"Dr Robertson, I have spent Rxx million, I KNOW the transactions are being processed but I.T. tell me they cannot give me the answers I need unless I spend another Ryy million and take another zz years!"
"Dr Robertson, I may be wasting your time, I do NOT understand ERP!"
"I have one production unit and they cannot tell me what it costs to operate it, in a years time I will have eighty of those units, what do I do?"
"I do not think that FRED is suitable for our business, we should have bought something else" (FRED, which stands for "frightfully ridiculous electronic device" is a brand independent name of any ERP system that is perceived not to be working effectively – substitute the name of YOUR ERP for FRED...
These are a few of the most common statements that I encounter from Chief Executives and other C level executives when I conduct my short duration, high impact "Pulse Measurement" investigations.
A Pulse Measurement ranges typically from a day to a week in duration depending on the size of corporation, complexity of the problem and level of detail required for the diagnosis. It delivers by close of business on the last day of the investigation a written report listing no more than nine critical findings on a weighted and prioritized basis and no more than nine critical recommended actions also weighted and prioritized. The report is designed to enable management to act immediately.
In conducting the investigation I start with one hour one on one interviews with the Chief Executive and other C level Exec's, then managers responsible for the operation of the system and finally operators of the system and technologists.
Over the years I have built up a catalogue of the factors that cause problems and the factors required for success, classified them, written a book on the them and regularly run courses around them. The factors causing sub-optimal ERP performance (relative importance on average on causing failures and sub-optimal performance) are:
1. Mythology – "computers are magic", "we can do anything we can think of", etc – 30%
2. Lack of executive custody and poor governance – 19%
3. Lack of strategic definition and alignment – the essence of the business – 16%
4. Lack of precision taxonomies and configuration – 14%
5. Lack of change facilitation, poor training, etc – 12%
6. Lack of precision, lack of discipline – 6%
7. Technology issues – 3%
In a matter of a few hours, asking some key diagnostic questions, listening carefully, engaging with the people interviewed, gaining strategic insight into the business and the problem I am able to hold up a list of key words and key phrases against the above catalogue and accurately diagnose the cause or causes (usually more than one) of the problem and with a few more hours of engagement at the operational level I can accurately diagnose the measures required to remediate the problem.
Sometimes the diagnosis is simple, the simplest ever was identifying a clerk who was "correcting" what she perceived to be errors in allocation by an executive with the result that the numbers in the system bore no relation to the numbers he was authorizing and he blamed the system – saving? – conservatively in today's terms R15 million – the client had asked me to help them figure out how to quickly replace the system with more "reliable software" J
Sometimes the diagnosis is terminal as in "take it out and slit its throat as quickly as possible" as in the case of a big brand ERP that was so badly implemented that after five months of struggling the client was unable to meet its service promise and was haemorrhaging customers at an ever increasing rate – in that case no one could explain why the system was doing really obstructive things and no one knew how to fix it because the consultants who had done the configuration had left. In that case the client was still able to roll back to their old system – saving? They were able to stem the loss of customers and stay in business in reasonably good shape.
The interesting thing about this approach is that generally, when the results of the Pulse Measurement are presented the findings are so obvious that executives discover that they know a lot more about ERP's than they thought they did.
When an executive tells me they do not understand IT or ERP it generally means that the ERP is implemented in such a clumsy manner that it in no meaningful way models the business and therefore the executive assumes that because they cannot understand how this works they are stupid and they are too embarrassed to say something in case someone realizes they are stupid.
Once I have shown them how clumsy and inaccurately their system has been implemented they suddenly discover they DO understand a lot more than they thought they did and the problem is that the implementers did not understand their business and have therefore configured the software in highly inappropriate ways.
A simple rule of thumb – if the way your ERP is being operated does not make sense do NOT agree to further investment until you find someone who CAN cause it to make sense or can tell you what is wrong and how to fix it – do NOT allow your fear of being thought ignorant prevent you from taking a stand to be allowed to know what is going on with your investment.
And if some technologist is arrogant enough or ignorant enough to suggest you do not understand then apply the same tough corrective measures you would apply to any other insubordinate staff member or arrogant consultant – it is YOUR business and you have a right to know what is going on.
The way your ERP is configured should accurately model the real world – you should be able to look at the configuration and say "yes, that IS MY business".
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Business Systems NOT delivering?
Call the Business Systems Specialist
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
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
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.
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:
James has a very detailed profile on LinkedIn should you require further information about him.
You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/DrJamesARobertsonERPDoctor
James has an open networking profile -- click on "Connect" and use email address James@LinkedIn-at-JARA.com.
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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
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
List of Articles
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
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
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
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 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?
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
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