Killing a $20 Million Project

In 2008 I was assigned to a major IT manufacturer in Silicon Valley which suffered a $30 million supply chain failure.  Their resident 25-year-old genius architect worked up a plan to upgrade their SAP system and my company won a sub-contract.   I wandered around the campus interviewing employees, and found

In 2008 I was assigned to a major IT manufacturer in Silicon Valley which suffered a $30 million supply chain failure.  Their resident 25-year-old genius architect worked up a plan to upgrade their SAP system and my company won a sub-contract.  

I wandered around the campus interviewing employees, and found a senior e-commerce architect who thought the removal of XML formatting (data integrity) from incoming supplier data caused the failure so I investigated further.  Large uploads from 10,000 suppliers came in daily with proprietary formats and were fed into a gigantor "IF..THEN" clause to parse out control signals to coordinate part orders.



We wrote up a joint presentation (partly shown here) and recommendation.

Enforce a common interface standard on suppliers and only send identifiers and timing signals into the B2B gateway.  Push parser maintenance back onto the suppliers to remove risk of a parse failure.


The project manager didn't like our slide show and the resident genius wanted me gone so I happily agreed to leave (the senior architect left later).   I was fairly sure of another failure because the real problem wasn't being addressed.

But that manager's face twitched and grimaced at my eagerness to leave.  The next week he wanted to discuss the presentation again but I'd quickly left that project.   About a month later, the senior architect emailed me that the project was suspended and "under review".    

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