Microsoft Demos Management App at EAS'07

Attendees at Enterprise Architect Summit 2007 saw a keynote presentation on how Microsoft Services adds value as a consultant to businesses. The talk was given by Marc Baxter, Microsoft's business development manager for U.S. enterprise services. Joining him on stage was Kevin Brown, who handles business planning for Daisy Brand dairy products.

The talk included slides showing how a Microsoft program management application was used to assess enterprise resources at Daisy Brand. The program generates a high-level color-coded view of a company's resources, consisting of colored rectangles (red or green) indicating certain business processes. These colored rectangles are outlined by a red, yellow or green stroke. The combination of the two colors (rectangle and outline) indicates where oversight is needed most by management.

For example, a red rectangle outlined by red indicates that a company should review how those resources are being used. A green-green color combination suggests that things are probably OK. While the presentation just showed this symbolic view of the company's resources, Baxter said that underneath, there's a lot of detail behind the representations.

This system was able to indicate problem areas at Daisy Brand. For instance, Microsoft's solution indicated that the company had nine programs in place that were spending money on project management.

Daisy Brand was undergoing growth, and there was a need to get everyone on the same page, Brown said. He wanted a solution that would help personnel feel that they were part of the team in assessing resources. The essential problem was getting people to agree on what processes were most essential, Brown explained, and Microsoft's program management solution helped with that decision-making.

One problem in particular had to do with forecasting, which was being done by 15 people in the company's marketing department.

"We have people who are really good at forecasting. In fact, a lot of people are good at forecasting -- in their own minds," Brown said.

The worst of it was that elaborate reports provided by marketing to production were simply deleted without review. Production had already planned for the activity in advance and saw no use in the reports.

There was no cohesive view on how to communicate across organizations before implementing Microsoft's program management solution, Brown said. The solution helped to avoid the "Well, we do it this way"-type response from company employees about certain processes.

Baxter said that Microsoft's program management framework was initiated about seven years ago "in what we call the green house," and that it was later used to assess IT capabilities. The solution has been commercially available for two years and is currently being offered to enterprises through consultation with Microsoft Services.

Baxter explained that the solution isn't being offered via Microsoft's partners because Microsoft has several new patents associated with the technology that it wants to protect.

A video link to the presention shown at Enterprise Architect Summit 2007 can be found here.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.