I’ve been involved with a huge network rollout project these days. It is honestly the biggest endeavor I have been on. We are re-architecting a global network for a company that has 67 offices in over 21 different countries. There are over 500 telecom closets that we will touch and replace over 70% of the existing hardware. Its a daunting task to say the least.
In the design phase of this project we have went through several iterations of the design trying to accommodate for every different office type, differing requirements, and differing connectivity. Everyone from the project managers to the executive team want a cookie cutter plan to implement a standardized design for all offices. The changes are be completed within dead lines, no downtime, and under budget.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
To implement a project of this scale takes an extreme amount of organization as well as a lesson or two from McDonalds. Yup Mickey D’s. You see McDonald’s is the largest fast food restaurant chain in the world. McDonald’s has over 31,000 locations serving over 47 million customers daily. I think just about everyone has visited a McDonald’s at some point in your life.
McDonald’s is also the king of automation. If it can be automated, replicated, or have a process wrapped around it, McDonald’s has done it. But if you ever visit any two McDonald’s restaurants you have to have noticed that not one restaurant is EXACTLY alike. Every McDonald’s is very similar with very similar menu items, restaurant equipment, and processes. But none of them are identical. They are close but not exact.
This same understanding of macro planning and organization is essential, especially when planning large network redesigns or hardware refreshes. Project managers and executive teams have to be shown that there are no cookie cutter rollouts. Standards can only be taken so far, until that same standardization ends up costing the company way too much money.
Standardization is good and is needed in as many areas as where appropriate. But be realistic when planning your design and understand that there will be a scenario, a country, or an office where the standard model will not fit. Plan for this to happen and be ready. Be willing to create slight variations to fit the situation and your project will go much smoother.
Have you had to deal with situations like this where you were asked to create a cookie cutter solution to a enormous network project? If so leave a comment and tell us about. How did you handle it? We would love to know!