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To my own astonishment, there are times when I appear to be the "smart guy in the room." In fact, when I delivered the last new employee training, someone jokingly changed my title to Condescente. Or, was that Cognoscente?
Whatever, my point is... that it's not that difficult to accomplish really big goals when you keep just one or two minor points top of mind. For example,
Here it is, everyone together... SOA What?
How many of us have read/written page-after-page of RFP wondering what it all means? I remember one where it seemed that the RFP was simply an aggregation of every possible WS-standard, real or imagined (I mean, emerging). It was a little odd - though we won anyways! And, while the process served to educate and build a relationship with the customer, I don't really believe it helped them pick the "best" vendor for the solution they ultimately deployed. The requirements were too vague and decoupled from the implementation.
On the other side of the spectrum, the best process I have ever experienced was run by WebLayers for a financial customer in NY and London. What made it good? It was simple. They went to a dozen vendors and asked one product/technology related question. The question was, "what ten things should we consider when evaluating your product?" Simple, huh? From there, they had over 100 questions on which to structure their conversations with the vendors to help them understand our strategies, directions, and products. The presumption being that the customer understood their own strategies and directions, and were able to select a partner they thought would be the best long term fit. That's not to say it was a short process, nor was it easy.
Please, don't confuse simple with simplistic. Brevity, conciseness, and focusing on only the really important things is what makes people and projects successful. (Ironic, in this blog post, huh?)
Keeping with the theme of simplicity, I want to share something from another customer who recently selected our product. I'm always curious why people select Actional (curious, not surprised). It's funny how rare it is to have a simple answer to the question of why we've been selected.
For this customer, key goals of SOA and Web Services Management were defined as the following basic needs to be met in order to avoid pain:
And, in case this doesn't get the message across, they reinforced that "it's all about supporting the business."
Simple. Simple goals, simple strategy, and most importantly, simple to measure success!
If you're not sure where to start when defining your SOA and Web Services Management initiative, start by figuring out what to measure. Add in requirements for scalability and performance, and perhaps consistency across a vendor's product line, and you've got all the right ingredients for success. Just start!
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