Author Archives: Pete Marchetti

The Importance of Risk and Change Management Policies

As organizations continue to look for improved efficiencies and reductions in cost, significant emphasis is being placed on “Change Management” – particularly at a time when legacy applications are being replaced with newer, “leading edge”, technologies.  The ability for an organization to develop and execute critical risk and change management policies will often result in the success or failure of that organization.  Internal stress can be minimized if such policies are evaluated and put in place before (and utilized during) any implementation occurs.

Ask yourself the following two questions:

1.      How would our organization react if a critical business application or integration database became corrupted?

2.      What might happen if we implemented a change to a production data transformation process (e.g. APP/DB to XML) without first testing that change?

Risk management is forecasting and rating issues and formulating resolutions before a problem occurs.  This rating is a contrast of the likelihood of an issue to occur versus how significant the consequences are if the issue does occur.

Responding to the first question, if the database is unrecoverable then there are major consequences as all the objects within the application and database would need to be recreated.  Since this is a critical risk issue, proper backup and restoration procedures should be in place before the system is moved to a production state.

Responding to the second question, this relates to both change and risk management.   The possibility for failure is largely dependent on the severity of the change being made.  The consequences could include the transformation process failing completely, or the receiving entity rejecting all data.  If this represented high volume business transactions, reprocessing the erroneous data may impact system performance.  Depending on the time sensitivity of the data, the consequences can vary from minimal to severe.

Question:  How do we circumvent such a risk?

Answer:  Adopting a change management policy for updating production configurations.

By employing a fully-functional development system, changes to existing production configurations can be tested and then approved for production so the risk of a failure can be minimized or possibility eliminated.

The key to a successful implementation of a business integration application is to adopt strict risk and change management policies before moving into a production state.

EDI or XML: Which Do You Choose?

Many considerations must be assessed when deciding on a standard format for exchanging information electronically with trading partners.  Two of the more widely used document standards are Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and Extensible Markup Language (XML).  Of course, when doing business with buyers and larger partners it is generally necessary to comply with the requirements of those trading partners.  However, it is good practice, and demonstrates good business sense, to be proactive and develop an in-house (internal) data specification (and format) that will provide an option for smaller partners to comply with.

Questions must be answered before best decisions can be made for your needs.  Continue reading