This blog is dedicated to open, interoperable manufacturing software and the coolest, latest and greatest things I see every day while conducting business under the banner of Inductive Automation.
Hello, my name is Steve Hechtman and I am president of Inductive Automation. During the span of one day there is more excitement, more discovery than I can possibly keep to myself. This blog is, therefore, my outlet. WARNING: This site is highly biased in favor of the most powerful, affordable manufacturing software in the world - Ignition by Inductive Automation!
Get IT On Your Side and They'll Seal the Deal For You
As you expand past plant floor controls you begin to enter into the domain of IT. But when you do so you will begin to work with IT folks. Believe me, you want IT on your side or your project will end up on a data island which is useless in an enterprise system.
So how do you do that? Well, first of all you better find out what hardware and software the IT department is willing to support. When I make initial contact with IT folks, I always ask what technology they use. Then I assure them we’ll work with that. This generally makes them very happy. You have to learn to work with them within their envelope. You're not in a position to try and cram something else down their throat. It is only by standardization that they can support huge corporate networks without the job becoming onerous.
The next thing I do is use their terms and refer to the technology they are currently using. If the system you are proposing isn't something they are familiar with or if it uses 1990's technology like DCOM, then you better ditch it and find something else. In short, if they can't relate to it without a bunch of specialized training (which isn't likely to happen) then your project is probably going to die.
But the reverse is true if you can talk their terms and they can wrap their arms around the technology.
IT Could Be Your Best Friend For Sales
In this case, IT is likely to be your biggest proponent and can help you get your project pushed through. I've personally been involved in these situations many times. In one case I had the buy-in of the plant manager, maintenance manager and production manager but I said "now let's get together with you IT department."
The plant manager said "are you SURE you want to do that?" and I said "Yes."
At the start of the meeting the two IT guys had their arms crossed and looked resentful. First I asked them what relational database they used and they said MSSQL Server indignantly. I said great, that's what we use and they perked up a bit.
Then I went to the white board and laid out the system in terms I knew would be acceptable to them. They asked a lot of questions but I answered each in alignment with technology I knew they already were using. Somewhere in the middle of this I saw them flip from being adversarial to helpful. They started asking things like "When do you need this by?", "How much memory do you need?", "Can we run it on a virtual machine?" and in fact they became allies which sealed the deal.
It is an amazing thing to watch how fast EVERYONE else buys-in when IT does. Like I say. You better have them on your side.