Sunday, 8 March 2009

Help me....

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post. Just so much going on that I don't feel like writing anything. However, I've completed something that has been outstanding for a while, so I feel like adding to the blog again.

The CEO is getting really unhappy with the consultants. When we first started work, they insisted that they had to do the installation, and would be responsible for getting it all up and working. I said at the time that I wanted to be involved in this as over the long term, it makes more sense for people on site to take ownership. OK, I accept that it sounds like I'm protecting my job (and that of my staff), and that may be partly true, but I have worked for a company that outsourced a lot of their development and support. When things go well, they are OK, but when they go wrong, it is godawful.

Anyway, having done the first installation, the consultants started work on the second 2. About 10 months ago, they indicated that the work was done. Then a few months went by and one of the project team raised an issue about something not working. After a couple of weeks, the consultants still hadn't fixed the problem, so the guy raised the matter with the CEO. He then called the director of the consultants to ask what was going on and arranged a meeting. That person turned up and during the meeting, he made it very clear that he blamed me for the problems; I hadn't carried out any upgrades or patching.

Now quite why I was supposed to responsible for this when they had refused to provide information or training was not clear; and things got pretty heated. I also showed my notes from a meeting right back at the beginning - it showed that they had said that they would take care of all installation work up to the go-live point.

Anyway, basically, he refused to accept any responsibility and so I was dropped right in it. One the guys found a picture on the internet - it shows an old wooden trading station building, the sort common in the old west and up north. The name on the building shows that it is at a well known creek - and outside are a selection of canoe paddles. They blew the picture up and printed a copy off, which went on the wall of the office. The CEO didn't think that it was too funny, but he didn't say anything, so it's still there.

So over the past 8 months, I have been learning to do things the hard way; find a problem, post it on the SAP help desk site. Then when they respond, I get them to talk me through a process. It's slow painful work, and can get really frustrating. I got in really early one morning a few months back to talk to a guy in Germany about an issue. It took 2 hours, but eventually, we sorted the problem.

Now doing it that way is not going to make me an expert - I doubt that I would even call myself reasonably competent yet. But having gone through stuff with these guys, it has become plain that the consultants are not doing things the way that SAP would want them to; far from it. Several times, the SAP support guy or gal has asked why something has been setup the way that it has (and of corse I don't know). When I queried this, the people at the consultants really got pissed - it's none of my damn busness. Well actually I disagree - OK, I don't own business, but I am responsible for the IT.

Anyway, they are all off site at the moment and won't be back for a couple more weeks. In thwe mean time, one of the SAP support gals highlighted that there were a whole heap of support packages missing. I carried out some work for her and she identified what needs to be added. I have actually lost track of how many I've applied, but I think it's over 20 so far, and I still have 5-6 more to do. During the time working on it, I had some failures, and when I queried, they told me that the kernel needed updating.

If you haven't worked with SAP, then the chances are you think of updates like Microsoft updates; but it doesn't work that way. You apply a patch, but it then reports that there is prerequisite package needed. You apply that and go back again, but it then reports another is missing. Each package is completely separate - no roll ups. I spent all day last Wednesday working on one patch.

Ah well, tomorrow is another day.