This is the second imaginary company I want to use to frame IT infrastructure issues. The goal today is to lay out it's core business plan and set up the question: what computer systems technology makes sense for them and how should it be structured?
In brief, a guy named Frank Solid has put together a group whose collective goal is to make high quality brass products for the home construction and renovation markets. They're committed to manufacturing in the United States, plan on developing their domestic markets first, and expect that growing credibility with the American design community will later drive expansion into world wide export marketing.
Their plan is aggressive, with a third year revenue target of $500 million, $80 million to burn getting there, and product plans ranging from exterior door knobs to kitchen faucets and specialist lighting fixtures.
From an IT perspective some of the things that count include:
Note that the nature of the market means that the company can expect a lot of customer anxiety about product design, delivery, and quality issues - meaning that the designers on the company's front line need to be protected from customer calls on where something is in the production process, on how to expedite shipping, or whether a twisted brass screw can be replaced at Home Depot. As a result the plant gate logistics operation has to be planned as part call center, part service center, and part shipping center.
Now, as you can imagine, my first reaction to the IT challenge is going to be based on finding the right ERP/SCM software to run this business on Solaris with Sun Rays and Mac laptops - but that's the real challenge: given these start-up parameters (and any others we need along the way) what's the right thing to do here? - and what other conditions do we need to establish to discuss it?