The main purpose was to assist Cook Medical in getting their Japan IT & office operations started, implementing their basic systems and putting basic IT practices put in place. (http://www.cookmedical.com/)

Some details on the Cook Japan Interim IT Management & Systems Setup project:

I was asked to assist in handling a vendor meeting, and met two of Cook's global IT operations managers, Michael Kohlman and Ted Hickman. After discussing the situation, I participated in the meeting to suss out the project status in Japanese. It became apparent that interim IT management and project management were going to be critical, if Cook Japan were going to meet its deadlines and operational goals.

The vendor at the meeting had been essentially given a kind of carte blanche for about a year, only because the people mananaging it at the time were non-IT, and simply trying to get things done by relying on the vendor. Suffice to say it was a perfect example of why skilled PM and vendor management are needed. The project was teetering at the cusp of heading away from every standard Cook had in place, and toward a proprietary, single-maker solution.

I stepped in to assess the presented solution vis-a-vis the Cook standards given to me, and with that mandate, reviewed and accepted or rejected it point by point. We made sure to remain fair to this vendor, since they had been operating under the assumption of getting the PO, until IT stepped in. We made sure they had "dibs" on the parts, so long as they could be reasonably competitive and stick to Cook standards. In the end, as a vendor attached to a big systems maker, they were truly "dyed in the wool", and any solutions outside their own, were truly going to be expensive.

One example: we had a bill of materials from the network group in the US, for Cisco "Call Manager" telecomms, which had been priced out in the US at about USD 90K. We knew we were going to be looking at more, maybe considerably more (given that we're in Japan), but what we got back from our incumbent was a whopping JPY 33 MM or about USD 300K quote. It was a situation that they were trying to sell their own network equipment, and the Cisco would have been implemented as a sub-sub contract of a Cisco Gold Partner over here. As it stood, we went directly with a Cisco Gold partner and got the equipment and solution for about 20% more than our price for the same BOM out of the US.

Image of jury-rigged rack cooling system (fan).A funny anecdote about the project is that somehow it was decided, in a meeting I wasn't present at, that I would like to share my server room Air Conditioning unit with the regulatory "lab" room next door. I walked in one day, to find a sizable hole neatly cut into the wall between the server room and the lab. We had to scramble to correct that one, by shoring up the hole, and of course, there were delays introduced while the agreed A/C unit was sussed out and deployed. In fact, the delays caused us to have to jury-rig fan units above the server rack, as shown.

Besides the telecomms, we deployed a door security system, structured cabling with 5 HP racks, a Cisco switch stack with fibre connections between the main office floor and the warehouse in the ground floor, HP KVM switches and all the needed servers. This was all tied together with independent electrical circuits feeding APC UPSs in each rack, in the end, cooled by a proper independent ceiling A/C unit.

After the initial setup, it has been all about ongoing IT management and user support, starting with the usual processes and procedures we (my firm eSolia) established where there were essentially none before we started, working within the policy mandates that came to us from the US, and continuing on through the present where we support a Cook Japan IT staffer hired after the site was sufficiently stable.

Sincere thanks to Mike and Ted for giving us the chance, to Glenn Ostlund, Barry Thomas on the local and regional management side for keeping it going, and later to Kazu Yagome and Jithendra Nair on the management and IT side respectively, for letting us continue. It's by your grace we can thrive as a business.

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Testimonials for Cook Japan Interim IT Management & Systems Setup:

My first direct experience with Rick was in early 2008 when he "auditioned" himself and his company by participating in a vendor negotiation for IT related installations in our new Tokyo office. Within that hour of discussion Rick's talent and skills became clearly evident and by the end of the evening he had won our business. In the years that have followed I've never regretted that decision as Rick's abilities and care for his clients permeated throughout his entire business and team. Michael Kohlman, Infrastructure Manager