It was in the fall of 2010 when I got a call that began my engagement on one of the most interesting projects that I have worked on in recent times.
The situation, the project was with one of the leading product safety regulators in the world. The international arm of the organization was leading an initiative to create a global information pool for product safety recall information in an effort to make product safety efforts across the world more coordinated and effective. This would be a one stop, one shop view to “any recall – any where – any time” product safety recall information.
Armedia was asked to perform an initial assessment of what it would take a build a global recall information pool, build a roadmap for the process and structure the approach for the global consortium. This was a pure play Information Technology (IT) strategy project where the focus was on creating an IT approach to meet a complex business situation.
What I loved about the project was the challenge of a highly unstructured business situation where the project sponsors understood the pain and knew the desirable outcome, but they had little understanding of what needed to be done.
Building an approach for an IT system in the area of product safety was a challenge, as I soon discovered. Several factors contributed to the challenge, they included, (a) plethora of legacy IT deployments, (b) changing data structures and data definitions over time, (c) different data structures and definitions across countries, and (d) project execution headwinds (Note: Our team ran into a situation of competing for attention amongst different priorities both within the organization and with 3rd parties outside, in this case the consortium of product safety organizations from other countries).
So we walk into the situation not knowing all the pieces of the puzzle and the Armedia team immediately began an assessment of the situation. Quickly the team structured the analysis into the following topical areas:
- Governance and Oversight
- Functional Scope Definition
- Usability, Data Search, and Discovery
- Deployment and Execution
Next came a deep dive into each area to develop specific recommendations and a roadmap at a granular level. Data categorizations, normalization and data definitions were all important areas of focus given the complexity of handling these items across different jurisdictions. I believe that our team’s recommendations around this area were excellent and well received by the international community, especially because our approach required minimal impact to current product safety operations, which was a key requirement by the sponsors.
We brought value in terms of providing structure and simplification for execution to what seemed at the outset to be a complex problem. The Armedia report on “Considerations for Pursuing Global IT Interoperability for Publicly Available Product Recalls ” was published by the OECD (Organization of Economic Development) and has been accepted as the strategic guidance document by the international product safety working party set-up for the purpose of creating the global recall pool. The execution work on report recommendations has started and is currently underway.
This complex business issue was in need of a technology execution plan that was intentionally kept simple, and yet met the unique requirements of the customer. My team and myself guided our efforts in order to meet these criteria, and in the end the Armedia team successfully developed recommendations that provided both strategic and efficient solutions to this international IT challenge.