On reading our recent article on the BLAM implementation at A+E Networks UK, available here, I was reminded that the project was extremely well received by senior managers and the creative teams alike.
Successful project delivery comes equally from approach as the technology – you could say its “six of one, half a dozen of the other”. This project was led by our colleague William Piper and followed the Blue Lucy principals of service delivery, principals honed through experience if not Forged in Fire.
In this short Blog Spot I have tried to distil the essence of the approach into six of one headlines which I consider contributed to the successful, business focused outcome. Much of this is by no means revolutionary, but I hope worthy of sharing:
- Start with a simple vision and focus on the operation: In delivering a media technology project into service, it’s not possible (or desirable) to define the detailed outcomes of the project at the outset. Instead, set a vision that defines no more than three key objectives and follow the business and operational requirements to deliver to those. The operational business should set the objectives and the engineers will deliver the functional capability.
- A single accountable vendor simplifies solution provider management: Blue Lucy provides the BLAM platform and takes full ownership of the delivery of the platform into operational service as a single accountable entity. This greatly simplifies the engagement and reduces management overhead from a customer perspective, even in a multi-vendor solution, and allows Blue Lucy to manage risk directly in the implementation approach.
- Integration delivers business value: : In this case, the integration of MediaGenix WHAT’sON is the standout in terms of delivering value to the creative team at A+E: BLAM reads TX schedule data to create new make tasks, automatically creates the folders and aggregates the source material, an operational “game-changer” according to the A+E head of technical operations. In addition, though, there are integrations with more than six discrete platforms in this deployment, each of which eliminate tedious manual operations freeing up operator time, reducing cost and delivering consistency. Business value comes from integration, integration, integration.
- Put the software engineering team on the front line: In all our customer engagements the software engineering team are involved from the outset, even in projects that do not require a new connector or other development. Bringing those that write the software, both core and connectors, together with the end users delivers robust and operationally complete software. By removing layers of managerial abstraction, operational nuance may be quickly understood and the engineering team can develop a deep contextual understanding. This also delivers rapid development as there are fewer revision cycles.
- Take an iterative, incremental approach: Again, an increasingly common method but worth re-iterating. Start small, build the core end-to-end operational workflows and elaborate from there based on direct engagement with user groups in short, 1-2 week cycles. Don’t worry about scrapping previous workflows if you devise a more efficient operating model, this is part of the process.
- If possible, deliver business benefits from the outset: As a first, almost incidental, step in the project BLAM workflows were configured to make safety copies in AWS S3 of archive material stored on-prem at the Hammersmith facility. This followed a trickle-up approach using existing connectivity rather than a bulk transport such as Snowball. BLAM workflows create a browse copy of the material, upload the files to S3 and sets the storage class for the master object based on forecast usage, with infrequently required material tiered directly to Glacier. These workflows ran in the background during the iterative delivery of the Promo Production workflows and 660,000+ assets were processed amounting to 1,000,000+ files, being ~ 740TB transferred to AWS. Overall BLAM manages 17 discrete storage locations on-prem’ and in the cloud.
The full article is available here.
Artwork Credit: Forged in Fire Copyright AETN.