SOA for New Look
By David Dorf-Oracle on Jan 11, 2009
There were lots of press releases germane to the retail industry this week, principally to mark retail’s yearly conference, NRF. Oracle had its share, which you can review here. One jumped out at me because it was related to my previous post on the topic of SOA. New Look is a 600 store fashion chain based in the UK. They own several Oracle Retail products as well as non-Oracle products, so they aren’t much different than most retailers. The press release touts yet another SOA success story, so there’s nothing notable there.
But if you dig a little deeper and ask why they were successful, the story gets a little more interesting. As I’ve said previously, successful projects are about delivering what the business needs, and that’s the focus on New Look’s “Darwin Project.” They do not look upon their SOA transformation as an IT project. Rather, it’s an “evolution through innovation” that is led by the business with IT’s help. From the press release:
As one of the first retailers globally to deploy SOA to achieve process excellence, New Look has championed a business-led approach, in contrast to other organisations adopting a technology or integration approach. By focusing on the business objectives, SOA has quickly gained momentum across New Look’s trading floor.
The first two areas they tackled were markdowns and purchase order management. For each area, they started by defining the “as is” and “to be” business processes. Knowing they couldn’t deliver everything at once, they divided the processes into phases that could be delivered over time. For each phase they defined the portlets, BPEL processes, services, and BAM dashboards/alerts necessary to support the business.
Their approach should serve as model for other retailers that follow.