The Iasa Core Corporation: Tinkleman

Included is the Tinkleman company, a made up company (actually based on a real company – try to guess who). Why include the Tinkleman details in this engagment model. It is to show the kind of application of the engagement model context. This engagement model is used by many multinationals but the target context is relatively simple – from 1-15 full time architects.

Corporate Context

Tinkleman Gaming is a well-established wholesale distributor and manufacturing company serving retail companies that sell electronic entertainment and productivity devices, with a direct sales model for certain lines of business. Founded in 2000 with a very successful gaming device lineup Tinkleman has become so successful due to a great set of products, a dedication to quality in engineering and an obsessive need to provide the best gaming devices for a reasonable price. John Frum, the CEO has described Tinkleman’s market as the daily gamer’s paradise, where awesome performance meets reasonable prices. While other companies have focused on extreme cutting edge capabilities and gimmicks, Tinkleman delivers usability and experience based gaming peripherals, from keyboards to media streaming.

Tinkleman rose initially based off their console gaming controllers, the Tinkleman Turbo, which were significantly more advanced than those coming with standard game consoles. By mid-2000 they had expanded their product lines to the gaming mouse and keyboard built and designed with gamers in mind. The products became significant sellers around the world. The key factor in there success in each case was that Tinkleman was able to develop a lower cost device with higher end features. Due to a combination of design excellence, gamer community involvement and a commitment to a self-owned and optimized manufacturing chain, the Tinkleman devices became synonymous with easy to use and dependable peripherals. As their success grew, Tinkleman continued to build their wholesale business, partnering with gaming manufacturers and retailers.

They have successful manufacturing plants located in China, Indonesia, and Mexico, with regional sales offices throughout Europe, North America, and they are considering expanding into Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Headquarters is based in Dallas, Texas. Tinkleman feels that changes in the gaming market, especially in PC gaming are going to require significant business model changes and thus they have some decisions they must make about how they position themselves.

Unfortunately, because of their explosive growth and commitment to cost management, corporate technology and management has not kept up with the times. Most systems are older and integration with manufacturing, distribution and design have suffered recently, causing glitches and hiccups in corporate operations. When the latest product came out, Tinkleman was unable to fulfill all of its pre-orders causing a stir in both customer and media bases.

The Leadership Team

John Frum, the CEO is a savvy business man who is as passionate about quality as he is about sales. While the rest of the company is a gamer’s paradise John focuses on the business and makes sure that the team has all the support it needs while providing a deep understanding of market trends. John was responsible for driving Tinkleman away from the pure high end gaming market and making their products available to the average household while retaining enough advanced features and technology to ensure they were at the upper middle end of the market. Now that the PC market is changing John is very eager to find their next strong market position. This shows in his every day and his approach to business technology. He is actively pushing the company into wearables, Android and IPhone gaming controllers, and home enetertainment and management consoles that go beyond the features of standard gaming consoles into home, work and life management services. He has recently begun pushing to have a Tinkleman mobile application and service which brings PC gaming to the mobile environment. He is particular interested in getting this tied in with the newest device from the design lab – the Tinkleman TimePeace, a wearable concept watch which is gathering support from early beta testers especially for it’s abilty to be housed in multiple stylish wrist cases. John wants to expand this device into retail channels all over the world and tied seamlessly into their order management and delivery capacity. He is potentially pursuing an acquisition strategy to make this a reality.

For Jaylene Ruth, the CFO, the picture is a little different. “While we are doing better than the competition, but our operational efficiency has become horrible. We absolutely, positively must reduce operational costs by twenty percent in the coming fiscal year and I believe the biggest improvement must come from the IT department. Between the line of business owners and centralized IT we are spending more in IT than anywhere else and I am not seeing a return on the investment.”

As you might guess, Harry Pearson, the CIO is nearing his wit’s end. “With the expansion and acquisitions we’ve made, and the regulatory constraints of manufacturing across the world I am surprised we can keep this company running from an IT perspective. It seems that I spend all of my time putting out fires and trying to keep things working together. Each B2B solution we have is customized, we use different authentication methods for different organizations, and now I hear we want to add a new content and cloud service plus a new wearables support infrastructure and expand into more markets. Has anybody even considered the infrastructure, communications linkage, power and facilities costs, regulatory constraints, and business rules that we’ll need to implement? How are we going to integrate the different platforms into our structure and how are we going to train and balance our staff now?”

Elise Morrison, owner of the gaming line of business, has the ear of the CEO and is in a constant state of agitation. “We built our reputation on low cost, excellence in delivery and operations and dependability”, she states. “And now we cannot even meet the pre-order expectations of our most ardent followers. I need to know exactly where our production sits at all times. I also need an automated way to allow buyers from our customers to change priority of shipping and size of order and I can increase sales AND satisfaction by 25%. Our relationships with our largest customers is at risk and nothing can come before this upgrade.” What Elise has been telling her people in gaming, is even more difficult for the technology team. She doesn’t understand why her world renowned design team is not being effectively covered in social media and online communities. She doesn’t have solid CRM coverage, nor does she understand how Tinkleman can be at the forefront of gaming technology and yet be so antiquated in there operations, sales, marketing, and manufacturing. She is pleased with the new features and capabilities of the inventory system but is discussing with external vendors regularly the use of cloud products for order management, warehousing, CRM and social media tools. She leads the primary line of business and therefore feels justified in making decisions that suit her needs.

Lewis Curtis, owner of emerging product lines, has different needs. He has a reputation as an innovator and wants to move the organization into a content model which would augment the investment in devices and peripherals. He believes it is time Tinkleman had a content business related to gaming titles and device integration. “I originally tried to push us into the music and content space which was a mistake, but now we must be able to compete with the full product stacks of other companies to continue our growth. This is completely compatible with John’s device play. But we need to add gaming content to our stack to provide additional incentives, a pay for service revenue stream and to drive customer loyalty to our devices since the gaming market is becoming more commoditized.”

Abigale Smith, a sales leader, is seriously concerned about growth and the ability to compete with ACME and other competitors in the sales technology arena. They have difficult times identifying leads and they consistently miss opportunities based on their slow and difficult sales technology. Tinkleman has inhouse sales tools which do not scale much less provide on-time and mobile packages for their sales and marketing staff. Although Tinklemans product customers love the technology they do not feel able to interact nor is Tinkleman able to convert their satisfaction and ideas into new products. Abigale believes that with new technology they would be able to achieve up to 13% market growth. She has already brought in two CRM vendors and is poised to make a decision about their products with our without support from IT

Corporate Facts and Figures

Tinkleman had gross revenues of $200 million last year. The IT group spent 10 million or 5% of sales. The CFO has discovered that average IT expenditures in industry are 3% of sales which is why she is adamant about decreasing the cost of IT significantly. The company has sold over 10 million devices to date.  

The company has 4 lines of business, Gaming, Business Devices, Online retail (both for consumer and corporate sales), and electronic components which come from their manufacturing centers. They began as a game component manufacturer with their chief product being a game controller used in the PlayStation and X-box. A recent acquisition of another gaming device company has made possible entry into the tablet and wearables industries which could triple their sales in a year.

The company has 450 employees.

Sales and Marketing: 100

Finance: 30

Manufacturing and Warehouse: 100

Product Design: 30

Management: 25

Operations and Legal: 65

The IT staff with an IT staff of 100:

  • 15 developers
  • 15 data center staff
  • 3 project managers
  • 3 quality assurance
  • 7 business analysts
  • 7 managers
  • 20 IT staff have come from the recent acquisition
  • 30 of the staff are operations for business units

Competitive Environment

Tinkleman was in a strong cash position and were able to acquire their largest competitor which has allowed them to be in a position to grow. There are a number of similar sized companies in the manufacturing space that are competing for the same sales. Recently ACME Game Devices has built similar manufacturing capacity to Tinkleman and has a strong European market in direct sales and is bidding aggressively to be a key Wal-Mart supplier. ACMEs strength in direct sales has resulted in their lowering the quality of their controllers thus resulting in higher returns. In addition there supply chain technology is not nearly as sophisticated as Tinkleman’s but they have a stronger retail technology. The rate of return for ACME products is up to 3-4% and Tinkleman is around 1.5% which they dropped significantly the previous year.

Current Engagement Model

When Tinkleman decided to go ahead with architecture the chief architect documented their current architecture engagement model.

Principles

Progress – The architecture team is just beginning. There have been some basic architecture initiatives in the past but they have always been run by senior development. The team hopes to show immense progress by making architecture a well understood initiative by the staff. We expect at least 25% of the employees of the business to be able to describe the value that architecture brings to the company.

Value – Technology has always been ad hoc at Tinkleman. The architecture team will improve the product and technology investment process by evaluating every major technology purchase or commitment.

Skills – The current architect team has been taken from IT staff in different roles. We will complete a skills inventory and match that to roles. We will improve our architecture skills by 25% by taking training and reviewing existing books and online material.

Coverage – Currently there are no projects using an architecture approach. We expect to cover at least 20% of projects with active engagement. In addition we will identify all areas in the company where technology strategy is impacted. We will focus on the project prioritization process to ensure that the right projects are selected.

Concepts

Artifacts – We will develop the following templates for architects to use: a) the project prioritization templates to effectively participate in the project planning process, b) the project architecture templates necessary to document the architecture strategy for each project we work in, c) governance and architecture approval templates for effectively governing the investment decided by projects which do not have an active architect assigned.

Processes – We will use a basic process which includes involvement in the project prioritization process and the delivery life cycle. It will include steps for architects to be involved in all decisions that impact the technology strategy on up to 20% of our projects.

People – Our people are our key asset. We will actively train them in our most lacking set of skills in business technology strategy. In addition we will document all of the interactions in the company that currently reference architecture (development for example regularly uses the term). We will insert architects into the top 50% of these situations as well as provide active education to the employees in these situations.

Management – All architects will be a part of the same team directly reporting to the chief architect. Based on our skills acquisition we will develop a series of peer reviews and mentoring to aid each architect in their skills growth.

Partner Profiles

Microsoft – Microsoft has always been a strong Tinkleman patner. Working together the Tinkleman controller is one of the most popular 3rd party controllers

Dell – Dell another Texas based business has not traditionally been a strong partner only offering one Tinkleman product on their purchase options and 2ndary device marketplace. However with the wearables market and home cloud integration opportunities heating up, they are evaluating whether not they might put more into a real working partnership, potentially leading to a drastic increase in sales.