Throwback Thursday: Info sharing, meet sharing info

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This manufacturing company decides it's finally time to start sharing information between different operations, according to a pilot fish on the scene.

"Specifically, we wanted to give inventory data from the warehouse to the manufacturing facility," fish says. "It would be used two ways, and as is typical of a large company, two independent groups were tasked to perform the two functions."

The first group's job: take an existing shop-floor, just-in-time application and add warehouse inventory data to the things the app considers when deciding which of the in-house orders to make next.

The second group's task: take an existing sales-projection program and bring in inventory data to allow orders to be placed for various products.

By coincidence, fish has the project lead from each group at his site one day. The guy from the just-in-time program group, Fred, is there to test some of the new programming from his side.

"Fred told me that they tried to get a small amount of inventory data from the warehouse PC over our WAN the day before, and it all but shut the warehouse down," says fish. "They were changing their method and hoped to have better luck for the next trial.

"Later that day, I ran into Barney, the sales-projection lead, and he told me that they were ready to try their first test later that day."

Have you learned anything from Fred's failed test? fish asks.

What failed test? Barney replies. Turns out he doesn't know about Fred's results, or about Fred's test, or anything about Fred's approach.

When fish tracks down Fred again, he quickly learns that Fred is unaware of Barney's test, too. Fish suggests they talk to each other. They do.

The result: Barney's test is canceled, since it's designed to use exactly the same approach that failed so spectacularly for Fred.

"Only by the coincidence that both happened to run into me that day was the warehouse saved from a second crippling outage," fish says. "The groups worked together after that to get a good working solution.

"But to me, the real kicker came a week after my chance encounter, when I learned that Fred's office and Barney's office, both at corporate headquarters, were literally right next to each other!

"They worked within 30 feet of each other for eight months on similar projects and had never said more than hello to each other.

"And their jobs are to help share information."

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