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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Business Contingency Plan (BCP)

Previously, we analyzes Business Continuity Plan (BCP) for bird flu situations awareness.

Supply Chain Management:

Supply Chain Management is not a new topic. Same goes to supply chain management software.

I could still remember Nike and i2 failed supply chain web based project many years ago .... and had it been sorted out now ? They probably have, check out the customers listing. But that was many years ago, when Microsoft ASP was king and J2EE was still pretty much in infancy.

Supply Chain Disaster:

There is an article published from CIO magazine about how supply chain manangement problems give rise to IT projects disruption and revenue lost amounted to millions of dollars.

The title of the article is called "When Bad Things Happen to Good Projects" - Christopher Koch.

The article states that when HP was moving North American divisions onto a centralized ERP system from SAP, minor glitches in the rollout snowballed into a USD 160 million disaster.

The glitches was due to some data modeling issues between the legacy system and the SAP system. This problem caused the new system to not able to process some orders for customized products. Resulted in as many as 20% percent of customer orders for servers stopped dead.

They have been planning for it, but not comprehensive enough.. where they have planned for 3 weeks of extra servers and took over an empty portion of an HP factory in Omaha to stand by for any overflow of orders that needed special configurations.

HP CIO and Executive VP of Global Operations Gilles Bouchard deos not see the data modeling problems between the legacy and SAP systems as the source of the USD 160 million impact. He focuses on HP's inability to keep pace with orders in the supply chain once the problems were discovered. "It was capacity issues, material issues and factory issues," he says. "We had a series of small problems, none of which individually would have been too much too handle. But together they created the perfect storm."

Back to Nike again, they too faced similar disaster with their centralized SAP system in 2001, it was related to demand-planning application when it was made centralized.

The problem was tamed within a few weeks, but because the company did not have an adequate business contigency plan, the small glitch in IT cost Nike USD 100 million in revenue.


Supply Chain Economics:

So, small glitch and big money.

This made us realize one thing... big companies like Microsoft, HP, Dell, Apple, Google, IBM and etc cannot afford to lose time. They can afford to lose some money but not time, in order words, they cannot afford to lose supply chain of their money making activities.

This goes to explain why Microsoft won't do everything. If you are a budding entreprenuer, you might be wondering when you would be made obsolete by those giants especially Google when something is made free again and again. And as much as they want to, they can't afford it thoroughly either.

Microsoft is investing billions of dollars into developing Windows Vista and maintaining thousand of employees (software engineers) to keep up with the challenges faced by existing products such as Windows NT and XP. In fact, they have no time at all... and if you start to think that Bill Gates is going to hire a few Indian programmers to copy your idea, theoritically it is possible but in terms of supply chain economics, it will never ever happen. Because if you have a solution capable of doing RM 2 million annually, never assume that Bill Gates is even interested to think about it because he would have wasted many millions by investing time to think about it. For the worst case scenario, he might be considering acquiring you... This is why they have acquired software vendors like Navision, Axapta, Great Plains and Solomons...

Therefore, don't worry that why can't Microsoft do it and never think that Bill Gates envy you either. He is like superman, only got 24 hours per day.

Knowledge or Technology:

Thus, the knowledge of supply chain management is important. Because we need to be able to develop contingency plan for IT projects.

Even extending HP's business contingency plan to bank an additional few weeks' worth of servers might have seemed risky because those extra servers might not have sold. In most companies facing such decisions, CIOs feel more comfortable trying to eliminate project risk by perfecting their project management skills. This route appeals to our optimism and quest for competence, says Robert Charette, president of Itabhi, a risk management consultancy. Business contingency planning, on the other hand, is gloomy and expensive.

The big problem is the mind-set. IT projects are still ruled by two main factors; budget and schedule.

The worst thing is that cost-and-schedule approach never holds up during a crisis, says Charette.

For instance, when HP saw that the order management system wasn't working properly, it pulled out all the stops to get the code working properly - forgotten about the pre-planning based on cost-and-schedule.

How to avoid a USD 120 million order backlog:

HP's contingency plan accounted for the business impact of software snafus, but didn't comtemplate the worst-case scenario.

What HP Did:

Training:
- Began refresher training in the second week after rollout

Manufacturing:
- Stockpiled three weeks' worth of servers
- Added capacity only at Omaha factory prior to rollout.

Customer service:
- Manually entered orders into system two weeks after rollout, when problems with data model were fixed.
- Added more customer service reps when orders piled up.

What HP should have done:

Training:
- Begin refresher training in the first week of the rollout.

Manufacturing:
- Stockpile five or six weeks' worth of servers.
- Have additional capacity ready elsewhere before the rollout.

Customer Service:
- Devise manual order-taking process to be used until system problems were fixed.
- Train additional customer service reps prior to rollout so that they would be available to tackle backlog.

Conclusion:

As much the cost-and-schedule goes, many organizations fail to see the need for contigency plan which is usually resources hungry. And if you are thinking of convincing the bosses better, perhaps you want to get a formal education about supply chain management, check out MPICS/DB Business School.

Tools for contingency plan, check out NKK Technologies for Situation Awareness and Understanding software framework, CORE Systems (Complex Objects Realization and Exchange Systems)

"There is a big leverage between IT and the business processes when you deal with a large supply chain. Just looking at contigency plan from an IT point of view would be a big mistake. It has to be looked at from an integrated view of IT processes and the business" - Gilles Bouchard, CIO and VP of Global Operations HP.

Friday, August 25, 2006

employee.com.my

Most employees in Malaysia are ignorant of their rights and obligations at the workplace. When they encounter problems at the workplace, e.g. uncertain of their legal rights, or being victimised by their employers, they will usually seek help from their friends (who may be equally ignorant of the laws), or from lawyers (who do not come cheap), or from
the Labour or Industrial Relations Departments (which involves logistic and emotional inconvenience).

The launch of www.employee.com.my on this day (
19 June 2006 ) will address all of the above problems associated with workplace legal issues. It is open to all employees in Malaysia ... and most of all, it is FREE. Just register as a member, tell us your workplace problem, and we'll provide you with an answer. Just log-on to www.employee.com.my and follow the 3 simple steps.

www.employee.com.my

Friday, August 18, 2006

Business Continuity Plan - Bird Flu

Bill Gates has recently been really active with his pursuit for humanity work... he and wife wanted to become really compassionate. and they did..

According to the world wealthiest man, the AIDS epidemic is much worst than you think it is. There are 40 million people living with HIV currently, with growth rates of 4.3 million annually. First-line cost of treatments averaged at USD 200 and thus annual cost of treating everyone with HIV would be USD 13 billion a year and every year and so on. The biggest funding ever acquired from PEPFAR is USD 1.5 billion.

"The harsh mathematics of this epidemic proves that prevention is essential to expanding treatment. Treatment without prevention is simply unsustainable. " - Bill Gates

Bird Flu:

So, diseases are threatening and even worst, it has double impact on the economy when cases like bird flu arises. Previously, we did wrote about bird flu economy.

According to this article written by Juken Consultancy, bird flu pandemic is considered by World Health Organization (WHO) as something with magnitude of "when" and not "if".

Risk factors are extremely relevant towards business entities and thus a proper business continuity plan (BCP) is required. A BCP is not just a plan or complex reports... it also consists of other components such as collaboration and technologies... As Computer Associate would put it, it should consist of the following ..

  • Process
  • People
  • Product
  • Partners
Objectives of such BCP are:
  • Minimize Impact
  • Improve recovery time
According to Mr. KK Tan (CEO of Juken Consultancy), the ministry of health for Malaysia has provided standard guidelines for organizations to deal with such crisis, however organizations are supposed to prepare own BCP.

This is yet again, demonstrates the lackadaisical attitude at the government side. What CA preaches is true, to make things happen, the four key components has to be involved and collectively functional.

However, since it is much harder to move a crowd than moving ourselves, thus companies operating in Malaysia should not wait for the "when-if" to happen before getting ready with BCP.

Technology Providers:

Even though CA has a good concept about implementing effective IT governance, however, they do not have the right products to complement BCP for blue flu pandemic. CA has always been a good preacher about IT cost management...

On the other hand, EMC Corporation, whose bread and butter is mainly about business continuity with respect to data storage and management. EMC has allies like McDATA, Dell Computer, EDS, CSA, Fuji Xerox, VPI International, VMware Inc and etc.

However, the company (NKK Technologies) I am currently attached with does provide solutions for crisis management.

We do have a framework with three core modules:

  • Geomatic Mappings
  • Data management
  • Complex Reporting

Referring to the case study section, our solution is currently being appreciated by NATO for the purpose of crisis management.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The value of marketing

Google is able to make so much last year... USD 381.2 million and I would attribute it to the power of marketing in its ability to create values towards a brand, a product and hence company.

We don't see any Google salesman around Malaysia urging people to search the Internet so that it would get the advertisers fired-up.

In other words, the best way to make money is to let the product(s) sell by itself. And how we do that, that is through marketing.

Apple WWDC 2006:

Apple recently organized WWDC 2006 and at the keynote address, its CEO Steve Jobs did his best with marketing efforts.



1.33 million of Macs were sold last quarter... and this is evident how much profit Apple computers is generating because they have been selling the same concept of product called the Macs for many years. And it keeps selling and gaining more market shares. That is how they make money.

Fighting with Microsoft:


And it is interesting that they are teaming up with Intel for next generation performance processors.

For instance, during the keynote, Philip W. Shiller (SVP of Worldwide Product Marketing) announced two major products; Mac Pro and Mac Xserv both using Intel Xeon processor.

The Mac Pro has got a 64-bit architecture and 4 hard drives capability with potential storage of up to 2 terabytes data.

Now, it is interesting to me that why Apple chose to work with Intel totally, putting off IBM PowerPC. I would like to guess that one of the reason is the inability of IBM PowerPC to innovate faster compared to Intel. That is fair, secondly I really believe that they do it in order to capitalize on Microsoft market.

Microsoft has been leveraging on Intel for the success of its business. Of course, Intel needs Microsoft in terms of software innovation to pull through the sales of its new innovation, otherwise why do we need more computing power when there is no new software application ?

With the existence of this arrangement for many years, end-users have been, literally get used to the idea that Microsoft is Intel and vice versa. So, even when Microsoft fails to live up to expectations, such as the delay of Windows Vista for many years, Intel duo-core and other innovations will still save the day.

knowing this, Apple is quick to capitalize the situation, partnering with Intel since last year (2005) and had since perform a total switched-over of all its products from Power-PC.

The good thing here is that users who are not too satisfied with Microsoft software platform but are strong fans of Intel may have the option to switch over to Apple platform. Simple. Period.



Time-Machine:

The keynote also introduced 10 new features of the new Mac X OS codename Leopard. One of the features is known as time-machine.

Time-machine is essentially an intelligence technology which will just keep track of every single changes happening to all files, configurations and etc.

And its application is for backup automation.

For instance, if you had accidentally deleted some files or lost them due to corruptions, with the ability of time-machine, you will never lose those files. But then, there must be a way to distable time-machine for certain things such as secrets and lies.



Then again, congratulation to Steve Jobs and Apple for enlighting us with great technology movements.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Internet repression in Malaysia

Malaysia is like they said "macam macam ada"; simply put, having endless possibilities.

Previously, we did blog about ..

1. Against Internet Repression
2. Malaysia may one day censor the Internet.
3. Blog regulations

Recently, former prime minister and founder of modern Malaysia Tun Dr. Mahathir preached about the possibility of Internet censorship in Malaysia in the near future... He was quoted as saying ..

"Soon, the Internet will get it too… because we are an open society. Must censor the Internet. Only those (opinions) which support the government can be published…" - [Heads-up] [Source]

The Internet cannot be censored:

Internet cannot be censored because there is no way for us to audit correctness. One reason is that literally we don't pay for reading Internet contents. No one is responsible for users's time losses.

Secondly, if government-centric web site is deemed as politically-correct, why must there be Internet censorship. People should exercise self discretion.

Automation always fail in Malaysia:

Blogger SKTHEW did raise a good point regarding the fact that the world is now about connect and collaborated and also the phenomenon of blogshere is not something which having us to achive vision 2020 may pass by that.

But a bigger question is must Malaysia keep up with International standard of civilization ?

Malaysia is always a place where eventually, the concept of fully automation will not work. Somehow or rather, someone has to be there to make things look correct, such as having a gatekeeper keeping eye on parking entrance in case the ticket machine got stuck.

Thus, the mindset here is not to feel disoriented for having defined our own culture of being mildly conservative.

New Technologies:

Perhaps we should start to think about when Internet censorship does happen, what are we going to do ?

There is a possibility of having underground-alternative Internet facilities bypassing government registered ISP's gateway.

or perhaps, the new concept of Semantic Web would cause the government to have to think not twice but many times over against Internet repression. In time to come, there is no need to surf the Internet anymore.

Unless, there is nothing for Malaysian to surf ? ? ?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The selected disk contains one or more partition which cannot be moved

Have you ever tried using Partition Magic ? ? ? in Windows XP and encountered the problem known as "The selected disk contains one or more partitions which cannot be moved" ....



At first it seems like the current version(of Partition Magic) is not supporting Windows XP.


However, even installing the newer version would result similar ..

The work around is to do it manually, but what do we mean by manually ?

Refer to the screen capture series below ..

Select the partition you would like to partition further and then right-click.. then select "Resize/Move" ...


Enter details into the form. For instance, screen capture above illustrates allocation for 5Gig of space for new partition.



Then you will probably see the changes.

This is not it... Click on the "apply" button at the bottom left bar. The system will restart your PC/laptop and then it will perform the partitioning processes before bringing you back to Windows XP.

After that, Windows XP will detected a new device(physical partition) and install driver for it. It will prompt for restart again.

Then, once back to Windows XP, you will not see any changes under "My Computer" except that the hard disk on C has been reduced. You need to go back to Partition Magic to create logical partition on top of the physical partition and also format it according to your choice of file formats. (such as NTFS, FAT, Linux and etc)


After you are down, it is considered done. But partition magic will prompt you to run the Windows XP Backup Utility.

Proceed to do that to backup your files into the newly created partition.

Blogs regulation

Following the heads-up from Jeffooi where ...

Government must control the Internet (so that local IT graduates will have more jobs ..)
Fu-ed by The Stars (censor real opinions too!!!!)
Trust not the blogs (trust who then ?? blogs are free reading)
Keng Yik says no to Internet Censorship (at least until he steps down)
Internet control and politician (is everybody so interested with politics, c'mon ?)

Anyhow, Prime Minister of Malaysia has just approved of another major project for those ICT entrepreneurs out there.....

MALAYSIA IS SEARCHING FOR TECHNOLOGY TO CREATE A SECOND A LAYER INTERNET WHERE ITS CONTENT WILL BE FULLY REGULATED AND IS CONSIDERED SAFE FOR MALAYSIAN READINGS. [source here]

Good news for local search engines such as catcha.com, cari.com, skali.com.... Malaysia may one day bans Google, Yahoo and others from your Streamyx account.

Acts of provision for a mega search engine project under the 9th Malaysia Plan ?