(THE CRITICAL FACTORS IN I.T. INVESTMENT SUCCESS)
Sixty years after World War II we live in an age like no other.
The differentiators of past decades are necessisties for survival.
How will corporations differentiate themselves and grow in the next ten years?
(Notwithstanding the 70% outright failure rate of I.T. investments)
In the 1960's production capacity was a core requirement -- could companines procuce sufficient quantities of their goods or services to satisfy demand?
In the 1970's sales capability became critical -- could companies sell what they could produce?
In the 1980's financial control was critical -- could companies control costs? (just in time, activity based costing, etcetera)
In the 1990's and beyond all of these are essential entry level requirements for continued existence -- we are faced with:
-- a global economy like no other in history,
-- a global population greater than could have been envisaged a few decades ago,
-- mergers and acquisitions resulting in larger and larger corporations,
-- computer technology that far exceeds the expectations of a few decades ago
how do corporations survive, let alone thrive, under these conditions?
The World Competitiveness Report 1993
In 1993 the world competitiveness report and other authorities suggested three areas where competitive advantage lay for nations and, by extension, businesses:
-- Market focussed strategy
-- Utilization of the human resource
-- Effective management decision making
All of these are challenging "soft issue" areas that remain challenges to most organizations today.
In all of these areas creative use of computer technology in support of effective human operation represent major opportunities for most organizations. Clear definition of critical issues, critical requirements, etc is an essential component of any solution.
Challenges in 2006
In addition to the factors mentioned above, other challenges facing business today include:
-- Business integration -- the ability of all the human beings in an organization to inter-operate and function cohesively as one unit.
-- Effective use of information technology -- 70% of I.T. investments fail totally, another 20% perform sub-optimally and "19 out of 20 E.R.P. implementations fail to deliver what was promised" (Financial Mail).
-- Effective decision support -- "most organizations are not making better decisions than they did five years ago" (Gartner)
Some Thoughts -- The Next Ten Years
Effective strategic analysis, strategic solution design and solution implementation -- strategic capability -- the ability to define a competitively successful future position, understand the current position and current trend, map out a path to the future and to get there is a core competence required for organizations to thrive and prosper in the decade ahead.
In my research into the reasons why I.T. investments fail and the critical factors for I.T. investment success I have come to understand that the factors giving rise to I.T. under performance and failure are largely the same as those giving rise to the 90% failure rate of strategic planning initiatives -- they relate to people, the ability of people to respond to change, to communicate, to sustain change, to embrace and implement new concepts, a smorgasbord of issues that all represent challenges to people that is outside the scope of this present article (more information is available in the book "The Critical Factors for I.T. Investment Success", refer www.jar-a.com
A key requirement is the ability of teams of leaders to pool their collective knowledge and experience (wisdom) to arrive at the best possible solutions. The method outlined below is highly effective for this.
A Useful Technique -- Strategic SnapShots -- Critical Issues Business Analysis
A specific component of the challenges mentioned above is the ability of organizations to synthesize and integrate the full intellectual and experiential capability and capacity of leaders at every level and harness this intellect to produce coherent, comprehensive integrated plans to achieve both strategic and operational objectives. Our full strategic analysis, design and implementation method caters for all that is required in detail but is outside the scope of this article.
A critical technique on which our approach is based is critical issues business analysis.
I would like to outline the approach in a form that you can take and apply immediately.
1. Formulate the correct question -- this could be "Critical Concerns for the Next Decade", "Critical Requirements for ... System", or any other question that may require the input of a team of people in order to formulate the best solution -- remember "if you ask the wrong question you will get the wrong answer" -- formulating the RIGHT QUESTION is vital.
2. Brainstorm all issues that come to mind relating to the question and write them on a pad or flip chart or type into a computer -- preferably do this so that all participants can see -- no discussion, no critique of other inputs, no wrong answers, just brainstorm until the team has listed everything they can think of -- could be ten issues but can be several hundred -- depends on the team, the question and the facilitator.
3. Private analysis of the critical factors -- I recommend no more than seven factors, each person applies their mind individually to develop seven concise statements that embrace the critical essence of all the brainstorm points -- no discussion, each person does this on their own.
4. Group synthesis of the critical factors -- pick one person to read out their seven factors and then each delegate adds to the list additional factors that they have developed -- again, no discussion, list all the factors developed by the delegates -- THEN combine, edit, modify and synthesize all the factors listed by all the delegates into omnibus statements that capture the collective thinking of the group, again I recommend seven factors.
5. Summarize -- on completion of the previous step there are generally a set of fairly lengthy portions of text pasted together -- collectively extract a word or phrase that summarizes the headline concept of each of the seven points and place that at the head of each point.
6. Weight relative importance -- each delegate allocates 100% of importance over the seven points and individual results are then captured on flip chart or computer and discussed. Invariably this step reveals major differences in priorities amongst even the most established working teams -- note issues, agree a set of weights to apply to the planning process and move on.
7. Score performance -- each delegate scores each factor from 0 to 10 in terms of "how well are we doing" relative to historic, current, forecast and objective over an agreed planning period, typically one to five years. Scoring is again done privately and then captured and displayed to the team. This step gives a weighted numeric measure of how well the delegates think the organization will be doing on these points versus how well they would like it to be doing.
8. Develop a detailed action plan and execute -- the gap determined in the previous step is then analysed to produce an action plan which in turn is tested against the factors causing failure and the factors for success in order to ensure that a practical "doable" plan results.
The above analysis is simple and powerful and a very useful technique in diverse business situations and harnesses the collective knowledge and experience of a group of people in an effective and concise manner that limits discussion and maximizes quality output.
These steps can be applied to critical issues analysis of market forces, market critical success factors, market attractiveness factors, market segments, etcetera.
They can also be applied to determine critical competence (knowledge and experience) required for human resource appointment and development.
If effectively applied in defining critical information needs for a new E.R.P. or M.I.S. they can create a foundation for effective management decision support.
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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