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Links to previous articles at the end
of this article
in this thread I outlined some key factors
in developing a robust procurement model and contract for
business information systems. This 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.
looked 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.
This article builds further on
these foundations by discussing "Executive Engagement", the "Facilitation of
Change", the "Bid Compliance Checklist", the "Adjudication Checklist", the importance of
a Prescribed "Bid Table of Contents", the key role of a comprehensive
"Reference Pack" and the importance of a Data Warehouse and Business
Intelligence as critical components of a total solution.
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 that suffered by the
BBC are entirely preventable. Recent experiences
are also relevant in considering what follows:
10. Executive Engagement
vital component of the Client Compact is executive
engagement, ensuring that Client Executives engage with
the process and provide critical input and decisions
timeously in a focused manner. This has been
discussed in more detail in the article on Executive
Custody in the "Real
Concomitant with this is a requirement for the Implementer to
mobilize staff who can operate at the Executive level effectively, such
that Client Executive time is limited to what is really required.
This necessitates a high standard of professionalism on the part of
the Implementer. Inherent in this approach is the role of
Strategic Facilitator -- a senior advisor who is able to represent the Client
Executives in terms of business and project insight to a significant
degree. The Strategic Facilitator is thus critical.
11. Facilitation of Change
"Change Management" is a key element of any large business systems
project. The common wording is inaccurate and unhelpful, I prefer
"Facilitation of Change". This is a role that the corporate
Human Resources function should be actively involved in.
Much traditional "Change Management" involves using training and other
measures as a blunt instrument to bludgeon staff into accepting badly
designed and badly configured solutions that push large amounts of work
out of the system and onto the users. A well configured and well
tested system, configured in close partnership with the business, will
be easy to teach and easy to operate, thereby significantly reducing the
Change Facilitation component.
That said, there remains a need for smoothing the path of change,
particularly for staff members who have their jobs radically redefined
or eliminated. Appropriate expertise should be a core element of
the requirement and the project.
The use of interactive computer based learning applications that test
personnel so that they are only released to use components of the system
once proven competent is strongly recommended.
12. Bid Compliance Checklist
Returning to the Tender documents, another key document is the
"Bid Compliance Checklist", a list of all the documents that bidders are
required to submit as part of their offer.
This checklist was originally created as an internal client bid
evaluation team document, but I have found that it is helpful to provide
the checklist to the bidders and have them initial every item to
indicate whether they have provided the item or not.
13. Bid Adjudication Schedule
The Bid Adjudication Schedule is developed by the Executive Team,
facilitated by the Strategic Facilitator and comprises a hierarchical
classification of the Key Criteria to be used in adjudicating the bid.
I generally work with between 7 and 9 primary criteria, each of which
is broken down into between 5 and 9 secondary criteria. Each
primary category is weighted out of 100% to indicate relative importance
and the child criteria are similarly weighted. The primary weight
is then applied to the secondary weight in order to give the overall
weighing of each of the roughly 49 points. These are the most
important factors to be used in evaluating each bid.
The schedule is included in the Tender documents as a "Draft
for Information" so that bidders are informed as to the most important
elements that their offer must address. This ensures that bids are
more readily compared and that bidders focus on what is really
important to the client in the summary of their bid, both in the bid
documents and bid presentation.
The schedule is issued as a draft on the basis that, during the
evaluation process, the adjudication team may revise the criteria as
they gain insight into the offers. This allows the business to
revise the criteria or the weights. Remember, the goal is the BEST
solution for the organization NOT some school room arbitrary rigor that
gets in the way of the optimum solution.
The structured and weighted list ensures that the most important items
receive most focus, this works far more reliably as a decision support
tool than a simple list of about 49 points without hierarchy. This
is FAR better than the lists of hundreds of detail points that I have
seen applied on numerous occasions on sub-optimal projects.
Frequently badly structured lists result in bad buying decisions.
thought out lists, as with all the points regarding structure
of information raised in associated articles, facilitate quality decisions
-- the issue is the THINKING that goes into the structured list in terms
of what is REALLY important from a decision making perspective.
14. Prescribed Bid Table of Contents
A detailed "Bid Pack Table of Contents" should be provided which
prescribes the Table of Contents that bidders must use for their
offer. This ensures that competing bids can be easily laid out
next to each other and compared on a section by section basis.
This also allows adjudicators to more readily engage with and
internalize competing offers, resulting in a more effective and
efficient adjudication process and a more defendable and better quality
This also makes it very easy to assess the extent to which bidders are
willing to align themselves with client requirements during the bid
process. A bidder who cannot be bothered to align with client
requirements at the bid stage is unlikely to align later on.
15. Comprehensive Pack of Reference Documents
order to make the required scale of the project visible
the Tender pack must include a comprehensive
set of reference documents as a
minimum requirement. This should include samples of all reports,
spreadsheets, outputs of custom software that is to be replaced,
etc. The goal is to define the current state as comprehensively as
In the first stage of the procurement these documents can be redacted
(sensitive detail removed or blacked out) but in the final stage of the
procurement the actual documents and spreadsheets should be furnished in
order to ensure that the preferred bidder is able to estimate
effectively. This obviously goes hand in hand with a robust
Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreement.
It is important to note that this pack is a reference to the current
state of affairs and NOT a specification for the future. The
future requirement must be developed in detail during the discovery
stage once the software and implementer have been selected and there is
full knowledge of what is standard in the new solution. Budget
provision must also be made for further definition of new reports and
Business Intelligence models during the Laboratory stage.
16. Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence
As a general principle any new system should be accompanied by a Data
Warehouse and Business Intelligence component for analysis and reporting
purposes, particularly across multiple systems. Provision should
be made for this in the RFP or it should be explicitly excluded.
that, provided the principles outlined in the parallel
thread on "Strategically
Enriching your Business Information
Systems" are applied and the comments in the
" thread relating to data
engineering and precision configuration are taken into account, a wealth
of high value information will be unlocked in the data warehouse.
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
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. Please see the special offers at the end of this email
with regard to one day interventions that will afford you the
opportunity to add value with a small investment.
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
Please forward this to anyone you think may find it of interest.
Dr James Robertson PrEng
James A Robertson and Associates Limited
Assisting clients to thrive through effective and efficient application of Business Information Systems
to serve the Almighty Creator in all
Mobile: +44 (0) 776-862-2875
Landline: +44 (0) 207-059-0007
Articles published so far in the article series to which this email refers:
Essence -- The Missing Link in Business Information
A discussion of how strategic essence should inform ALL business
improvement projects and particularly business information system
projects. This thread discusses the analysis of strategy, the
planning of strategy and feeding strategy through into business system
specifications and the management of business improvement
projects. Articles to date include:
The Essence IS Different
Essence is the Point of Departure
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. Coupled to discussion of the critical factors that must
be taken into account in order to achieve successful outcomes.
This thread is progressively discussing more hands-on specifics of
achieving high value outcomes and builds on the Strategic Essence
series. Articles to date include:
Mythology and Lack of Executive Custody
Lack of Strategic Alignment and Lack of Precision
Enriching your Business Information System s
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.
thread is discussing 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
threads. Articles to date include:
Principles of Data Engineering
Steps in Applying these
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 discusses the components of such a procurement
approach. The individual documents and processes that make up the
approach are outlined. Thereafter the components will be discussed
in more detail. Articles to date include:
Bill of Services, Laboratory, Go-live Certificate,
extract from an email that I was copied
with recently from a manager at a large
multi-national client from whom I requested a referral
to contacts in Europe:
"About 3 years ago I
attended one of the best courses / lectures in IT I have
ever had at ... The lecturer was so on the ball
with my thinking that ... I thought he was
outstanding in all aspects, especially in
professionalism and delivery.
"This person (James
Robertson) now moved to the UK ... ... I have not met
another IT person quite as professional as James
Robertson, ... I wouldn’t be writing to you if I
wasn’t totally impressed by him. Call me if you
want to discuss further."
To inquire about purchasing any of the above services simply click on
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send it to me. If for some reason the email does not open please
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Should you require further information please email me and I will be
delighted to connect by email, phone or Skype to answer all your
I look forward to being of service to you.
There is a more detailed version of this document at the end of this page for larger projects with a more detailed procurement process
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:
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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
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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