This year marks the 35th anniversary of my first job in enterprise software. What was meant to be a sabbatical from engineering schools became my career. When I look back over this period, there have been amazing advances in hardware and networks. Price performance on memory, microprocessors, storage, and communications has gone from extremely costly to almost for free.
The most notable control on my first computer acquaintance was a big red button with the text “Emergency Pull” with a post-it note saying “Don’t touch”. The computer, IBM System/3 with 16 K memory and 12 MB storage, was 2 meter high and 6 meter long. Originally it was designed for processing punch cards, but in 1976 diskettes and “green screens” were taking over. Yet, a significant hurdle was still to program around all capacity limitations and that were to be the case for a long time to come.
Movex, the company where I started my career, was an IBM hang-around, helping companies making the most out of their hardware investment. Our specialty was to digitalize paper-based facilities for inventory records (Cardex) and printing work order documents (Ormig). Once there it was natural to advance into planning and execution. So we soon became a provider of Material Requirements Planning (MRP) systems.
My first assignment as a project leader for implementing MRP was with Anderstorp Werkstads AB (stainless steel smooth band manufacturer with 300 employees) in October 1977. It was exciting to have such a role at the age of 19. But it was also very demanding, such as when the customer’s project manager wrote me a letter with two questions: 1) what’s the purpose of MRP? And 2) how does it work?
We did our best to learn from Joseph Orlicky’s famous MRP book and it helped although our lack of experience, also from application development, made it a tough job. In the end, the project became a success and helped us getting closer to fulfill the MRP capability as well as preparing us for MRP II and then ERP compliance.
In April next year it has past 22 years since Lee Wylie at Gartner introduced the ERP term and concept. Lee’s specification well describes the architecture of some of today’s most popular ERP systems. 22 years ago, client/server ERP was state of the art. Today’s ideal is something very different. In other words, today is a typical (high tech) situation: what used to be the best way forward… becomes the opposite. And yes; we have a word for it: Progress.
Progress is the primary focus of this blog. First and foremost, I intend for Peter’s Blog to be a place where we share ideas and lessons learned to accelerate supply chain performance. I hope you will enjoy and participate!