Mike Chandler, Qualcomm
Q: Did you run into any issues when integrating all of the different applications together?
A: Definitely, our main challenges were in the area of user provisioning and security propagation, all the standard stuff you might expect when hooking up SSO for authentication and authorization. In addition, we spent several iterations getting the UI’s in sync. While everyone was given the same digital material to build too, each team interpreted and implemented it their own way. Initially as a user navigated, if you were looking for it, you could slight variations in color or font or width , stuff like that. So we had to pull all the developers responsible for the UI together and get pixel level agreement on a lot of things so we could ensure seamless transitions across applications.
Q: What has been the biggest benefit your end users have seen?
A: Wow, there have been several. An SSO enabled environment was huge a win for our users. The portal application that this replaced had not really been invested in by the business. With this project, we had full business participation and backing, and it really showed in some key areas like the shopping experience. For example, while ordering in the previous site, the items did not have any pictures or really usable descriptions. A tremendous amount of work was done to try and make the site more intuitive and user friendly. Site performance has also drastically improved thanks to new hardware, improved database design, and of course the fact that ADF has made great strides in runtime performance.
Q: Was there any resistance internally when implementing the solution? If so, how did you overcome that?
A: Within a large company, I’m sure there is always going to be competition for large projects, as there was here. Once we got through the technical analysis and settled on the technology choices, it was actually no resistance to implementing the solution. This project was fully driven by the business with the aim of long term growth. I can confidently say that the fact that this project was given the utmost importance by both the business and IT really help put down any resistance that you would typically see while implementing a new solution.
Q: Given the performance, what do you estimate to be the top end capacity of the system?
A:I think our top end capacity is really only limited by our hardware. I’m comfortable saying we could grow 10x on our current hardware, both in terms of transactions and users. We can easily spin up new JVM instances if needed. We already use less JVM’s than we had planned. In addition, ADF is doing a very good job with his connection pooling and application module pooling, so we see a very good ratio of users connected to the systems vs db connections, without impacting performace.
Q: What's the overview or summary of feedback from the users interacting with the site?
A: Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from both the business and our customers. They’re very happy with the new SSO environment , the new LAF, and the performance of the site. Of course, it’s not all roses. No matter what, there are always going to be people that don’t like the layout or the color scheme, etc. By and large though, customers are happy and the business is happy.
Q: Can you describe the impressions about the site before and after the project within Qualcomm?
A: Before the project, the site worked and people were using it, but most people were not happy with it. It was slow and tended to be a bit tempermental, for example a user would perform a transaction and the system would throw and unexpected error. The user could back up and retry the steps and things would work fine, so why didn’t work the first time?. From a UI perspective, we’d hear comments like it looked like it was built by a high school student.
Vince Casarez & Gourav Goyal, Keste
Q: Did you run into any obstacles when implementing the solution?
A: It's interesting some people call them "obstacles" on this project we just called them "dependencies". There were both technical and business related dependencies that we had to work out. Mike points out the SSO dependencies and the coordination and synchronization between the teams to have a seamless login experience and a seamless end user experience. There was also a set of dependencies on the User Acceptance testing to make sure that everyone understood the use cases for how the system would be used. With a branching into a new market and trying to match a simple user experience as many consumer sites have today, there was always a tendency for the team members to provide their suggestions on how things could be simpler. But with all the work up front on the user design and getting the business driving this set of experiences, this minimized the downstream suggestions that tend to distract a team. In this case, all the work up front allowed us to enumerate the "dependencies" and keep the distractions to a minimum.
Q: Was there a lot of custom work that needed to be done for this particular solution?
A: The focus for this particular solution was really on the custom processes. The interesting thing is that with the data flows and the integration with applications, there are some pre-built integrations, but realistically for the process flow, we had to build those. The framework and tooling we used made things easier so we didn’t have to implement core functionality, like transitioning from screen to screen or from flow to flow. The design feature of Task Flows really helped speed the development and keep the component infrastructure in line with the dynamic processes. Task flows and other elements like Skins are core to the infrastructure or technology stack of Oracle. This then allowed the team to center the project focus around the business flows and use cases to meet the core requirements and keep the project on time.
Q: What do you think were the keys to success for rolling out WebCenter?
A: The 5 main keys to success were: 1) Sponsorship from the whole organization around this project from senior executive agreement, business owners driving functionality, and IT development alignment; 2) Upfront design planning and use case definition to clearly define the project scope and requirements; 3) Focussed development and project management aligned with the top level goals and drivers; 4) User acceptance and usability testing along the way to identify potential issues and direct resolution of the issues; and 5) Constant prioritization of the issues for development to fix by the business. It also helps to have great team chemistry and really smart people working on the project.
If you missed the webcast, be sure to catch the replay to see a live demonstration of WebCenter in action!