We have defined taxonomies and now we have defined strategic taxonomies, so what is an engineered taxonomy?
Well, what is engineering?
I set out in 1989 to "bring the disciplines of engineering to the IT industry" and that remains my essential goal.
I have consistently explained this goal as "when you go to an engineer to design a bridge you get the bridge you asked for and IT STANDS UP".
I have amplified this over time with the realization that:
Engineers do NOT design bridges to stand up
è They design bridges NOT to fall down
So, an engineered taxonomy is a taxonomy designed NOT TO FAIL!
I have done a huge amount of work around this goal and, in the process, come to understand that strategic engineered precision taxonomies (SEPT) are an essential and integral part of ERP, datawarehouse (DW) and business intelligence (BI) configuration and operation.
In fact, I have come to conclude that if you do not have SEPT in your implementation you will NOT achieve the potential of your investment.
It is that simple!
So then, WHAT is an engineered taxonomy?
By rigorous I mean "no short cuts" – analyse every table and maintenance screen of every module of every system that makes up the entire information environment and be thorough and dogmatically scrupulous about analysing every single information item and then coding it.
Start at the beginning and proceed till you get to the end, you may need to iterate two or three times to build the complete picture. Structured system walkthrough's are the order of the day.
Make sure you visit every component.
Build every taxonomy systematically, hierarchically, in a structured way – hierarchy is by its nature systematic.
Do not use personnel or consultants who do not have a proven track record of working systematically.
Engineers design bridges down to "the last nut and bolt", engineered taxonomies are the same.
There must be a logical code bin for every piece of information at the most detailed level. Throwing large numbers of diverse transactions into one information bin is absolutely out.
The metaphor of screws in a hardware store à arrange all information in precise, small bins
NOT large buckets
Which is the norm in nearly all ERP implementations I have ever seen!
Cater for ALL reasonably foreseeable eventualities.
How do you do that? you may ask.
Well, start by using ALL the existing data as a "brainstorm list"—make sure that everything that has ever been encountered before is accommodated in your new taxonomies.
NOTE – I did NOT say copy those lists, I said use them as a source of ideas.
Copying old lists is the single biggest reason so many new ERP implementations are a mess and combining lists from several other implementations is a guaranteed way to fail.
Then get ALL the different knowledge and experience sets that represent the information space in a room in a workshop or series of workshops and challenge them to think about EVERYTHING that might possibly occur in that particular information set.
Then add structure to that list, NOT necessarily with all the parties present, typically a skilled facilitator will work alone or with one senior business representative to build comprehensive hierarchies that cater for all the information gathered during the brainstorm session.
Committees and teams are NOT good at building hierarchies, do not even attempt it!
Once you have a solid hierarchy test it with a few of the people who were in the brainstorm session and once you have refined the hierarchy in response to their input take the hierarchy to the whole team for review.
I have already touched on precision and it is discussed in more detail in a following section.
Precision is central to what is being described here.
We live in a precise world.
Our houses are built precisely, our cars are manufactured precisely, wherever we go we find precision, except in the information lists that drive our ERP's, data warehouses and business intelligence environments!
Those software systems are PRECISION MACHINES and precision machines only produce valuable outputs when they are used precisely and fed precise inputs.
It is a massive delusion of the business information space that systems fed with sloppy, illogical and badly structured data can produce precision decision support and business operation outcomes.
It is an even bigger delusion that personnel who have not be trained in depth in precision and discipline can produce precise configurations.
If you want a high value outcome then it is in your best interests to utilize the most disciplined staff who understand precision as an integral part of their training and day to day practice.
Engineers work in multi-disciplinary teams.
It is vital when developing engineered taxonomies to mobilize multi-disciplinary teams.
It is no good expecting just Finance or just Operations or just Human Resources or just … to produce a comprehensive engineered taxonomy, all the disciplines in the business who have knowledge and experience that has a bearing on the taxonomy MUST be engaged with during the development of the taxonomy.
AND leadership of this process, or at least custody of the leadership of this process must rest with an executive reporting directly to the CEO and the CEO MUST recognize that he or she is the custodian of the integrated view of the business.
Facilitating and consulting with all disciplines takes time, costs money and requires skilled high level facilitation from a facilitator who understands the multi-facetted nature of business and is able to engage effectively and intelligently with ALL role players and ALL stake-holders.
Complex engineered systems are designed and built by teams managed by mature, highly experienced, highly skilled engineers who know when to call in other specialists.
Engineered taxonomies should be designed and built the same way.
Engineered taxonomies are sustainable.
They are sustainable because every effort has been made to anticipate ALL future growth and information need scenarios.
They are sustainable because high level executive strategic input has engaged with the taxonomy to ensure that it fully takes account of all foreseeable growth.
They are sustainable because hierarchies and code schemes are spaced out and gap coded to accommodate reasonable growth.
They are sustainable because they are designed from the "ground up" to be sustainable.
8. Reliable and dependable
Engineered taxonomies are reliable and dependable because all the preceding HUMAN ACTIONS result in reliable and dependable outcomes.
An engineered "anything" is the result of meticulously directed, highly trained human creative talent mobilized in systematic disciplined thinking and doing that produces things that are reliable and dependable BECAUSE they were designed by professionals to BE reliable and dependable.
The design, configuration, deployment and operation of any major computerized system, be it an ERP, a data warehouse or a business intelligence solution is FUNDAMENTALLY an engineering endeavour and should be managed accordingly.
Strategic Engineered Precision Taxonomies are a fundamental component of an engineered computerized information system that is designed NOT to FAIL.
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Business Systems NOT delivering?
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Dr James A Robertson -- has been involved in the effective application of Business Information Systems, including but NOT limited to ERP, since 1987 and in the profitable and effective use of computers in Business since 1981.
Drawing on a diversity of experience, including formal military training in Quick Attack techniques at the Regimental Commander level, Dr Robertson has developed highly effective methods of investigating any sub-optimal Business Information Systems situation -- be it an established system or a stalled project or any other source of Executive frustration -- quickly and concisely diagnosing the root cause of the problem and prescribing concise practical actions that Business Executives can effectively act on see the Pulse Measurement page and also the Sample Reports page for redacted real reports.
He has also developed highly effective methods of strategically enriching systems to unlock the full potential of existing investments, see the Precision Configuration page and couples this to architecting small pieces of clever software that harness the full potential of your investment, see the Software page.
If you are having problems with your systems, your project or your IT Department, call The Business Systems Specialist
Business System Failure is RIFE -- we offer insight into why this happens AND WHAT is required to prevent it.
Failure is at epidemic levels with massive damage done to client companies -- if you are NOT aware of the extent of the problem please visit the About Failure page for a catalog of major failures running to billions of Pounds and Dollars.
All evidence indicates that the established players do NOT know how to deliver stable, reliable high value solutions that WORK.
There HAS to be a better way!
This website provides information relating to that way with a large collection of white papers, presentations, standards documents, etc that you can use to start bringing the situation under control
We also offer high level advisory services with regard to the application of the principles advocated on this website
We offer an ENGINEERING APPROACH to addressing these issues
By Engineering I mean the formal, structured, highly disciplined, highly systematic, highly practical approach that consistently delivers results in ALL areas of human endeavor where formally trained and certified engineers are the ONLY practitioners permitted to operate -- think large buildings, factories, motor vehicles, aircraft -- highly complex systems that work at a level that we take it for granted that they WILL work and where failure is all but unthinkable and, when it happens, attracts immediate public attention and rigorous investigation directed at ensuring that such failures are prevented in the future -- in fact, everything that the management consulting industry that implements complex software systems is NOT
This approach is discussed further on the Engineering Approach page.
In 2003 I undertook an in-depth analysis of all the information and experience that I had gathered with regard to the factors giving rise to Business Information System failure including ERP and general IT and classified this information into a number of categories including "The Factors Causing Failure" and "The Critical Factors for Success" based on this I developed a two day Course "The Critical Factors for Information Technology Investment Success" which is still offered today.
Based on this I wrote the book of the same name, which is available in electronic form here for download:
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About Dr James A Robertson PrEng -- The Business Systems Doctor -- and Other Topics
Catalogue of Major Business Information System Failures
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Old Software IS Viable
From South Africa
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Survival of the fittest – why it makes sense to measure the pulse of your business
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Strategic Essence: The Missing Link in Business Information Systems
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Strategic Essence: Part 4 -- The Essence should be the Point of Departure
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Strategy -- the Essence of the Business: What is it and how do you develop actionable strategic plans?
Simple Steps to Increase the Strategic Value of your ERP Investment
Free Strategic Snapshot Toolset and Manual
A strategy focused planning system beyond traditional budgeting
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Attributes -- answers to the questions you have NOT yet thought to ask
Case Studies of Notably Successful Projects with high value Precision Configuration
092 Doing things differently and better -- ASCO Case Study 2-- BPM Summit 2013
088 Strategic ERP Invesment -- ASCO Case Study -- Service Management Conference and Exhibition Africa
026 Information Architecture and Design of FIS for Rennies Group -- Financial Information Systems Conf
018 CRM Risk Control: Designing and Implementing an Integrated Risk Mgmt Sys -- Integrated Risk Mgmt Conf
011 V3 Consulting Eng: Benefits of MIS to Professional Practice -- SAICE 15th Ann Conf on Computers in Civil Eng
Strategically Enriching your Business Information Systems
Part 2 -- Principles of Data Engineering
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Simple Steps to increase the strategic information value yield from your Business Systems Investment
The Full JAR&A Taxonomy Manual
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A Moral and Ethical Dilemma -- Systems that Fail
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The Bridgestone -- IBM Conflict
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