Rapid Application Development: Flexible and Inexpensive! Sun Microsystem's Rapid Deployment Group recently announced a signficant victory over the "data rich, information poor" situation that has been plaguing some of its business operations. In a low-profile, grass-roots movement, the Rapid Deployment Group (RDG) quietly gathered input from users throughout the organization to contribute to the successful Logistics Operational Data Store (LODS), released just last week. 'QUOTE' 2. BUSINESS MODEL OVERVIEW. (Also called business objectives) Streamlining business practices, eliminating paperwork, and automating form generation is especially important for businesses that function in a highly fluid environment, such as manufacturing. Sun, like most large corporations, has many databases that hold selective pieces of information for each part of the organization. The $7-million computer and peripheral manufacturing business needs to keep close watch on portions of data from several different systems, including sales, inventory, and manufacturing backlog. For each stage in the sales cycle, managers must compare material expenses with current inventory and projected requirements. Unless they can correct backlogs immediately, an entire shipment can go from being a profitable activity to a loss. During LODS development the small user community required rapid response and exceptional performance from the emerging application. "Part of the project's success," says its architect Johan Back, "is due to the trust we were able to build with users. They told us what they liked about different systems and reports, and we were able to emulate all the best of their suggestions. TRIMapp and TRIMreports' flexibility allowed us to respond to their desires without compromising development schedules. "Bridging the barriers between classical functional organizations, which is critical to the success of a project like this, allowed us to provide internal metrics that helped our users make better business decisions." 3. HOW do the business objectives give rise to the need for technology? (What was the business problem?) Buyers worldwide can now see the ramifications of vendor non-deliveries. Running a report of inventory status against backlog and simulating decommit of parts, they can make better business decisions about how to mitigate delays in shipping and other scheduling slips. The company can also get up-to-the -minute metrics on global customer experiences for cycle times that masures customer schedule date, request date, and shipt date. 5. What are the issues in deploying the technology? (How they did it?) Trifox solution interacts with both required databases, Oracle and Sybase, as well as the legacy data stored in the mainframe. TRIMpl's unique memory lists helps balance the load on databases. Pulling extracts from the manufacturing mainframe keeps reported data up to date. The Java version of TRIMqmr, the ad hoc query tool, is available through a browser on any desktop for selected expert system users to perform their own ad-hoc queries. The Backlog Requirement Planner rests on a VORTEX++ library with a TRIMapp-designed interactive front-end, available in ultra-thin client Java. The bill of materials drill down tool uses VORTEXperl for the application interface. The data mart is scalable since it was designed with partitioned tables. 4. Why they chose us/our partner as a technology vendor. (I'd put this after #5, I think) ... *High functionality "off the shelf" and database independence makes it possible to build an application once with the option to deploy it worldwide. VORTEX allowes developers to program to a stable interface. Hiding relational database-specific code from programms, while at the same time providing flexibility and power for data access with the TRIMpl language, increased productivity and flexibility. *Integration with legacy data and other applications. Access to extracts from the mainframe made more data available. Using TRIMtools made accomplishing the extracts easier, reducing development effort. TRIMtools provided better "out of the box" performance than achievable in C. Relevant information capturd by other applications is automatically fed into the new system. Throughout the month managers can query the system and receive online reports of critical progress data. *Open architecture. Customizable regardless of hardware platform, database, and most importantly business practices. 6. How the technology solved the problem/ What we did for them. Successfully implemented a global application. Turnaround for reports was reduced from 6 months to 2 days, worldwide. Low maintenance lots of user input. 7. Level of satisfaction (testamonial) TIPS for GOOD ENDINGS 1. Tell 'em what you've told 'em. 2. Open new possibilities ... hint at what is now available. (The new shiny oven lets them make the best breads, and now they're even experimenting with cookies.) 3. Strong quotation. OTHER TIPS 1. "I am an expert simplifier" ... neither pose or apologize for your level of technical knowledge. Don't be afraid in the interview to respond with VAST simplifications of what the interviewee just said. Use the position that if they talk to you simply then you can get it right, which is the best thing for them, too. 2. Respect conservative perspective regarding their trade secrets. 3. Careful use of jargon increases readers' confidence that you are an expert (or, rather, your interviewee is).