Is there anything worse than a crashed Endpoint?

STEP is likely to be a core system for any organisations that have invested the time and money to implement it. Consequently, there will be large quantities of data going in or out at various times, in many cases complex Business Rules must be adhered to/executed. The last thing the Business needs is one or more of these processes failing. So why do integrations or event processors crash? And what happens when they do?

What does STEP capability look like in your organisation?

A sneak peek into the workings of an innovative STEP MDM development team. I will discuss some of our responsibilities as designers and developers of the system, and how the Business are able to leverage this capability to continuously expand the benefits that STEP delivers..

How do you stay an expert in your own area of expertise?

Stibo Systems talked about Innovation, Partnerships and Sustainability as the three pillars of their corporate strategy. Sometimes these high level values can feel very abstract when you’re wrestling with the challenge of maintaining your in-depth knowledge of your STEP system at the same time as adding new features and enhancements to satisfy your business users.

Why Data Veritas, why now?

Data Veritas is me trying to help myself get better; by reflecting, by exercising my professional chimp, by documenting past glories and failures. Along the way it may help others. Either others like me, STEP Consultants, or perhaps “down-in-the-dirt” business users. You know… the ones who actually have to use the system once it’s been delivered.

How do you stay an expert in your own area of expertise?

I just got back from the Stibo Connect conference in Madrid, where I spent lots of time talking to people from other organisations that have either implemented STEP, are implementing STEP, or are supporting other organisations to exploit the opportunities and potential that having an MDM system brings. Connect is Stibo’s customer conference and the idea is that customers can come together in one place and discuss their journeys with STEP in an environment where Stibo’s experts and partners are close at hand to offer advice and support.

It was so fascinating to observe the true breadth of organisations from a huge range of industries that are leveraging the same piece of software. STEP was being used as a Product Information Management (PIM) system, a Knowledge Management System (KMS), a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system, a headless content management system and, of course, as a Multi domain Master Data Management System – this is the STEP bread and butter, and it’s how we use it at PLUS Retail. It’s evident that given the wide range of industries, organisations and use cases that it’s a real challenge to remain an expert across the board. Although I would probably claim that I can do most things related to STEP there’s clearly value in ensuring that you don’t spread yourself too thinly. 

At PLUS Retail we have a good balance, we ensure that members of our team have a specific area of the system that they are primarily responsible for. This approach helps to ensure that we can understand very deeply the part of the system, and the overlying data, we are working on to deliver the best value for our business users. This thought led me on to considering whether this is the case for all other organisations, or whether there is a challenge to deliver mature and effective new features because of the fact that the team just does not have the scope to specialise. 

It’s something I’d like to know, because my fear is that there are organisations out there not quite able to tease out and maximise the benefits that an MDM system like STEP can bring. Perhaps there are teams of 2 people, perhaps you are the only STEP technical user in the organisation, or perhaps there are even larger teams that have very mature complex solutions… do you feel like you are 100% covering the features and enhancements that you are delivering? Do you feel that there is time spent reminding yourself how a particular feature of STEP works, or how the solution has been configured? 

At PLUS we are really pushing ourselves on this front to ensure that we are delivering features for the business that are effective, but also easily maintainable by other members of the STEP team, precisely to try and mitigate this issue of time spent re-learning things about our implementation. We try to have clearly written code, with the right amount of comments to ensure readability and understanding. We also use Confluence to document some of the larger features, but in all honesty it is rarely referred to.

After seeing a session in Madrid by Balluff, who are using STEP as the Knowledge Management data master in addition to the core function as a PIM, I will probably be discussing knowledge management as a topic within our STEP Team. We have a weekly team meeting where we discuss these kinds of topics, as well as many others, and help each other to deliver high quality robust features. The work Balluff have done will be a really interesting talking point. I suspect that we are quite fortunate at PLUS to have a STEP Team that work in this way, and I have a great amount of pride in the way that we, as technical consultants, are innovating in this area for PLUS Retail. 

Please reach out to me if you have any comments on this topic, I’d really love to hear about how other organisations are coping with the challenge of remaining an expert on your own implementation.