We had another meeting yesterday - the director from the consultants arrived with a new guy in tow. Introduced as our new CRM consultant - however, we did some investigation and it turns out that he last did CRM some 5 years ago with version 4 of the product. Since then, he has acted as PM for most of the project he worked. So he seems like a really sensible choice (not).
During the meeting, the director from the consultants said that the new guy would be spending about 10-12 days on site to get an idea of what our requirements were. Excuse me.... what have they been doing for the last 2 years? Un - believable.
Now we were promised at the previous meeting I referred to, they would carry out a demonstration using a customer's system to show that the product works. (That was actually supposed to have been done about a week ago.) However, that still hasn't happened yet - and in addition, they said that they are now setting up a test system for us to see, and they want to make sure that it is OK before they do the demo so it will be another couple of weeks. Color me crazy, but I would have expected that to happen before we bought the damn product, not two years into the project and certainly not a couple of months before we are due to go live.
I have to say that I think the director from the consultants is so full of BS that he could fertilize the Sahara. If he told me that the sun rose in the East, I would want to get up at midnight to check it out for myself, before I would actually believe him. The funniest bit was his insistence that we are on target - we are now actually well over a year behind, but that doesn't seem to be an issue for him. He also tried to say that it's within budget - but not according to their documents, which I still have a copy of. We are in fact over spent by 3 times the original figure they quoted for a 5 year write off - and we had identified at the time that their figure were incorrect as they didn't include several key expenditures.
When I left the meeting, I just wanted to explode.....
The same consultants are also working on another project and occasionally, they can't get to us because they are on site with the other company. They started this project way before ours - not sure just how much longer it's been running. This other company went live back in the new year - I tried to contact them, but their IT manager wouldn't discuss the project with me (they had been told not to I think from the sound of it). Since then, one of our sales staff spoke to one of theirs - and they got the woman's number for me to call.
She's fairly new in the job as it appears they have lost quite a few sales staff because of the project - and she made it clear that she doesn't want to stay long either. She made some comments that no-one really seems to know how the system is supposed to work and they get all sorts of problems during the day which take ages to resolve (she referred to one problem that took 3 days to fix and they lost a huge sale because of this). Their sales people are really fed up with all the wasted time - and it also appears that they lost a couple of IT staff as well which has made the problem much worse.
I've also had a contact with another company (different consultants) - they have only implemented part of the SAP system so far - sales, purchasing and accounts. One of our people went to see them and talked about how they were getting on - they seemed to be doing OK, so it shows that it can happen. But they have also indicated that they are still getting issues - it appears that they had a problem with getting the invoicing correct. I'm not sure exactly what their problem was, but it sounds as if it was applying the wrong pricing. This is something that can happen to any company and I would suggest that most systems have done that at one stage or another, so it would be unfair to highlight this as if it was just SAP.
But even they said that the process had been painful and they were not entirely happy that they were getting all of the benefits that they expected. Questions have been raised about the cost of the project and it seems unlikely they will realise any actual savings for their investment.
Someone made a comment that bad news travels faster than good news - true and I accept that many big project fail somewhere along the line and I'm sure that there are some SAP projects that are models of success. But for me this has been by far the worst project I have ever been involved in by a long way - I've worked with some really astute business people in the past, and I know that they would have demanded heads to roll for a failure a bad as ours has been. I really can see the ax swinging at some stage - and I'm concerned that my guys and I will suffer as a result.
Oh well, tomorrow is another day...