The Project's Payoff

By Adam Swift  |  Posted 2009-03-06 Print this article Print

An inside look at Fastenal Corp.'s big project.

Instead of a situation where we take one team’s system and another team’s system, try to stitch them together somehow and wind up with something that is less than ideal, we can now create a business process and make it available via SOA, so anyone call it and get the data they specifically want. This is far more efficient and cost-effective then having to do some custom development every time a new project comes along.

In weeks instead of months, we can quickly implement a new project now that we have web services already in place. It is as simple as going into ActiveVOS and just changing how the services are invoked. The development is already done.

We are a lot more agile as a team because with an SOA, we can build the components ahead of time and we can plug them or unplug them as we wish, instead of deploying some new version of some program that lives somewhere and gets executed by some process.

It turns out that often there are not that many different web services to write. All we need to do for a new business process is just put the orchestration project together in ActiveVOS and plug it in to the web services we have already developed. This greatly increases our up time for complicated projects. This was our first SOA project and ROI, in terms of customer satisfaction, was realized within two months.

Transparency is critical so we want to move towards customer self-service. Our goal is to have an interface on www.fastenal.com that calls into one of our web services and which notifies the customer of current status of the order, the order history and any changes that have been made to the order.

Customers will have their own interface to check status and a phone number for customer service should they need to make any changes. In the future we hope to be able to provide customers with the ability to change the order themselves.

One of our challenges looking ahead, as is the case with any new technology, is that we have to continue to convince people internally that SOA is the way to go. We are at a point with our implementation of an SOA where we are seeing actual ROI in terms of improved customer satisfaction, reuse, uptime and operational efficiency.

We continue to do quite a few proofs-of-concept to demonstrate ROI. These are starting to convert more internal teams and projects to the idea of an SOA. Fastenal is well on our way to becoming an SOA shop, especially as we continue to grow.

Adam Swift is an integration developer for Fastenal.


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