Robust Business Systems Procurement: Part 2 -- Bill of Services, Laboratory, Go-live Certificate, etc

The importance of a formal bill of services, a business simulation laboratory, the issue of formal certificates including a formal go-live certificate and related matters

Robust Business Systems Procurement: Part 2 -- Bill of Services, Laboratory, Go-live Certificate, etc

Links to previous articles at the end of this article

In my previous article in this thread I outlined some key factors in developing a robust procurement model and contract for business information systems.  That article addressed Strategic Facilitation and Governance, the need for a robust and legally sound "Request for Proposal" document and the need to base the "Business Requirement Specification" on the strategic essence of the business. 

The recent report "BBC was 'complacent' over failed £100m IT project " highlights the importance of a robust procurement approach resulting in an enforceable contract.  Write-offs such as this are entirely preventable.

This article continues the discussion and looks at the importance of a detailed "Bill of Services", the importance of  "Precision Configuration", the role of the "Business Simulation Laboratory", the need for a formal contractually based "Go-live" Certificate, the use of legally sound Certificates generally and the importance of a "Client Compact" as the reciprocal contractual terms for a client to underpin a fixed price:

4. Detailed Bill of Services

In the construction industry the "Bill of Quantities" is central to quoting for the work and to executing the work.  In the case of business systems related procurement the Bill of Quantities is replaced with a "Bill of Services", a detailed schedule of all the work that it is expected that the contractor will undertake in order to execute the project.

The blank schedule should be compiled by the Strategic Advisor in partnership with the Contract Manager and the Business Team Leader.  This is the client's best estimate of the work to be undertaken at a detailed level and may run to a hundred A3 pages or more in an Excel spreadsheet.

There are techniques that can be used to produce such a concept plan relatively quickly -- the role of a highly experienced solution architect, in the role of Strategic Advisor, is critical.

Bidders are free to ignore items in the schedule and to add as many of their own items as they choose, but are prevented from adding items back after the contract has been awarded.  The refinement by the contractor is done with the understanding that the resulting schedule will form the basis of the final project plan.  This schedule of services results in budget line items on a deliverable basis, structured in terms of "allowables" -- agreed budget items for which payment will be made.

All activities are required to be costed against a full range of personnel categories.

An "allowable" is a budget provision for a particular activity or item and is fixed unless it can be clearly shown that the nature of the client's business changed after award of the contract.  Interim payments are based on allowable items that have been completed and accepted -- tied in to clearly measurable deliverables.

Milestones for partial and complete release of retention are also tied to this plan.

The Bill of Services clearly defines the work to be performed and during the project highlights work to be performed that was not envisaged by either party at the time the contract was signed.

A key element of this procurement approach is the third stage of detailed discovery and contracting.

During this process the preferred bidder can "go anywhere they want in the business and talk to anyone they want to talk to in order to fully discover the business and the requirement" --  this takes place against a fixed fee budget in stage three of the procurement process.

Key Implementer personnel must be bound to the offer and the Bill of Services and only Implementer personnel who will actively be involved in the project should be introduced to the client.

5. Precision Configuration and Validation Data

The two enduring elements of a Business Information Systems project are the configuration (including validation data) and the knowledge and experience of the people who use the system.  Of these, the most enduring is the configuration.

It is commonplace for the configuration of systems to be left to mid-level operational personnel from both the client and the Implementer.  In other words, to people who do not have a strategic long term view of where the business is going and who lack information cataloguing and organization skills.

The configuration is, in fact, the most important element of any business information systems project.  This should be driven from the executive suite, facilitated by the Strategic Facilitator in close consultation with executive management, in conjunction with highly experienced information management specialists from the Implementer.

I have coined the term "Precision Configuration" to describe this component of a project.   It entails highly organized information, strategically determined taking account of the essence of the business to high standards of precision that accurately measure the real world.

My series of articles on "Strategically Enriching your Business Systems" discusses this in more detail, there is also information relating to this on my website under the "Configure " tab

6. Business Simulation Laboratory

A further element of the Request for Proposal is that it prescribes testing of the entire configuration in a Business Simulation Laboratory.  The Laboratory is a test environment where the configuration and customization is tested to destruction by the most experienced members of the client's staff.  This goes WAY beyond the concept of "User Acceptance Testing".

The senior staff who drive the Laboratory must set out with a full selection of representative data to introduce the most obscure situations into the operation of the software.  This should be done with the express intention of causing the system and configuration to fail.

Once this has been carried out exhaustively and all weaknesses identified and resolved, such that they are no longer able to cause failure, the resulting small data sample is used to test reports and business intelligence models, to ensure that they are working correctly and reliably.  Workflow automation is prescribed from the executive suite, developed and tested, also to destruction.  Once all these elements are in place and working reliably, operational standards and policies are finalized and training material is developed, preferably including high quality computer based training material.

Only then are all staff trained up in the laboratory, until they reach a level of comfort that they can run the system effectively and efficiently.

Once this point has been reached a final review takes place by the executive management of both the client and the Implementer and, subject to a clean bill of health, the final "Go-live" Certificate is issued.  There are contractual penalties associated with premature issue of a "Go-Live Certificate".

7. Formal "Go-Live" Certification

Building on the Business Simulation Laboratory the "Go-Live Certificate" is the final output of the configuration, customization and testing stage of the project.  As mentioned above this is issued at the executive level once the Business Team and the Implementer Team have signed the Certificate.

The certificate contains a clear warranty that those signing have fully satisfied themselves as to the robustness of the configuration.  The tough wording and the presence of a lawyer on the project team are both vital elements of ensuring that all parties to the project think very carefully before they put their signature on the Certificate.

This is the final safeguard against a failed or sub-optimal implementation and is the final step before commencing to deploy and commission the system.

Note that in the case of a badly run project, attempts to issue this certificate will give rise to substantial and valid delays until the quality of the work reaches a level where commissioning can take place with certainty that there will be NO damage to the business.  Penalties for premature acceptance should be built into the contract.  This approach would have ensured that BMW and Bridgestone did NOT experience the dramatic losses that were encountered on their projects.

8. Prescribed Certificates

The procurement pack should also include a set of prescribed certificates to be used for all aspects of the project.  This pack of certificates should be designed such that NO element of significance is accepted and NO interim payments are made without the issue of a formal certificate.  These certificates should be signed by the Business and Implementer team leaders and team members as applicable.  Exact wording of these certificates is to be agreed during stage 3 of the procurement with legal input and their issue is to be built into the project plan and is the joint responsibility of the Client Contract Manager and the Implementer Project Leader.

9. Client Compact

Inherent in the approach outlined above is a very tough and robust contract that will hold the successful bidder to very onerous performance terms.

Since the system is to be implemented in the client organization, based on information supplied by client personnel, the performance of the client must, of necessity, also be subject to tough conditions.  This is handled in the RFP by a "Client Compact" in which the client undertakes to ensure that the right personnel are "in the room" for all workshops and that the required review and input takes place on time, in accordance with the project plan.

Here too there are penalties such that the Implementer can claim standing time for workshops that are cancelled at the last minute because key client personnel are not available.  Disciplinary action may also be taken with regard to client personnel who fail to apply themselves during workshops or in reviewing specifications, etc.  Further, once a certificate has been issued any changes to specifications take the form of formal "Variation Orders" for which the client will pay.  Of necessity, these terms require due performance by the Implementer.

To Follow

10. Executive Engagement

11. Facilitation of Change

12. Bid Compliance Checklist

13. Bid Adjudication Schedule

14. Prescribed Bid Table of Contents

15. Comprehensive Pack of Reference Documents

16. Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence

17. Three Stage Procurement Process

a. Stage 1: Narrowing the Field

b. Stage 2: Select Preferred Bidder

c. Stage 3: Detailed Discovery, Finalization of Project Plan and Contracting

d. Configuration, Customization, Testing and Commissioning

Conclusion

I have used this approach successfully to conduct fixed price fixed business outcome projects, and hope that you will find it of value.

If you are embarking on any form of business systems procurement, large or small, this approach can be adapted appropriately.  It also has application to procurement of other soft business improvement services.  Some of these principles can also be applied when entering into negotiations to renew contracts with existing suppliers.

I offer advisory services with regard to the application of these principles and would be delighted to discuss how I might be of assistance.

I also offer sets of electronic template documents for the above, one set suitable for small to medium size projects and another suited to larger projects, these are available for purchase, email me for details .

Please forward this to anyone you think may find it of interest.

Yours faithfully,

 

Dr James Robertson PrEng

James A Robertson and Associates Limited
Assisting clients to thrive through effective and efficient application of Business Information Systems

Seeking to serve the Almighty Creator in all things

Mobile: +44 (0) 776-862-2875
Landline: +44 (0) 207-059-0007

Previous articles:

Strategic Essence -- The Missing Link in Business Information Systems

A discussion of how strategic essence should inform all business improvement projects and particularly business information system projects.  This thread is intended to discuss the analysis of strategy, the planning of strategy and feeding strategy through into business system specifications and the management of projects.  Articles to date include:

Summary
1: Strategy Defined
2: Differentiation
3: The Essence IS Different
Determining Strategic Essence

The Real Issues in Business Information Systems

A discussion as to why business information system (and other business improvement projects) fail to deliver on expectations or fail outright, together with discussion of the critical factors that must be taken into account in order to achieve successful outcomes.  This thread is intended to progressively discuss more hands-on specifics of achieving high value outcomes and builds on the Strategic Essence series.  Articles to date include:

1: Introduction
2: The Real Issues -- Mythology and Lack of Executive Custody

Strategically Enriching your Business Information Systems

Discussion of practical specific measures that can be taken in order to greatly improve the information yield of business information systems at both the operational and executive strategic level.  A number of simple steps that can be taken immediately and more complex measures that can be taken over time.  This thread is intended to discuss increasing business system and data warehouse value yield using techniques that lead to significantly improved business intelligence capability, including support for the ability to obtain "answers to questions we had not previously thought to ask ".  This builds on the content in the Strategic Essence and Real Issues threads.  Articles to date include:

1: Introduction
2: Principles of Data Engineering

Robust Business Information Systems Procurement

In order to fully apply the methods and principles discussed in the threads above with regard to new systems it is vital that a robust and effective approach to procurement is applied.  This requires a tough procurement approach directed at achieving a tough business outcomes orientated project that ensures a high value outcome.  This thread is intended to discuss the components of such a procurement approach, including the individual documents and process that make up the approach.  Thereafter the components will be discussed in more detail.  Articles to date include:

Introduction Part 1


Random Selection of Articles by Dr James Robertson

TxM 101 Taxonomy Manual Part 2: Why Use JAR&A, Required Knowledge and Experience, Cubic Business Model and Chart of Accounts and Taxonomy Software

A discussion of why James A Robertson and Associates are the leaders with regard to this field, a discussion of the knowledge and experience necessary to develop high quality precision configuration, factors causing business information system failure, discussion of the differences between the work of different practitioners, some important principles, giving executives REAL information, the power of an executive with a blank sheet of paper, common mistakes, risks, the Cubic Business Model, Group Consolidation Charts of Accounts and why it is necessary to use software to build and maintain code schemes
SNw 055 Business Process – irrelevant, distracting and dangerous

Business process is the focus of most business information system implementations and is highly ineffective, this article goes so far as to suggest that business process is irrelevant, distracting and dangerous and that there are other much more effective techniques that should be applied
Std 020 Procurement: 11 Schedule of Reference Documents

A key component of the approach is to assemble a pack of every single piece of paper, spreadsheet and screen shots and other information of every manual and computer based component of the business that the new system is to either provide or interact with
The documents handed out for general tender should be redacted and unsuccessful bidders can be required to return the file/s
A full set (NO redaction) must be issued to the successful bidder during the detailed discovery process -- redaction means to erase or otherwise blot out sensitive information
The covering schedule must indicate the level of importance of each item in the pack and whether it is a required deliverable
Cnf 037 The Reasons Why More Than 70% of Corporations are Dissatisfied with their I.T. Investment : How Senior Management can Respond Proactively to Overcome This Syndrome in Their Organizations

The factors causing sub-optimal business information system project outcomes and executive frustration and what is required to overcome these problems
Cnf 073 Critical Factors for I.T. Success in a Declining Economy

Ways of managing Information Technology to obtain longer investment life and greater benefit and return on investment from existing systems and infrastructure

Dr James A Robertson PrEng

Business Systems NOT delivering?

Call the Business Systems Specialist

Dr. James Robinson

Dr James A Robertson -- has been involved in the effective application of Business Information Systems, including but NOT limited to ERP, since 1987 and in the profitable and effective use of computers in Business since 1981.

Drawing on a diversity of experience, including formal military training in Quick Attack techniques at the Regimental Commander level, Dr Robertson has developed highly effective methods of investigating any sub-optimal Business Information Systems situation -- be it an established system or a stalled project or any other source of Executive frustration -- quickly and concisely diagnosing the root cause of the problem and prescribing concise practical actions that Business Executives can effectively act on see the Pulse Measurement page and also the Sample Reports page for redacted real reports.

He has also developed highly effective methods of strategically enriching systems to unlock the full potential of existing investments, see the Precision Configuration page and couples this to architecting small pieces of clever software that harness the full potential of your investment, see the Software page.

If you are having problems with your systems, your project or your IT Department, call The Business Systems Specialist
James@James-A-Robertson-and-Associates.com

Business System Failure is RIFE -- we offer insight into why this happens AND WHAT is required to prevent it.

Failure is at epidemic levels with massive damage done to client companies -- if you are NOT aware of the extent of the problem please visit the About Failure page for a catalog of major failures running to billions of Pounds and Dollars.

All evidence indicates that the established players do NOT know how to deliver stable, reliable high value solutions that WORK.

There HAS to be a better way!

This website provides information relating to that way with a large collection of white papers, presentations, standards documents, etc that you can use to start bringing the situation under control

We also offer high level advisory services with regard to the application of the principles advocated on this website

We offer an ENGINEERING APPROACH to addressing these issues

Click here to read more about the Engineering Approach

By Engineering I mean the formal, structured, highly disciplined, highly systematic, highly practical approach that consistently delivers results in ALL areas of human endeavor where formally trained and certified engineers are the ONLY practitioners permitted to operate -- think large buildings, factories, motor vehicles, aircraft -- highly complex systems that work at a level that we take it for granted that they WILL work and where failure is all but unthinkable and, when it happens, attracts immediate public attention and rigorous investigation directed at ensuring that such failures are prevented in the future -- in fact, everything that the management consulting industry that implements complex software systems is NOT

This approach is discussed further on the Engineering Approach page.

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Book -- The Critical Factors for Information Technology Investment Success

In 2003 I undertook an in-depth analysis of all the information and experience that I had gathered with regard to the factors giving rise to Business Information System failure including ERP and general IT and classified this information into a number of categories including "The Factors Causing Failure" and "The Critical Factors for Success" based on this I developed a two day Course "The Critical Factors for Information Technology Investment Success" which is still offered today.

Based on this I wrote the book of the same name, which is available in electronic form here for download:


Random Selection of Articles by Dr James Robertson

Web 03 Strategy -- What is it and HOW do you develop actionable plans?

A detailed discussion of strategy, determining strategy and presentation of a method that enables organizations to develop a comprehensive measurable and actionable strategic plan with resource estimates and key performance indicators in a structured and systematic method that also provides measures of alignment or lack of alignment and provides a basis to facilitate alignment
Cnf 053 Engineering Maintenance Management Methodology With Radical Rethink About Clinical Data Code Design

The current clinical data codes, ICD 10 and CPT 4 are exceptionally weak as information classification, management and analysis tools and massively inhibit the creation of clever clinical and medical software, there is a huge opportunity to redesign these codes and use the resulting intelligent codes to develop very sophisticated health management systems drawing on engineering maintenance management and other techniques in order to provide solutions for areas and countries with a limited number of healthcare practitioners
Prd 041 Strategic Snapshot Toolset

The StratSnap toolset has been developed over 24 years and owes its conceptual origin to Professor Malcolm MacDonald's Exmar software

It is a very effective Critical Issues based Strategic Analysis tool that has a diversity of uses as discussed on the Strategy page

The spreadsheets are now over ten years old and need a significant refresh and may require tweaking with the latest versions of Excel

For that reason I am giving them away free on a NO warranty basis for you to try out and use as you see fit

I offer comprehensive facilitation using this tool with insight and technique refined over the 24 year period

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Articles by James A Robertson and Associates

There is a large body of white papers, articles and other content produced by Dr James Robertson available on this website

Please click here to visit the detailed listing of articles

Articles Issued by James A Robertson and Associates -- Article Categories

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Table of Contents

Home

About Dr James A Robertson PrEng -- The Business Systems Doctor -- and Other Topics

Catalogue of Major Business Information System Failures

About the Engineering Approach

James Robertson's Value Add

Attributes of a HIGH VALUE solution

Recognizing Business System Failure

The Critical Human Foundation

Old Software IS Viable

From South Africa

Competencies of Dr James A Robertson PrEng

About Professor Malcolm McDonald

Table of Contents

About my relationship with the Almighty Creator, Yah the Eternally Self-Existing

Comments relating to the Business Systems Industry and other topics

Testimonials and other positive material regarding James Robertson

Reference Articles

List of Articles

Article Catalogue

Achieving High Value Business Information System outcomes

Executive Custody -- What is it and HOW do you get it?

The REAL Issues in Integrated Business Information System Success

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2 -- Mythology and Lack of Executive Custody

Part 3 – Strategic Alignment and Precision Configuration

Why your ERP is NOT delivering and HOW to FIX it

IT Project Management

Pulse Measurement

CEO Anthony Lee Comments on his experience of the Pulse Measurement

No Charge Guarantee on the Pulse Measurement Service

Examples of Pulse Measurement Outcomes

Critical questions regarding the Pulse Measurement™

The Pulse Measurement Workflow

The Critical Factors for Business System (ERP+) Investment Success in the Pulse Measurement

Indicative Pulse Measurement Durations

What is a JAR&A Pulse Measurement?

Survival of the fittest – why it makes sense to measure the pulse of your business

Examples of Pulse Measurement Outcomes over 24 years

Sample Pulse Measurement Reports

Strategy

Strategic Essence: The Missing Link in Business Information Systems

Strategic Essence: Overview

Strategic Essence: Part 1 -- Strategy Defined

Strategic Essence: Part 2 -- Differentiation

Strategic Essence: Part 3 -- The Essence IS Different

Strategic Essence: Part 4 -- The Essence should be the Point of Departure

Strategic Essence: Part 5 -- Discovering Strategic Essence

Strategy -- the Essence of the Business: What is it and how do you develop actionable strategic plans?

Simple Steps to Increase the Strategic Value of your ERP Investment

Free Strategic Snapshot Toolset and Manual

A strategy focused planning system beyond traditional budgeting

Tough IT and ERP Procurement and Contracting that Works

Robust Business Systems Procurement

Part 1 -- Introduction

Part 2 -- Bill of Services, Laboratory, Go-live Certificate, etc

Part 3 -- Executive Engagement, Bid Compliance, Adjudication and other matters

Procurement Documents

Guidance and Advisory Services

The Art of Project Leadership

Why Regular Communication with the CEO is Vital

The Business Simulation Laboratory

Precision Configuration and Strategic Business Information Architecture

Precision Configuration based on Strategic Engineered Precision Taxonomies

The JAR&A Cubic Business Model

Highly Structured Strategic Chart of Accounts -- a Vital Element of your Corporate Information Arsenal

The Product Catalogue -- an Essential Element of any Precision Configuration

Attributes -- answers to the questions you have NOT yet thought to ask

Case Studies of Notably Successful Projects with high value Precision Configuration

092 Doing things differently and better -- ASCO Case Study 2-- BPM Summit 2013

088 Strategic ERP Invesment -- ASCO Case Study -- Service Management Conference and Exhibition Africa

026 Information Architecture and Design of FIS for Rennies Group -- Financial Information Systems Conf

018 CRM Risk Control: Designing and Implementing an Integrated Risk Mgmt Sys -- Integrated Risk Mgmt Conf

011 V3 Consulting Eng: Benefits of MIS to Professional Practice -- SAICE 15th Ann Conf on Computers in Civil Eng

Strategically Enriching your Business Information Systems

Part 1 -- Introduction

Part 2 -- Principles of Data Engineering

Part 3 -- Steps in applying these recommendations

Simple Steps to increase the strategic information value yield from your Business Systems Investment

The Full JAR&A Taxonomy Manual

Part 1: Introduction, Problem Statement, Definitions and Examples

Part 2: Why Use JAR&A, Required Knowledge and Experience, Cubic Business Model and Chart of Accounts and Taxonomy Software

Part 3: How to do it, Case Studies and White Papers and other References

Example General Ledger Manual

Business Process -- Irrelevant, Distracting and Dangerous

The RIGHT Approach

Custom Strategic Software Design and Oversight of Construction

Standards for Custom Software Specification

What IS Software?

IT Effectiveness

Organizing Outlook

Critical Factors for I.T. Success

A Moral and Ethical Dilemma -- Systems that Fail

Case Studies examining Business Information System failures

The BBC Digital Media Initiative Debacle

The Bridgestone -- IBM Conflict

Speaking and Training

Showcase of Conference Presentations

Most Viewed Presentations

Briefings and Seminars

Why your ERP/BIS is NOT delivering and HOW to FIX it

ERP and IT Procurement that Delivers Results

The Critical Factors for IT and ERP Investment Success

Other Seminars

Conferences and Public Presentations

Conferences 80 to 99 -- 2009 to Present

Conferences 60 to 79 -- 2005 to 2009

Conferences 40 to 59 -- 1996 to 2005

Conferences 20 to 39 -- 1994 to 1996

Conferences 01 to 19 -- 1989 to 1994

On-Line Seminars (Webinars)

Webinar on Preparing and Presenting Webinars

Contacting James A Robertson and Associates Limited