Thursday, 14 May 2009

Status Report

The go live is delayed again - it seems appropriate to put together an overview of where we are.

From the previous post, you'll know that the CRM just isn't working - the consultants are squirming like worms on a hot plate, but whatever they say, it is just no good in it's current format. We've tried our best, but at some point we will have to move on.

By department, Marketing probably have the least to worry about - no CRM, and nothing else has been arranged. They will almost certainly not be using SAP at all.

The Sales staff are reasonably happy with their processes in the ERP and can make quotes, place orders etc. fairly well. There is a problem in that it still doesn't price things up correctly; some of the tests have come out with really bad results, up to $100 out on a single item. This is being looked at, but it has been an issue for about 6-8 months now. There were problems with the output documents such as invoices, confirmations etc. but most of these have been rectified. The remaining issues are a nuisance, but wouldn't stop us going live - although we might look a bit stupid with some of the errors.

Purchasing is also working well for the most part - their only problems are back to back ordering and batching of purchase items which have been an issue almost from the beginning. There have also been some concerns over the releasing of purchase orders; we have found occasional glitches. However, these have not been too serious.

Within Manufacturing, most of the processes are also OK, but there has been an issue with goods movement - it still isn't right. About a third of them are having to be corrected by the senior production manager and he has been given much higher access than would normally be the case just so that he can correct these problems. They do have an issue in that some of the workshop documentation they need is still not yet working - and this could cause serious delays in the output as the staff have to wait for production managers to resolve quite simple inquiries.

The Inventory is a big problem - so far, we've not been able to get a valid figure on anything, and some of the errors are so riduculous. Literally thousands of items appear on stock figures instead of 1.

The Project Team are badly affected by this and it has proven to be the biggest failure so far. Transfer of goods between sites generates all sorts of strange anomalies. On top of that, only about 10% of the standard project tests came out even close to being correct - several have generated errors in the 10s of thousands of dollars and in one case almost half a million dollars.

Logistics have managed to work around the few issues that they had - there is a problem with the stock racking, but they can live with it. They have been waiting for their output documentation for months - they finally got it sorted about a month ago, and we've also now managed to get the address labels printing this week. However, there is still an issue with some of the output - addresses don't quite appear correctly. This is not too serious, but we would like to get it right if possible.

The finance though is a mess - the chart of accounts just didn't match what we needed. The consultant that was supposed to be their specialist didn't seem to understand some of the basic requirements. At this stage, we can just about invoice, but there are major discrepancies and no sign of how these can be resolved yet. They also don't have access to a lot of the reports that we were told they would be able to generate. It is still being worked on, but the Accounts staff are not happy at all.

The QA / QC people are also not satisfied - the defect notification aspect appears to be non operational. They have tried several times, but so far the consultants appear to have no one that has even the most basic understanding of this aspect.

There were so many other reports missing, that almost every department was concerned. We have had a specialist on site and he has fixed several of these, but not all of them. This of course is a major reason for buying an ERP system - without it, we will struggle to use it for more than a few months.

Finally, we are supposed to have a Document Management system, and yes it is installed. However, there are serious questions still unanswered about how it will work - it was supposed to automate several processes, but instead they have become more labor intensive. We were given to understand over a year ago that they had a way of scanning incoming paper based files for auto assigment - this was completely incorrect, the consultants just referred us to another company that wanted to sell us new xerox machines at twice the price we paid for the ones we have, and still use a manual system for assignment.

So there we are - the go live date has been pushed back again and is now beginning of 4th quarter 2009. When we first met with the consultants, they promised us a go live of January 2008 - I said at the time that was completely impossible, but they were so confident. The strange thing is that their director insists that they made no such promise despite us showing him the actual letters that he wrote.

Oh well, tomorrow is another day.


  1. I really like the last sentence : "The strange thing is that their director insists that they made no such promise despite us showing him the actual letters that he wrote"

    Obviously, SAP projects are long journeys. Here we have a joke, we're used to saying that the first decision a SAP consultants take is the color of his office's tapestry because he knows he will stay long.

    Thanks !

  2. Hi Dev, I've got to be honest, I surprised that you are still following this - it makes me feel quite humbled. It's primarily me just blowing off steam and was only ever intended for that; although I hope that it will help others.

    We are hopeful that we have made our final delay on the go-live. If we get these last few issues sorted out in the next 2-3 months and fully tested, then we should be OK. Then perhaps it will finally be all worth it (but I'm not holding my breath).

  3. I've worked as an ERP consultant (not SAP) myself and I find your blog fascinating. I have always believed that simple solutions are best, and it's nice to see this confirmd.

    What you write should be mandatory reading for anybody considering the implementation of a new software system.

    Many of the things you write about I've also seen at various implementation projects - after all, they are the standard symptoms of a failed or failing implementation - but I've never seen a single project that exhibited all of these symptoms at the same time. Management with unrealistic expectations, incompetent consultants, bullshitting sales staff and consulting managers, exaggerated functionality claims, undocumented - but required - security settings, bad master data (the wrong locations, job functions you write about), etc. etc.

    I hope you will be able to hang in there until the go live date. The good thing is that after this project is over, you can can start working as an independent SAP consultant!

  4. Sander,

    Appreciate the conmment - although I'm not sure that I would want to be an SAP consultant!

  5. Speaking of go-live, if you haven't already, look for the history of Hershey's (as in, "great American chocolate bar") SAP go-live. I don't know the details, but as a neighboring SAP customer, it was hard not to notice. They weren't ready for go-live, but did so anyway, in October (if I remember correctly). It had a really horrible impact on their Christmas candy sales.