The delivery of high value decision support information lies at the core of why decision makers implement ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems.
In fact, precision configuration to support the delivery of decision support information is critical to successful ERP and related value. There are numerous reasons why.
Thrive decisions drive success
Highly effective and successful organizations exist as a consequence of outstanding strategic, tactical and operational decisions. These thrive decisions direct the organization towards the fulfillment of its essential goals, goals that are aligned with a body of customers who will pay or vote for the products or services delivered.
All too often businesses are forced to negotiate a maze of smoke and mirrors in the implementation of ERP systems and integrated computerised business information systems.
There are several, at times obscure, considerations that should be kept in mind with the implementation of these systems. Our objective is to shed some light and help map out a clear, solid route to ERP value.
Gut feel and experience are 85% of what drive thrive decisions
Thrive decisions require experienced, well trained managers and executives and are heavily (85%) based on gut feel/ instinct and experience to determine the strategic (right) things to do. This experiential wisdom is applied to the hard data to make quality decisions, if the hard data is unreliable then the resulting decision is suspect and we end up with executives "flying by the seat of the pants", effective implementation of ERP to support decision making is therefore vital.
It does not matter how well something is done - if it is the wrong thing to do it will simply weaken and ultimately destroy the organization in time if not corrected. There is no point in optimizing workflow if you are manufacturing the wrong product.
Thrive decisions also require quality hard information
Thrive decisions also require reliable, strategically aligned, intuitively-structured hard information in order to measure organizational performance.
You do not need a fuel gauge to chart your course to Cape Town, but it sure helps to know how much petrol you have in reserve. Thus, while gut feel and experience drive the bulk of decision making, that decision making needs hard data against which to operate.
Theoretically your ERP should deliver that hard information, in practice, however, it frequently does not.
Workflow (process) optimization is fundamentally tactical
Workflow or process-based business optimization, which is the lead characteristic of most ERP implementations, addresses tactical and operational (do things well) issues without focusing on strategic issues.
Executives in 19 out of 20 corporations are dissatisfied with their ERP in terms of decision support
A survey in the Financial Mail some years ago reported that "19 out of 20 ERP implementations do NOT deliver what was promised". The number one reason for this frustration at executive level is the lack of availability of strategically aligned hard information.
"I have spent millions and I cannot get answers to my questions" is a complaint I hear regularly from Chief Executives and other C-class executives.
The reason for the problem is simple; their ERP was NOT implemented with decision support in view.
Decision support is tacked on as an afterthought, and, as an afterthought, it has no hope of working because the software was NOT configured with this goal in mind.
Most organizations are not making better decisions than was the case five years ago
Some years ago the findings of a Gartner survey involving approximately 1,300 Chief Information Officers substantiated this statement. The survey covered individuals from companies that had made substantial investments in business intelligence and found that “most companies are not making better decisions than they did five years ago.”
Why? I hear you ask. The reason is simple, there is NO strategic insight in the way the ERP's are configured and accordingly there is NO strategic insight in the data contained in the ERP's.
Without strategic alignment and strategic insight an investment of millions in an ERP is massively short-changed.
Strategically aligned precision engineered configuration is the missing link
The lack of precision in the configuration of just about every ERP implementation I have assessed, and I have assessed many, is staggering.
Organizations buy a precision machine in the form of ERP software and implementers and business personnel then almost universally implement the ERP in a manner than can only be described as "sloppy", or if you choose to be more diplomatic, "lacking in engineering rigour".
Why? Well, that is how everybody does it! In fact, that is the ONLY WAY they know to do it!
It really has not occurred to most implementers that there is a better way.
They focus on process and decision support goes by the board because most implementers do not understand its importance as a design input, let alone how to support it.
Some years ago I found myself faced with the representative of an ERP company who argued with me about the standard of workmanship of one of the worst Charts of Accounts I had ever seen.
"FRED (insert the name of your ERP) is so powerful it can handle that" he assured me while looking at a Chart of Accounts that defied all rules of logic, structure - in fact anything that qualified it as a source of management information whatsoever!
The moral of the story? The software company that sold FRED did not know how to implement it to its full potential as a strategic decision support tool.
The implementer in this case was printing money with expensive consultants maintaining the most elementary reports imaginable which were constantly broken because of the shocking design of the Chart of Accounts.
In contrast, strategic precision engineered configuration focuses on the essence of the business and how it thrives (strategy), designs the high level structure of code schemes with decision support in mind and driven by the executive team uses highly hierarchical taxonomies.
All configuration is then driven off this precise design resulting in configurations which are MUCH easier to use and cost MUCH LESS to maintain and which consistently give performance improvements across the board.
Precision strategic taxonomies are the essence of the opportunity
Within the concept of precision configuration, precision strategic taxonomies are at the heart.
These taxonomies capture the strategic (essence of the business) focus of the executive team on a fundamental first principles basis.
This approach incorporates logic which recognizes and works with the psychology of information assimilation and interpretation. This process makes difficult data easier to engage with, interpret and analyse - and ensures robust, sustainable reports and analysis that can push the boundaries of corporate performance measurement.
As a result there is support for excellence and a thrive culture in which all involved benefit.
In conclusion the reasons stated above explain why there is only one way to unlock the true value of ERP and that is through precision strategic configuration executed with engineering rigor and attention to detail.
Click here to send us an email subscribing to our free newsletter -- all articles posted by James Robertson will be emailed to you
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.
You can contact us on
LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/drjamesarobertsonerpdoctor
Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/james.a.robertson.393
Mobile: +44 (0) 776-862-2875
Landline: +44 (0) 207-059-0007
Fax: +44 (0) 844 774 4580
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