Tuesday, 27 January 2009

SAP part two

So, just under 2 years ago, we signed up for a SAP implementation with the consultant partners that had been providing the initial presentations.

Having seen the contract that was provided for us to sign, I started to get a bad feeling. I'm not a legal expert, but there is no question that what we were given was poorly put together. It looked as if it had been created from a series of other documents almost at random. I did take a copy and showed it to a solicitor - he was astonished that anyone would actually sign such thing. But we did.

A director from the consultants then had several meeting with our directors; a time table was proposed by him and he assured everyone that it would be possible to implement the software within a time frame that he put forward. I suggested that what he proposed was rather ambitious; it was asked if any of their projects had come in on time and to budget and he very confidently told us that they all came in within a 10% margin (which I would say is not a very bad position if true). However, despite numerous requests, we were given not one name of a customer of theirs that we could actually speak to that had successfully implemented SAP.

He also quoted a number of figures for various costs and suggested payback periods. It was pointed out that his figures literally did not add up - the FD did some quick calculations in the meeting and their total was out by over 20% just on the actual figures on their documents. As of the beginning of 2009, we have already spent over twice the figure that they gave us and we are no where near finished.

My name had been put forward to be project manager based upon my experience, but it was decided that a director would act as project manager. He is pretty efficient, although not especially good at communicating with staff - I spent some time trying to put processes in place to help manage consultant time, costs, availabilty of equipment and resources. I bought a number of books that I thought might help with the various aspects (and they were not cheap; roughly $3000).

The consultants were not happy with this - they wanted their own project manager to be in charge. I had suggested that we should have a process where the consultants would advise us when they were to be on site and what they would do with their time; this would then allow us to keep a tight eye on things - they totally ignored this and refused to provide any advance information.

A project was organised to make sure that everyone knew what was happening and why - a team of managers was assembled and some more PowerPoint presentations were provided by the consultants for us to use to help explain the process. However, these items were no better than anything else we had seen - at the end of the initial launch meetings, I was approached by several of the managers who were trying to find out just what was actually involved and where they fitted into the project as they were completely baffled.

It would also be appropriate to point out that these first meetings did not take place on the days that had originally been scheduled, but a week late - and subsequently, the consultants have completely failed to meet a single milestone.

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