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Zempel says he believes this approach will prevent runaway IT projects funded solely to justify previous investments in the technology. "It helps separate emotion from the decision process," he says.
The portfolio methodology convinced Zempel and his team they could put off the installation of an integration server to provide data flows among many of Life Time's applications--human resources, Siebel Systems' CRM (customer relationship management) package, which is going live now, and the Member Management System (MMS), to name a few.
Life Time developers had started this task by writing custom applications using Sun Microsystems' JMS (Java Messaging Service). These applications track events, such as an employee hire, and automatically update training, payroll and other systems that rely on up-to-date employee information. "It's a poor man's integration server," quips systems architect Gary Lien. "The number of points of integration is minimal, and the solution in place seems solid, so why would we move to something different at this point?"
These JMS connectors replaced a daisy chain of messaging scripts "where each integration point was its own brainwork," Lien says. "Once anything went wrong, it was a nightmare to get things fixed."
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