Frequently on completion of a Pulse Measurement clients are comfortable to action my recommendations themselves, sometimes they engage me to assist further. In some cases my findings are highly unpopular with certain parties and it is politically expedient for clients to disengage from me.
These examples have been selected from projects over the last 24 years across diverse industries in order to give an indication of typical situations and outcomes:
1. Transport Holdings – see material on webiste
Development project not delivering over eighteen month period.
In two days diagnosed completely inappropriate technology solution and lack of competence on the part of developers and enabled Chief Executive to see the way forward – see interview on the Pulse Measurement page of the website.
Subsequently assisted client with procurement and implementation.
2. Perfume Marketing and Distribution Company
ERP and warehouse solution stalled for several months.
In less than a week diagnosed inappropriate implementer project staffing, management and approach including a dishonest bid.
Subsequently assisted client to turn the project around and bring to completion in five months delivering substantial strategic value. Client is highly profitable today.
3. Wholesale Chemical Distribution Company – JD Edwards and big brand implementer
Eighteen month JD Edwards implementation by big brand Consulting firm. After five months of live operation warehouse output was still extremely slow and delivery promise was being consistently broken to just-in-time manufacturing clients. The client was starting to lose their biggest customers.
Within five days established that the configuration was fundamentally flawed and that none of the consultants could explain why it was the way it was or what was required to rectify the problem.
Advised the CEO to return to previous system for business strategic reasons and initiated discussion with previous service provider. Client returned to previous system in five weeks and six months later referred to the decision as “the best decision we ever took”.
4. International Gold Mining Company – SAP R3
Non-functional SAP R3 Implementation including Projects, Plant and Materials across two continents.
In a week established that that the configuration was so deficient that re-implementation was the only option and showed executives why this was so.
Client decided to re-implement but out of consideration for shareholder opinion went with big brand implementer contrary to my recommendations. Client is now in Business Rescue having closed one mine because costs ran out of control. Shareholders have lost their investment. I am confident that if they had followed my approach they would be profitable today.
5. Large Construction Company – SAP R3
Full house SAP R3 implementation using a team of free-lance consultants that was going way over budget and deadline with massive demands on time from in-house personnel.
In a few days established that the external Project Manager was incompetent and that entire project approach was inappropriate. Recommended a revised approach.
6. Warehousing and Distribution Company
Procurement including ERP and warehouse solution stalled with Management unable to make a buying decision.
In a few days established that the definition of the requirement was fundamentally flawed, that the adjudication criteria were inappropriate (the defining requirement was the Warehouse solution and not the ERP) and that both of the offers were unsuitable.
Subsequently facilitated a rigorous expedited procurement process where the final decision was between Sage X3 and SAP R/3 with EWM with Red Prairie as an alternative warehouse solution. Client finally opted for Sage X3 and Red Prairie because there was only one EWM implementation in the region and it was immature and rocky at that stage and there was an in-house relationship with the Sage X3 implementers (I advised in favour of SAP with Red Prairie).
7. Major Mining House– major user of SAP R3
Overall health check on the IT Department with particular emphasis on highly ineffective management reporting – a team of Chartered Accountants spending three weeks a month producing the Board Pack in Excel.
In two weeks found major governance issues with regard to IT across the entire Group globally and major weaknesses with regard to the SAP configuration, particularly in the Materials Master and including problems in the SAP Business Data Warehouse implementation. Subsequently assisted on a number of fronts.
8. Fertilizer Manufacturer – BPCS
High levels of Executive frustration with incumbent BPCS ERP and associated custom development. Strong sentiment to scrap the software even though it had only been recently implemented anew. Implementation included Warehouse Management and Manufacturing.
In one week established that the software was a strategically poor fit to the business and that the custom development outside the software was necessary but was seriously complicated as a consequence of an unwise “zero customization in the software” policy that had seriously complicated fitting the solution to the software. Also found that the bad attitude at the management level was in part due to an extremely toxic attitude on the part of the IT Manager and partly due to extremely bad communication between the technical team and management.
In a further two weeks undertook a comprehensive audit of what was required to remediate the system and submitted a second report.
Facilitated a decision in which the CEO took personal charge of the system and issued a formal policy decision that the system would not be changed and that all staff were required to “make it work”. Assisted management in a decision to replace the IT Manager.
Also facilitated a discussion with the software providers where the client locked out of upgrades and secured the right to the source code and a five year support contract on the existing software with the right to renew. This was accomplished on the basis of “The Right to Maintain and Repair”. The system lasted for another eight years until the business replaced the system in their time and to meet their requirements.
9. Steel Product Manufacturing Company – (Baan / Infor)
Very poor operating performance and information gaps and distrust of information at the Executive and Senior Management level with Baan as long established ERP including Warehousing and Manufacturing management.
In a week established that the problems resulted from extremely poor system configuration and overly lean system operation and support and enabled management to see what was required to rectify the problems. Provided further guidance.
10. Construction Company
Three different operating divisions running three different systems, one an in-house developed legacy green screen AS/4-- system, one an off the shelf industry specific ERP and Construction Management system and the third a new in-house developed application. Goal was to select one system for the entire business.
In a week established that the in-house development was badly conceptualized, badly executed and should be terminated and that the off the shelf system was basically suitable for all three divisions. Proposed a rigorous evaluation process to enable the business to accept these recommendations but the project was shelved owing to a downturn in the economy.
11. Clearing Agents
Called in to investigate a system implementation of an industry specific system from Australia which had been stalled for nine months.
In three days established that there was a total strategic misfit between the software company and the client company in terms of service standards and that fundamental mistakes had been made with the implementation. Enabled the Executive Director to see that the new system was totally inappropriate and then facilitated the selection of a new system with a high level of strategic compatibility between the service provider and the client.
At the end of the second day of the Pulse Measurement when I briefed the sponsoring Executive on my findings to that point he exclaimed “the lights have now gone on, I can see exactly why this is not working”.
12. Risk Management Consulting Company
Called to investigate a stalled development project that had repeatedly missed deadline. Client was facing a contractual deadline with severe penalties if they did not have the software operating three months from the date I was called in.
In two days I established that the developer was incompetent to the level of being fraudulent and that there was nothing to show for the nine month investment. Then assisted the client to bring together a professional team to develop a simple piece of software that on an 80:20 basis enabled the client to meet their contractual deadline with the 20% of functionality that would deliver 80% of the required business functionality. I was responsible for the high level strategic design of the solution and the Precision Configuration.
The solution was so successful that the client achieved major operational efficiencies and dramatic management information gains way beyond expectations as discussed in the Case Study.
13. Primary Healthcare Provider Network
Client had been advised that their character based DOS system had reached the end of its life and should be replaced.
Assisted client to evaluate options, undertook a comprehensive evaluation of alternative systems on an international basis and established that the cost of creating the solution the business said it wanted was not justified.
Then conceptualized and specified a solution to strengthen the existing system and reduce risk associated with the software developer. This was carried out and the system lasted for eight years before it was finally unsuccessfully replaced with SAP R3 and subsequently by another system. Developer was killed in a flying accident six months after commencement of the project but by that time the measures that I had prescribed to improve system maintenance robustness had reached such a level that the impact was limited.
14. Mining Contracting Company– Movex M3
Client was unsure whether Movex M3 system was suitable for their needs and was running without an IT Manager.
In less than a week established that Movex was suitable but needed reimplementation and assisted them to develop the job description of a new IT Manager. Subsequently assisted with the interview, selection and induction process and with other aspects of carrying out my recommendations. Advised on re-implementation but they eventually went with a process focused implementation and did NOT achieve the expected benefits. Highly sub-optimal General Ledger implementation.
15. Public Water Supply Utility Company– JD Edwards
Client was dissatisfied with their existing JD Edwards ERP Solution coupled to Maximo Asset and Maintenance Management.
In three days established that at an operational level the systems were performing well but that there was a major communication and understanding disconnect between the new executive team and operational managers on both the business and system sides.
Established that there was no reason to replace any of the systems but that measures to improve communication and to orientate operational managers with regard to executive information requirements were necessary. Proposed a plan of action.
16. Insurance Broking Group
Client was extremely dissatisfied with their existing custom developed software and was facing a breakdown in relationship with the developers as well as regular system failures.
In three days established that the software was well designed and built and that the developers were highly competent. The technology failures were a consequence of the adamant refusal of the responsible business executive to spend money on new hardware even though the business had doubled in size in the time the hardware had been in use.
The breakdown in relationship was a consequence of extremely toxic behavior originating with the same executive that had almost totally alienated a loyal team of people.
The business executive had a Human Resource and Marketing background and no technical knowledge or experience with the result that he was inappropriately qualified to manage the Business Systems function and was operating out of assertive ignorance. Recommended that the governance of the service provider and the IT function be moved to another executive, that a substantial new investment in hardware should be made urgently and that measures should be taken to restore the relationship with the service provider.
17. High End Leisure Products Retailer
Client was being serviced by a small software development company which had custom developed the software in use. Client was concerned with regard to sustainability of the system and service provider and was considering replacing it.
In three days established that the developers were competent and the software was well developed and managed but that despite dramatic growth the client was paying extremely low fees with the result that the developer could not invest in the software or provide manpower redundancy or better documentation. This was placing the client at serious risk.
Enabled the client to see that they should invest in the product and service provider and undertake a systematic program of action to safeguard the investment. Assisted subsequently.
18. Large Scale Wine Producer
Client was experiencing difficulties with an industry specific package from Australia and wanted to know whether to replace it.
In two days established that the software was technically well suited but that there were issues with the financial viability and integrity of the local representative. Subsequently facilitated a number of discussions with the Australian principles but the relationship had broken down to such a level that the client decided to replace the system anyway.
19. Stationary Products Manufacturer
Seemingly unexplainable errors in financials, stock figures and production figures had caused management to suspect that they were being defrauded by their Financial Manager.
In six hours established that the Financial Manager was honest and was doing her best but that unwise staff appointments, particularly in the warehouse, coupled to lack of training and poor system disciplines were resulting in unreliable data that the Financial Manager had taken upon herself to try and remediate instead of escalating to the owners of the business to take more fundamental measures.
20. Domestic Appliance Importer and Distributor
Client was operating an ERP and Warehouse Management and Fulfillment solution that was based on a product that was in use in a small number of organizations but which had been substantially modified by an in-house team in order to meet business requirements. Client was concerned that the system was at end of life and should be replaced.
In three days established that the software was well maintained and that there were effective disciplines but that there was a major problem in terms of IT reporting to Finance that was forcing the Finance view on the rest of the business and cramping development and support to other parts of the business. The IT Manager had particularly weak business communication skills.
Subsequently facilitated the re-positioning of IT under the Chief Operating Officer, repositioning of IT as Business Systems and provided coaching to the new Head of Business Systems in order to better equip him for his new role.
Client was choking with old and unreliable business systems and office automation hardware that was at end of life and also questioning diverse aspects of its technology portfolio and not sure what direction to take.
In two days advised client to replace hardware on a large scale and to go to the market to replace the existing support service provider with a larger service provider with a more strategic view and capability.
Subsequently provided advisory services with regard to implementation of these recommendations.
22. Government Competitions Agency
Client was looking to raise the bar in terms of their Business Systems capability.
In two days identified the way forward. Subsequently drew up a job description for an IT Manager and assisted in his appointment. Also developed a Strategic Requirements Definition and tender documents for procurement of a new system, facilitated the procurement and advised during the implementation. Managed to hold the service provider to a fixed fee and fixed business outcome even though the Service Provider ended up expending about three times the budgeted time at no extra cost to the client.
23. Major Bank – Oracle
Client was busy with implementation of Oracle suite. Completely separate teams for Finance, Human Resources and Procurement. No congruent integrated view of the information and lack of structure and logic within major classification schemes.
24. Fleet Contracting Company
Client was concerned that existing AS400 based green screen software application was obsolete.
In three days established that the system was robust and sustainable and represented a very substantial investment in leading thinking key staff members. Enabled management to take a quality decision to remain with the system and invest in it.
25. Petroleum Distribution Company
Client was a start-up company and needed to purchase an ERP for their wholesale fuel sales and distribution business.
In three days headlined the requirement and provided role clarity of governance of the Business Systems function. Client subsequently purchased SAP R3.
26. Dairy Products Manufacturer and Distributor -- BPCS
Client was dissatisfied with its BPCS ERP system including Warehousing and fulfillment and also with its IT Department.
In three days established that the system was basically well implemented and operated but that the IT Manager was extremely technology focused and was failing to communicate effectively with the business. Recommended re-positioning the IT Function as a Business Systems Function and moving it from under finance to report directly to the Chief Executive.
Subsequently assisted in drafting a job description for Head of Business Systems and in interviewing and inducting a new appointment from the team of external consultants that was advising the business as Head of Business Systems.
27. Armaments Design and Manufacturing Corporation
Appointed to develop an Information Technology strategic plan and assisted the client to see that the Business actually required a strategic plan that was business aligned. Facilitated the development of this plan.
There are other examples.
Pulse Measurements have almost universally resulted in a shift in client understanding at the Executive or Senior Management level and in new action that would not have occurred otherwise.
There are a number of client and other recommendations with regard to my services and approach on my LinkedIn profile at www.uk.linkedin.com/in/drjamesarobertsonerpdoctor/
Should you require further information please do not hesitate to contact me.