This morning was an early morning. Wewere out of the hotel at 8am to travel to the Bang2 office. This is all the way on the other side of Bangalore, about 20 miles or so. It took us an hour and a half to get there.
We spent the morning learning about the Life Sciences R&D Center of Excellence (CoE). I learned a lot about how our R&D division works, and how IT can really drive performance in that area of the business. The idea of a CoE makes a lot of sense for Accenture – they can train new people very quickly, share knowledge across a similar skillset, and bring new ideas to the table. I just dont like the idea that our competitors can benefit from that if they are also an Accenture client. We also had an opportunity to stop in and peek into the MHRA bay briefly. Smit used to work in this bay, and Laurent knows one of the MHRA executives from his earlier days at BMS during the DuPont Pharma merger.
From what I have gathered about Accenture, they have organized about 40 Centers of Excellence across their organization. A center of excellence is a way to consolidate knowledge across one of three dimensions: technological skill, organizational skill, or a type of work. So, for example, a SharePoint CoE would be on the technological dimension, the R&D CoE would be on the organizational dimension, and the Application Outsourcing CoE would be on the Type of Work dimension.
After our tour of the R&D CoE, we headed off to Bang 3 for an SOA discussion. There was a deep dive into case studies, their use of tools, and a discussion of lifecycle management of SOA. Laurent walked away impressed with the level of understanding of SOA as a strategy within Accenture, and may leverage their skills in the near future.
Lunch was a continuation of SOA for Laurent, but I got the opportunity to talk to Pavan about exploring Agile methodologies in the delivery of our Internet Marketing projects. This is a very intriguing idea. My concern is the Legal/Medical/Regulatory process, the time constraints of the BRM team, and the engagement of the agencies. But this is something I think we should try to see how it would work. I will probably set up some additional meetings to discuss.
The Technology Labs presentation was actually very exciting. They showed us a tool called RAT – Requirements Analysis Tool. It is a MS Word / Excel add-on that evaluates your requirements for clarity and completeness, and cascades through the traceability matrix and test cases. I love this tool. We should use it on our requirements documents, and on the template too. We also saw a tool called Pivot. This tool takes advantage of existing data (such as CruiseControl logs, ClearCase data, etc) to monitor project health. This is a whole new way to monitor projects, and may offer more project metrics beyond defect analysis. The last tool we saw was ACQT – Accenture Code Quality Tool. This is Java only right now, but is like an improved version of FXCop. You can define any rule to test against your code, and it integrates with CruiseControl. I would love to see this in .Net.
The Avanade meeting was a bit disappointing. We asked them to talk about the integration of Silverlight and SharePoint. They spent most of the meeting discussing what SharePoint was and trying to sell us on the product, even though we already have it. They spent the rest of the meeting on the architecture of the product, so we never got to see a demo. Two things struck me as a little strange. The Avanade team kept referring to SOA as a technology. It is not. It is a strategy for implementing enterprise level services (not just project level services). They also talked about the decision to use Silverlight was driven by the need for drag and drop, and the avoidance of postback. They could have used jQuery and AJAX and .Net MVC for any of this. I I asked, but never really got a good answer why Silverlight was better than any of those for this project. Maybe next time.
The Open Source discussion was very interesting. We got to see full project stacks using only industrial strength open source projects. We got to hear about all the different products on the market that are Open Source. I am not sure how much of this we are going to be able to use, though. But Open Source is a very interesting topic. It sets a lot of ideas in motion.
I had a couple of meetings with the teams back home, and we wrapped up the day. We ate at a South Indian Restaurant at another Taj hotel in Bangalore. The food was great, the company was great, andI had a great time. The Accenture team are being overly gracious hosts. I am not sure I could do as well.