach to build the new 787 Dreamliner, albeit with supply chain design issues. My own company, Manhattan, takes this approach with SCOPE. As long as the underlying platform--framework--is solid, several modules can be developed in parallel while ensuring they can be successfully and efficiently plugged into the end solution--whether it is an automobile, airplane or software package.
My opinion is that the framework for a global IT roll-out template should take on this modular structure but will be rooted in an underlying foundation built on the principles and approach outlined in earlier posts. Simply illustrated, I have created the below diagram to generically outline the framework:
In this diagram, the center pentagon is the foundation upon which the modules will plug into. These modules will be driven by a "community of practice" with similar principles and an adherence to the OODA loop concept. This is the most generic form of the template.
To move beyond this, the next step I would like to make is defining the core modules themselves, including the foundation in a more universally usable manner. When doing this, I referred back to the supply chain architectures outlined by Dr. Cavinato and extensively discussed in my post on the FAR Matrix (Flows-Architectures-Resilience Matrix). Reading that post would not be a waste of time before reading further. However, to quickly refresh memories, the five supply chain architectures are: physical, financial, informational, relational and innovational. As a result, the illustration above takes on the following evolution:
These modules are pieces of the framework that those from any country can relate to and thus allow this framework to bridge easily across borders and cultures towards synchronizing multiple, decentralized implementation teams.
In my next few posts, I will go through each module and further explain their relevance to the global deployment of supply chain technology. I will also discuss the in-module categories where rule-sets could be established in order guide such a deployment, which is typically a longer, strategic initiative. The extended duration of such initiatives naturally means that maintenance of the global design will be strained, and the global team likewise strained. The global IT roll-out template I am putting forth is not only an essential tool in maintaining the core intentions of the global design, but also a tool able to cultivate an environment of innovation, while easing the strain on the global-level project team.