Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Other Side of the Boat

If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.

For the past 30 years, I've been part of the team that has supported, enhanced, redesigned, modernized, and migrated the MRP/ERP software for a manufacturing facility whose primary mission was to overhaul, upgrade, and support one of the most fascinating and complex weapon systems within the US Navy, the Phalanx. To say that the journey has been challenging would be a gross understatement.  Doing ERP in an overhaul environment is no simple task to begin with; doing it in the Defense/Aerospace sector adds to the degree of difficulty.  Add to that a weapon system with over a dozen levels to its indented bill of material, with over a hundred variations to the end item configuration, and over fifty thousand nodes of preferred and optional components within each of those configurations, and you've got yourself an essentially overwhelming wave of data flowing through a constantly changing environment.  It's enough to drown a small army of analysts.

We have developed tools.  We have developed a lot of tools: analytical tools, forecasting tools, performance measurement tools, capacity planning tools, financial tools, sales and operations planning tools, proposal pricing tools, earned value management tools.  We have developed the tools needed to survive and the tools needed to thrive.  We have developed them quickly, to respond to urgent needs, and refined and improved them over a period of decades, to meet changing needs, growing appetites, and increased capabilities of the underlying technologies.  We have migrated these tools from one platform to another, through each new generation of technology, binding them together with a tightly interwoven infrastructure of interfaces and integration.  We have matured in our understanding of which tools help in which circumstances, and which tools add light and clarity where it is most needed.

Yet most of what we have developed and achieved has been isolated.  We haven't wanted it to be, but the urgent demands of a dominant customer have consumed our attention and focused our energies in one particular place.  All along, we have been increasingly nagged by a sense that our tools would be useful and valuable to other clients as well.  We've been designing everything we do with that in mind, without knowing how our when we might find an opportunity to offer our growing and improving suite of manufacturing and financial software to a broader range of clients, with a diverse set of needs and ambitions.

Until now.

Next week, we will unveil our cloud-based ERP solution.  We named it IMI, for we believe you will find it to be the most richly integrated manufacturing intelligence system you have seen.  It is version 3.0, the first version designed to work in the cloud, but equally able to thrive to an on-premises application.  We have built several on-line demonstration companies - from the very simple to the moderately complex - so that we can demonstrate many of the tools and features, and allow you to browse the data and experiment with its capabilities.  Other features are readily available, not easily demonstrated on a small sample company, but tested and proven in a dynamic environment on one of the most complex systems on the planet.

We are, to put it mildly, excited about this transition.  To borrow a treasured metaphor, we're casting our nets on the other side of the boat.  And we proudly believe and deeply hope that many businesses -- small to large, simple to complex -- will find our tools helpful, intuitive, streamlined, and sensible.  We want to help businesses succeed and thrive.  We want to help workers and managers understand their own business with greater clarity; we want to help people function more efficiently, more productively.  We want to continue to design, develop, and improve our suite of tools in ways that fit many unique requirements, and enhance many creative ideas.

There is no way to know what the future holds.  The best you can do is to do what you do best, to do it well, and to pursue the opportunities that come your way.  We have done the work, and prepared our tools.  We are ready to serve, anxious to support, and eager to excel.  It's now time to cast our nets, on the other side of the boat.

Anxiously and expectantly,


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