Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The days and months go by..

I hadn't realised just how long ago it was that I last posted - almost a month.

A few weeks ago, it was my birthday - the kids put together a special treat for me and we planned a meal at a local restaurant. Of course, I was late home, just time to hit the shower and change, then off out with wet hair. I have to be honest, I didn't feel like celebrating, and we cut the evening a bit short. When we got home, I sat down and fell asleep. When I woke up the next morning, I was still there; and my wife had got a blanket and was there with me. I can't get over how lucky I am to be married to her - either I did something really good in a previous life, or this is a case of "pay it forward".

My wife felt that I needed to see the family physician again. He confirmed that my blood pressure is still climbing, although the cholesterol is OK (just). He wants me to take a vacation and I can't disagree with him; we are looking at taking a break later in the year. I don't care where it is - just somewhere that I can relax and forget about all this crap.

Anyway, back to work - I managed to get all of the support package updates loaded. There were a few issues afterwards, but I also managed to get those sorted as well. As I said previously, the only training I've had has been the one day early last year, and that wasn't that good. I feel that despite this, I'm actually making some ground up, although it is still very difficult. As one of the commentators said "SAP = Slow And Painful".

The project team have been working on doing end user training. As a result, there isn't a day that goes by when I don't get requests for changes to user role permissions. Most of these, I can do fairly quickly and I am at the point where I can quote most of the transport numbers for the roles - I've been doing this far too long! This has been happening for about a month now; and the general feeling is that we are not going to hit the go-live date by a long margin. This has caused considerable upset - the CEO is not happy to move it yet again. However, I don't see that he has a choice; we are still waiting for so much work to be completed. Almost every week, we find that something that was fixed is broken again. There are still issues that have been highlighted previously (one going back over a year) that still have yet to be fixed.

None of the consultants have been on site over the last month, but they are still working on stuff. I had a really nasty call from their project leader demanding to know why he couldn't get access to our system - the reason was that someone from SAP Active Support was carrying out some work to correct an error in a database table made by one of his colleagues. That has caused yet another set of emails to fly back and forth as they deny that it is anything to do with them.

Our Sales Director has also been in contact with their people. We bought their CRM system on the basis that it would be useful to have it as it links in to the ERP side and this would save a lot of issues. Unfortunately, it has been a complete disaster - the software is slow, buggy, unstable and it's been reported many times that it isn't linking correctly although the CRM consultant said that it was all set-up as it should be. I finally managed to get directions to correct the link, but it still doesn't seem to do what they promised it would. It's so slow that the sales staff would simply not be able to use when talking to customers.

The CRM runs in Internet Explorer and it crashes when more than 3 or 4 people are working on it. There have also been some issues with incorrect data being returned from some of the searches. It links to Exchange for the email, but there seems to be an issue with saving the emails and we have had some corruption of data. The reporting seems to be skewed; we have had some odd outputs, and although they said that they had the output text sorted, it's wrong again. The worst was a printout that should have been 1 page showing a customers basic sales data for the previous month - it came out as over 100 pages, most of it complete garbage.

Our CEO took this up with a director from the consultants - his response was to say that it works perfectly, that hundreds of customers use it and that it must be down to the stupidity of our staff. I'm not sure where we are going to go from here - the CEO has pretty much given them an ultimatum, it works as we need by the end of May, or he wants his money back. In the meantime, the sales people have another CRM system that they think will do the job; it is about a quarter the price of the SAP CRM.

So where we go from here, I really don't know. My guys and I are working long hours, weekends and putting all the effort in that we can; but we are getting tired, and there are some minor health issues which are starting to appear which never bothered us previously. The project manager and project team are all despondant; they are trying their best, but it just doesn't seem to be good enough. The CEO recognises this, but he is in a difficult position politically - if we delay further, it will reflect badly on him. He's not stupid though - he sees the problems and can see how bad things could be if we go before we are ready.

Well enough for now - I have to prepare a report for the next board meeting.

1 comment:

  1. Good to get some news from you after long time. I wondered whether you would continue and I am happy to read you again. I am just unhappy to hear about the blocking points and the side effects on your personal life and health of project team. The argument that you're mentionning is well too common: "the software does not work because your staff is incompetent or is reluctant to change". We all know this and this is just so boring. Our company was very close to buy the internet version of the CRM that you're using (I guess it is SAP CRM 7). After a comparative study, we decided to abandon SAP CRM and to turn to another CRM. Main reasons were: cost, user friendliness, business orientation of the tool. I wish you the same. And I really really hope that you'll be able to better balance your work and private life, seems to become urgent now.