Sunday, March 11, 2007

Now is the winter of our discontent...

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If this week's weather was any guide, we're looking at a glorious spring here at ASU. And in anticipation of that glorious spring, this past Friday, we had a little thank you picnic on the Hayden Lawn to recognize the hard work of the OASIS team, complete with yours truly in a Dunk Tank. Make no mistake. This was no "Mission Accomplished Celebration" to be sure. We're not hanging any banners yet. Everyone on the team knows we still have a long way to go, and a short time to get there. As I told the team on Friday, in the words of Winston Churchill, "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps the end of the beginning!!!"

And taken all in all, it's been a good beginning. Given the way this team has hit its deadlines, deployed the systems, and shown an incredible ability in responding to problems to ensure that a system once deployed stays deployed, a beautiful late-winter afternoon was as good an excuse for a MidPoint Picnic as we needed.

For an ERP project of this magnitude, one that is just past its first birthday, OASIS is in awfully good shape. We've met every milestone so far. We're still under budget. The new system is already posting jobs and processing applicants. The schedule of classes is online. The student records are already converted, more than 50,000,000 of them. We're successfully processing student applications and we've been admitting students since November. We're computing their financial aid and we're registering them, by the thousands.

So while nobody's planning to don a flight suit and land on an aircraft carrier any time soon, its still useful to take a minute to take stock. And as I look at it, I have to say that ASU's strategy of Implement, Adapt, Grow is succeeding.

Recall that ASU opted for Implement, Adapt, Grow to avoid the Frankenstein Factor, a phenomenon I warned of in September of 2005. The Frankenstein Factor occurs when complex systems are developed, often over a period of years, without coming into regular contact with reality. Created in a castle laboratory, far from the pressures of the real world, the entire system is carefully designed and assembled, all the complex pieces carefully tried against test suites, and then assembled to create a whole. Only after the monster is complete do its creators jolt it with electricity in the appropriate fashion, bring it dramatically to life, and proudly lead it down to the public square to live among the people.

Who, of course, run screaming...

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