On seperating operational, tactical and strategic computing.

ID-10076178I was recently involved in a discussion on OpenERP, when I suggested that one might export data from the main ERP system for seperate processing using SQL and Excel for reporting.  This was regarded by some as a criticism of the ERP system’s reporting capability, however I think that this is quite natural for the following reasons:

* Even if it was necessary for a company to use special SQL and Spreadsheets, I do not think that it would render OpenERP useless (“What is the use of a ERP system if…?”)

* There is the classic 3 layer model of IT in companies: Operational, Tactical and Strategic. OpenERP is predominantly an Operational & Tactical system, with a strong mission to provide a reliable support at the Operational layer. Strategic systems tend to be very different, they have to be much more fluid, but they do not need to be operationally reliable.

* For strategic and high level tactical work, one tends to need a very fluid system, which does not need to run to operational standards. Excel is very good at this.

* Strategic modeling tends to have very short development cycles of the model, which can be iterated several times per hour!

* Strategic modelling output should only be feed back into the operational model with a great deal of caution, as it tends to be pretty “hacky”

This was why we separated our strategic work from our live operational systems, we take an overnight copy of all our DB’s and then do certain tactical reports (which take about 4 hours on other machines), and export stuff for strategic work in Excel.

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