hershey makes chocolate and i am chocolate

Back at it again… For those who don’t know, I’m from Pennsylvania, with my hometown being about 20 minutes from Hershey,PA, famous as Chocolatetown, USA. As such, I have a sort of hometown pride for Hershey’s chocolate, and I was dismayed to find out some news which upsets me on many levels.

You see, children all over the country may be denied their usual ration of confectionary delights from the company this year because of (get this) a troubled implementation of SAP.

What does this mean? Trouble not with the manufacturing, but with the distribution of the manufactured product. No Hershey’s Kisses at trick-or-treat because of a software problem?! You must be joking… talk about a usability error.

What seems bizarre to me is that whatever system they already had in place (which presumably was functioning well enough for the previous 100 years that the company has existed) must have at least been worth keeping as a backup.

The real cause of all of this? Technical types (myself included) have too much faith in technology. A sort of selective memory makes us remember the successes without remembering just how much troubleshooting, bug-squashing, and rebooting got us there.

What sort of common sense deficiency made them implement a radically new business architecture months before both their busiest season and Y2K with no backup system? It seems inconceivable to me.

They might have done well to visit the website for InfoWorld: When they rolled out their new design for their site in July, load times increased, users squawked about not understanding the layout, and pages often didn’t completely render. So they re-posted their old site, completely intact, with all of the new content in the structure of the old site. They had maintained their existing servers in their orignal states, just in case.

A gutsy move, especially for a magazine that is focused on the tech industry. But the right thing to do, and an example that Hershey would have done well to learn from.

As an aside, please note the ways in which I am like/not like chocolate:

Ways that I am like chocolate: I am sweet, brown, delicious, and a guilty pleasure of women all over the world.

Ways that I am not like chocolate: I am not sticky, expensive, fattening, or from South America.