PraxIS January 2003                    ISSN 1649-2374

Contents:  Practical eBusiness, Website Usability, SoftTest, Euro rumbles, Xmas Quiz answers

This issue online at


Systems Modelling Ltd.: Managing reality in Information Systems - strategies for success


   Practical EBusiness guide
   Web site usability counterexample

Software Testing

   SoftTest Ireland Quarterly meeting 27 Jan 2003 18:00


   Before corporate memory fades completely...
   Analysts question Ireland's EMU entry
   The Marta Andreasen saga rumbles on
   A long bet ... your starter for 2003

Risk Management

   Change management

On the lighter side 

   The @ sign around the world
   Christmas Quiz answers

10 Web links in this newsletter
About this newsletter and Archives
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Please email me with your comments as requested in the Euro survey below.

Thanks for your interest,

Patrick O'Beirne


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Practical EBusiness guide

Here's something for free - practical hard-nosed advice on ebusiness.  I used to be able to charge for this ;-) . 

"Enterprise Ireland have commissioned a CD to help Irish managers identify the approach that best meets their specific business needs. Enterprise Ireland ran a grant scheme, called the eBusiness Acceleration Fund. The participating companies agreed to share their experiences - the good and the bad - for the benefit of others. In the end, over 80 companies proceeded with significant eBusiness investment. The majority of these case studies took the form of an indepth analysis, going into the 'nitty gritty' with questions such as how they planned it, what went right and what went wrong, how much it cost etc. A key element of the research was to document the advice that these business people would give to others embarking on eBusiness projects. It may surprise you that much of the advice that transpired was not related to technical issues but to the management of people and processes. Although some of the advice seems basic, many very well-managed companies still failed to observe it."

Some lessons that stood out as I was reading it were:

Connaught Electronics Ltd (CEL) found that selection of a third party vendor to supply their ERP system was the most difficult task. Crucially, they investigated three reference sites. These revealed that both ERP systems needed 'add-ons' to perform basic invoicing and goods receiving; they needed IT departments of four or five staff to support them and their add-ons compared to CEL's one; and both provided only as much functionality as CEL's existing MRP product!

A company ended up in a dispute with its web developer and the problem was that there was no contract. To help avoid this, a checklist is provided on "Choosing an eBusiness vendor".

A company had to dig deep to find the real answers to customer reluctance to use a supplied system. The persistence of the team and the good customer relationships were rewarded by insights into appropriate training and support.


Web site usability counterexample

Imagine you see a shop you like and want to check it out and buy something if you like it.  As you try to enter, you are stopped by an entertainer who, after a minute collecting his materials, goes into a dazzling exhibition. He finishes and with a bow and a smile opens the door for you to enter.  Nice, but... the next time you visit you have to endure the same show again. And again ... if you go back.

That was a parable of the tendency of many sites to require you to sit through a Flash movie before you are allowed to view their contents.  The more clued in ones have a "skip intro" button prominently displayed.

Now imagine you want to enter a shop but the door is closed and blank. There is no handle, no bar to push.

That is what happens when sites have ONLY a Flash entry page, but you are browsing with ActiveX controls disabled for reasons of security. After all, how do you know the particular ActiveX control that wants to execute is harmless?

And paradoxically, one site that initially suffered from that syndrome is a site devoted to usability! I told them about it and they added a new entry page. It's an EU funded project:

Hint: if you really want to see that site and don't want to enable Flash, visit which will give you links to a great many usability resources.

By the way, if you'd like to help your tech people avoid these embarrassing mistakes, point them to these techniques to detect a Flash-enabled browser:



Software Testing

SoftTest Ireland Quarterly meeting

Monday 27 January 2003  18:00-20:00 Holiday Inn, Pearse Street, Dublin

Case studies :
AIB Test Process Improvement
Spokesoft: Automatable Use-Case Driven System Tests of Java Web Applications, using HttpUnit
Networking opportunity





Before corporate memory fades completely...

As new year arrives and we think of "Lest old acquaintance be forgot", I'd like to try to collect some hitherto-untold reminiscences of the final euro changeover a year ago, before the corporate memory all fades completely. This will help those in SE, UK, and DK thinking about their projects. May I ask all those who were involved in euro conversion projects to email me their final lessons from their projects?  You can be anonymous if you wish, or claim credit if you wish. Examples of comments are things you did that you now consider unnecessary, or things you did not do that you now wish you had done, or done differently.

And just to show that the debate has not gone away:


Analysts question Ireland's EMU entry 

Sunday Business Post, Dublin, Ireland, 5 January, 2003

"As the euro heads into its second year as a `real' currency, many analysts are questioning the wisdom of signing up to European Monetary Union (EMU). The one-size-fits-all policy looks increasingly illogical. Some economists believe that signing up to the euro was a huge economic mistake for Ireland. Friends First economist Jim Power describes it as a victory of politics over economics, and says that even to question Ireland's entry was politically taboo. Bloxham Stockbrokers' Alan McQuaid argues that Ireland should have kept its alignment to the British pound. 'Ironically, at the time we joined the euro, we were moving politically closer to Britain.' "


The Marta Andreasen saga rumbles on

In September 2002 I reported on the Andreasen story in the EU Commission. Here is an update: 

Actions of EU vindicates whistleblower By David Rae [17-12-2002]

"The whistle-blowing former EU chief accountant was suspended from her post earlier this year after she claimed that accounting systems were open to fraud. But today Michaele Schreyer, the EU budget commissioner, will say the current accounting system cannot cope with new financial regulations, according to a report in the Financial Times. Andreasen was told at the time, by former budget director-general Jean-Paul Mingasson, that her preferred technology choice, SAP, would be too expensive and that, he did not want it. But Schreyer' overhaul of the current Sincom 2 system is extremely likely to involve SAP technology. 'If this is correct, then the arguments I was making earlier in the year have been vindicated,' said Andreasen. "

"The European Union's suspended chief accountant, removed from her post by former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, wants to stand as a Conservative MEP against his wife Glenys, reports have indicated.  Her only hope at the moment seems to be to ensure her name be top of a reserve list, should one of the five Conservative candidates in Wales drop out. She is still suspended on full pay and has to reside in Brussels between Monday and Friday - with no duties as she's banned from stepping into any Commission building - so as not to break her contract while the slow disciplinary procedures continue. "


A long bet ... your starter for 2003 

Bet 77 "By 2050, at least two pan-regional currencies, modelled on the Euro, will be used in the world."


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Risk Management

Change management

Here's an idea attributed to Robert Heinlein saying in an article advising would-be science fiction writers. "Imagine some plausible change or trend or innovation that represents progress. Now figure out who will be harmed by the innovation. There's the conflict that drives your plot."


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Simply send your comments to FEEDBACK (at) SYSMOD (dot) COM

Thank you! Patrick O'Beirne, Editor

_______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________


On the lighter side

The @ sign around the world - it's a little monkey. And a pig's tail... 


Answers to the Christmas Quiz contributed by Dave Butters:

The following are abbreviations for Christmas carols, songs and sayings. Many are Christmas carols/songs but many are not.

1. IDOAWC I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas
2. CICTGIGF Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat
3. CCBOAY Christmas comes but once a year
4. AIAMNCFAB Away in a manger, no crib for a bed
5. ITBMWFWMM In the bleak mind winter, frosty wind made moan
6. TQCMTTC The Queen's Christmas message to the Commonwealth
7. NRATI No room at the inn
8. DAD,PAV,CAC,DAB Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blitzen
9. DDAD Don't Drink and Drive
10. CROAOFJFNAYN Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose
11. KUTM Kissing under the mistletoe
12. POEGTM Peace on Earth, goodwill towards men
13. WSWTFBN While Shepherds watched their flocks by night
14. RATCT Rockin' around the Christmas tree
15. RTRNR Rudolf the red nosed reindeer
16. HYAMLC Have yourself a merry little Christmas
17. GRYMGLNYD God rest ye merry gentlemen let nothing you dismay
18. CPAMP Christmas pudding and mince pies
19. ABWISCALIAM A baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger
20. ISMKSC I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
21. CMAB Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar  (the three wise kings)
22. DDMOH Ding Dong merrily on high
23. RTWATT Roast turkey with all the trimmings
24. AIWFCIMTFT All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth
25. THATI The holly and the ivy
26. OIRDC Once In Royal David's City
27. BH Bah Humbug! 
28. WSGSUTC When Santa got stuck up the chimney
29. WWYAMC We wish you a merry Christmas
30. WTKOOA We three kings of Orient are
31. OCAYF Oh come all ye faithful
32. DTHWBOH Deck the halls with boughs of holly
33. MCTAOR Merry Christmas to all our readers
34. GKWLOOTFOS Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen
35. OLTOB O Little Town of Bethlehem
36. GFAM Gold, frankincense, and myrhh
37. JBJBJATW Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way

Christmas presents from Amazon




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"Praxis" means model or example, from the Greek verb "to do". The name is chosen to reflect our focus on practical solutions to IS problems, avoiding hype. If you like acronyms, think of it as "Patrick's reports and analysis across Information Systems".


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