Preparing enterprise data takes 6 months

Published on by Joannes Vermorel.

How long does it take to get started with Lokad? Answering this question is tough because often our answer is about 3 to 6 months. Hell, 6 months! How can your software be so clunky that it can take up to 6 months to get started? Well, our typical set-up phases can be broken down as follows:

  • 90 to 180 days: preparing the data
  • 3 to 30 days: configuring Lokad

This shows that Lokad’s setup is actually lightweight. Yes, there is room for improvement, but if we consider that Lokad offers programmatic capabilities which completely fit the business drivers, the process can already be considered as lean.

The biggest challenge, which makes pretty much everything else seem insignificant, is data preparation. Preparing data is the art of producing numbers that make sense out of raw data obtained from the company systems.

It is tempting to underestimate the amount of effort that needs to be invested upfront in order to deliver numbers that make sense. In fact, data preparation is too often reduced to a simple data cleaning operation as if the challenge could simply be addressed by filtering the few parts in the data that happen to be incorrect (such as the negative stock levels).

Yet, the true challenge lies in uncovering and documenting the precise semantics of the data. When we begin a project, we consider ourselves lucky if we have about one line of documentation per field for every database table that is made available to us. By the end of the project, we have about one page worth of documentation per field.

If data preparation takes 6 months, why not just postpone using Lokad for 6 months? So that we have all the data just before Lokad starts working on it.

Establishing a data-driven company culture takes years. If your company does not already have a team of data scientists working for it, not much will happen for the next 6 months as far as your supply chain project is concerned. Hence, after 6 months of waiting, your company will still be stuck with another 6 months of data preparation. One of the core know-hows we have developed at Lokad consists precisely in uncovering all the subtle “gotchas” that may backfire against supply chain initiatives.

Lokad can be a key driver for change in your company’s supply chain. Don’t hesitate to contact us, we are happy to discuss these matters with you in more detail.

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