TxM 029 Section 3.2 Introducing Dr James Robertson, PrEng - The ERP Doctor Created by James on 7/1/2013 2:31:32 PM
Why should you engage with Dr James Robertson to advise you with regard to your IT and ERP issues?
Deep understanding of why IT and ERP investments do not deliver what was promised and how to rectify this problem
In 1989 James Robertson set out to "bring the disciplines of engineering" (high reliability, high value outcomes) "to the IT and ERP industry". He soon discovered that 70% of IT investments fail outright and only 10% meet or exceed expectations. By 1991 he was speaking regularly at public conferences on these findings and outlining methods to solve the problem.
As a consequence he has been engaged by numerous clients to evaluate failed and sub-optimal IT and ERP installations, turning most around but in a very few cases, advising clients to terminate the investment.
In 2003 he catalogued his findings and wrote the book "The Critical Factors for Information Technology Investment Success". That same year the Financial Mail reported that "19 out of 20 ERP implementations do NOT deliver what was promised". Gartner subsequently reported that "most organizations are NOT making better decisions than five years ago".
Since 2004 James has presented regular courses, advised numerous clients and continued to refine his techniques. This has brought us to a point where today Dr Robertson is a significant thought leader with regard to effective application of ERP in South Africa and possibly worldwide.
An executive level advisor for over thirty years – discusses IT and ERP in language executives understand
James first consulted to senior executives in Europe in 1982, he has been comfortable in the executive suite ever since.
As a consequence he knows what is important to executives and is able to speak their language.
James is an executive advisor first and an IT and ERP specialist second.
Over thirty years' experience in economics and decision support – understands the REAL issues required for your business to prosper
James "cut his teeth" in economics and decision support in 1982 and has a thorough grounding in the essential principles of economics. From this grounding he has developed a thorough grasp of the sort of information that executives need to make high value business decisions.
His first commercial IT project enabled the firm to double their turnover by taking on new international clients. This dramatic growth was as a consequence of capability conceptualized and implemented by James that enabled the firm to do things that much larger firms were unable to do.
A strategist with deep grounding in strategic thinking and methods – quickly grasps the essence of your business and how it thrives and how to use IT and ERP to support strategic functioning
James demonstrates an intuitive grasp of strategy and has been speaking about the importance of the strategic alignment of IT and ERP since 1990. He has pioneered the StratSnap critical issues thinking method and toolset and facilitated many strategic sessions for clients. The method systematically and rigorously leads clients through a step by step process to develop robust critical issues based strategic plans, requirement definitions, etc which focus on the essence of the business and how it thrives.
James regards strategic alignment as an integral and non-negotiable element of any IT or ERP investment and seeks to understand the essential drivers of the client business from his first engagement interview with new clients.
An engineering approach to IT and ERP – Engineers design bridges NOT to fall down
In seeking to "bring the disciplines of engineering to the IT industry" James has clearly identified that the design, deployment and operation of IT and ERP systems is fundamentally an engineering endeavour – a rigorous, precise and systematic method of working fundamentally attuned with creating new systems that fully meet client executive requirements.
At the same time, James has recognized that traditional engineering training fails to provide grounding in the soft issues like facilitation of change, strategy, corporate governance, communication, etc and he has integrated all of these disciplines into the approach that he advocates and the methods that he uses.
During this journey one of the fundamental observations that he has made is that:
"Engineers do NOT design bridges to stand up . . .
. . . Engineers design bridges NOT to fall down"
This understanding supports James' fundamental approach to "design for success by engineering against failure", an approach that underpins all the work that he does.
James maintains that it is not possible to produce a successful IT or ERP outcome without being blunt about the issues that are causing failure and systematically eliminating those factors from the project or operational environment.
Rapid and effective diagnosis of IT and ERP ills – the "Pulse Measurement" – what is wrong and how to fix it in 1 to 10 days – frequently saves clients millions
Since 1989 and the outset of his Professional Consulting Business Systems Engineering practice, James A Robertson and Associates, James has specialized in short sharp diagnostic interventions. These concentrate on the critical issues required to deliver the required business outcome in the shortest possible time.
This critical issues approach led to the creation of his flagship offering, the IT and ERP "Pulse Measurement" – a one to ten day intervention in which he systematically investigates the health of the designated IT or ERP system, department or other operational or project area that is giving cause for concern to executives.
These interventions always commence with interviews with the Chief Executive and other executives.
A key goal in these interviews is to understand the strategic essence of the business and the "burning issues" of concern to the executive team.
Informed by this high level understanding of the issues facing client executives, James then interviews mid-level managers responsible for the operation of the systems in question. This is followed by sessions with the operational staff and service providers culminating in a hands-on look at the systems and sometimes an end to end "walkthrough" of the system in order to understand the exact technical elements that are contributing to the problem.
The deliverable from the Pulse Measurement is a concise report listing approximately seven Critical Findings which are prioritized and weighted in terms of their relative importance in giving rise to the problem in question. These are followed by approximately seven Critical Recommended Actions, also prioritized and weighted, this time in terms of their importance in rectifying the problem. The findings and recommended actions are presented in simple language that is entirely understandable to executives.
James is able to deliver this high value outcome in such a short period of time by operating in much the same way that a Medical Practitioner is able to rapidly diagnose a medical condition and prescribe treatment.
He does this by holding up key observations against a body of thirty years' experience of what works and what doesn't and so a simple phrase like "I cannot get the information I am looking for from my ERP system" (a frequent complaint) instantly enables James to access a body of knowledge based on thousands of hours of practical experience as to what causes such a problem and how it can be fixed. Further investigation is geared to confirming the initial diagnosis and homing in on the specific issues.
Recommendations can be as simple as a change in policy or as drastic as a recommendation to abort a project or system and return to the previous systems. Recommendations frequently address issues of governance, executive custody, staffing, strategic alignment, communication and diverse other issues. The exact mix is unique to every organization but the range of diagnoses and treatments prescribed are frequently variations on themes encountered many times before.
Pulse Measurements frequently lead to significant changes in direction and sometimes save clients millions of Rands.
In all cases, the executives of the client organization have a much clearer view of the way forward and what the REAL ISSUES are once the Pulse Measurement is complete.
Clients regularly engage James to advise at some level with regard to the implementation of his recommendations.
Specializes in the practical high value application of IT and ERP in business – how to unlock the true potential of your ERP investment
James says "I get my adrenalin rush out of solving problems no one else can solve, I like achieving practical outcomes that work and I hate failure".
Based on this ethos, James has invested huge amounts of unremunerated time to understand the real issues in IT and how to achieve successful outcomes and how to achieve the true potential of ERP investments.
The techniques that James has pioneered are so innovative that it has recently become apparent that the standard of implementation of ERP that James regards as essential are such that dramatically better business outcomes are achievable for similar capital investment and lower operating cost than traditional approaches as illustrated in the figure below.
The right hand bar represents the standard of excellence that Executives think they bought (and that James champions) whereas the left hand bar represents the standard that is commonly delivered.
Strategic Engineered Precision Taxonomies (SEPT)
Over forty years ago James had his first encounter with taxonomies in a zoological context with taxonomy projects at school.
Subsequently he researched cataloguing principles and standards for classifying the test specimens for his award winning PhD research and was later exposed to the NATO document classification scheme.
When he first started working with ERP and other IT projects James automatically started applying taxonomies and rapidly achieved some major successes.
At first he thought that what he knew was common place and therefore he did not place much emphasis on it but has now come to realize that the standards that he developed in 1990 and has applied with great success on a number of projects constitute a standard that he has come to refer to as Strategic Engineered Precision Taxonomies which enables users of ERP's and Data Warehouse / Business Intelligence systems to raise the bar dramatically, as indicated by the diagram above.
In the process James has designed software to assist with taxonomies and there is a major development project in process at the time of writing.
If you have not yet spoken to James about Precision Taxonomies please give this serious consideration.
If you are frustrated that you cannot get the answers you need when you need them, feel that your IT staff live on a different planet and do not understand your needs, are not sure whether to replace your ERP or data warehouse, are being told you have bought the wrong ERP or Business Intelligence tools or are in any other way dissatisfied with your current IT or ERP dispensation James Robertson may well be the person to help you.
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