Department of Defense Agency (2 weeks)
An agency within the Department of Defense needed to determine a set of requirements that could be successfully implemented by an implementation contractor. The agency was hard pressed to obtain a consensus on their requirements as so many of the "parties" were autonomous. To help arrive at a consensus specification, the agency had Whitemarsh conduct the course, Specifying the Corporate Business Model, that directly involved the participation of all the senior-level business experts. By the end of the week, there was a high level specification that was generally agreed to by all senior level staff. By high-level, the following items were completely defined:
- The business missions
- The scope (domain) the database,
- Database objects,
- The detailed data model
- The data model diagram
- The major data elements,
- The major data integrity rules, and
- The major business information systems required for correct application implementation and operation
To make all these items understandable, they were defined into the Whitemarsh repository, the metabase. Once this activity was accomplished the MIS staff of the agency was able fill out the "technical details," and to then issue a RFP for an implementer for the system's detailed specification and implementation. The system is running today.
Consulting Organization (9 months) (top)
Another Whitemarsh client employed Whitemarsh in a more intense way. The company was a contractor for the U.S. Army, and was located in the Midwest. The company was charged with developing a computer system that collected data from world wide locations through a telecommunications network, analyzed the collected data, and then published sets of statistics, which the Army used to determine availability, reliability, and maintainability for various Army components. The Army components were for example, the M1 battle tank, the Hawk missile, and various other types of weaponry.
Whitemarsh taught the Whitemarsh methodology, enabling the client to both fully define its enterprise database and to use it to communicate with a software subcontractor for actual system implementation and then ongoing maintenance. Whitemarsh's role was to review all deliverables, attend all project meetings, and provide data processing support in the use of the metabase. In this role Whitemarsh had a consultant present for over six months.
This client's was to build a generic specification for a system that could the reused to then build 15 different variations. The Whitemarsh payoffs to the client were in two areas: acceleration of specification and implementation, and a drastic reduction in ongoing system maintenance.
Under the old approach used by the client, systems were custom designed and implemented for the Army at a cost of about $300,000. In the three years since employing Whitemarsh, there were 15 systems implemented at a cost of about $45,000 each, a reduction of about 85%.
The second payoff area was in systems' maintenance. Because the client had fully implemented the metadata repository, metabase, which stored all both specification and implementation components, it was easy to determine the exact place for computer system's modification based on a changed requirement. When the Army wanted a change, the metabase was consulted, the change was specified, and then the change was implemented on the 15 different systems. Under the custom development approach that was in place before Whitemarsh, each system, analogous to a house, had to be completely torn down and replaced to make even the simplest modification. After Whitemarsh, the client merely replaced or moved a "prefab wall," or "self contained unit" to make most changes. The reason these changes were easy was because the system components were all designed to be changed, right from the start.
Manufacturing & Distribution Company (8 months) (top)
A third client employed Whitemarsh to directly help in the development of their enterprise database for their principal MIS systems. This consulting assignment occurred only after the Whitemarsh methodology was shown to be helpful in the implementation of an especially troublesome application.
The client used only a portion of the methodology, and a partial implementation of the metabase. With these two tools, the data analysts along with business experts were able to arrive at the business system's data model (subset of enterprise database) that guided the implementation of detailed systems' specification and implementation.
State Agency MIS Reengineering Project (1 month) (top)
A fourth client had a statewide MIS that collected and processed medical needs, financial, and medical services delivery information. The system was built by a nationally recognized consulting organization. While the system worked, the consulting organization made two fatal-to-the-state errors: the MIS was not built for maintenance, and its documentation was scant.
After a period of years, two critical issues arose: 1) the system was considered unmaintainable despite an increasing backlog of maintenance and enhancement requests, and 2) the computing platforms needed to be replaced.
The state agency hired another consulting organization that used Whitemarsh's metadata repository to reverse-engineer the existing system. Designing and building the metadata repository only took several weeks. State employees were taught how to use the metabase and then they were charged with reverse-engineering the existing MIS into the metabase. The whole effort took less than 2 staff years (spread across 4 staff members).
Once the existing MIS was stored into the metabase it was able to researched to then support the hardware platform transfer and the backlog of system upgrades and enhancements.
This same scenario was repeated for a worldwide manufacturing and distribution organization who had a dozen different inventory systems that were build during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. The business wanted a single, consensus-based mission, data, and process model.
The Whitemarsh metabase was employed to store the "as-is" existing models for data and process, and then to store the synthesized "to-be" model for mission, data and process. The "as-is" and "to-be" models were completely inter-linked that supported the production of change impact reports The entire effort took less than 6 staff months.
Federal MIS Audit Task Force (top)
This fifth Whitemarsh product use was performed by three different government agencies. Each effort was directed towards auditing the work of another contracting organization. The MIS in each case was considered a failure and the government agency wanted to understand what went wrong and why.
In each case the detailed Whitemarsh product taxonomy that supports the creation and delivery of all Whitemarsh methodology products was employed as the minimum essential product list that should have either been build or considered. The taxonomy was presented to the audit team and then revised as necessary.
Each of the MIS audit teams then used the audit product list to assess whether the MIS contractor had considered and/or produced the product. In all three audits, critical products were missing. The accepted findings showed, and it was concluded that these missing products led to the failures of all three MISs.