Saturday, 22 August 2009

The final stretch?

A couple of weeks ago, I had some contact with a guy that has been in consulting for a long time – he was kind enough to say some goods things about my writing, so I’ve decided to return the favor. Catch his blog here:

One thing that I did find of interest; he referred to a process of project management that is supposed to be used by the consultants – ASAP (AcceleratedSAP I believe it stands for) also known more recently as Focus ASAP / ASAP Focus depending on where you get your info. He said “Outside of IBM and Accenture, all certified partners MUST adhere to SAP’s ASAP methodology, sometimes referred to (recently) as Focus ASAP. Most of these partners add some of their secret sauce to the core SAP methodology. I am willing to bet that if you look at this firm’s proposal of services to you that they make a big deal about their methodology.

I did actually look thru all of the paperwork from these consultants – nowhere does it a make a mention of this. I asked around our project team to see if anyone had heard it cited, and the general answer was a definite “No” – apart from one person who remembered reading a reference to “Focus ASAP” in one of the SAPpress books that we bought a ways back. So I then thought I’d ask their Project Manager – unfortunately, he’s “not available” at the moment (I don’t know why) and we are not sure when we will next see him. I approached one of the other consulting staff and asked the question – the response was along the lines of “Oh that was used about 10 years ago, but no-one uses that anymore, it’s a really horrible system”. Interesting?


As you may imagine, things are hotting up. For many people the project is starting to get real and you can sense the panic growing. I’ve had numerous project members and departmental heads speak to me and even a couple of the board expressing their concerns. We have no formal contingency plans other than those that I and my IT staff have discussed. We are committed to go-live and nothing will stop or delay that now.

A major problem was uncovered in the last week that has created a lot of bad feeling. As I’ve indicated, we trade across borders so use multiple currencies. We suddenly found that all of the customers had a default currency set and that this overrode any attempt to set the right currency. The initial suggestion was that the data was wrong – a quick look at the files showed that wasn’t the case. So we were blamed for loading it incorrectly, but that was quickly disproven.

Eventually, it turned out that the consultants had set the appropriate configuration in the test system, but not in the production system – thank goodness we found it before we started issuing invoices. They blamed us first for not raising it as an issue – however we did, over a year ago and could prove this by referring to the list of issues. They then said that the various departments hadn’t tested the process correctly – they had, but obviously not in the production system. No matter what we showed, they still tried to maintain it wasn’t their problem. And I’m betting that after we go live, all of the problems we then find, they will say the same thing, no matter what the problem.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been doing some travelling to the other sites (partly why I’ve not been adding to the blog) and I’ve heard of some other stories of SAP implementations going on at the moment. What is really surprising is that they are being marketed as successful, and yet from what the people on the ground are saying, they are anything but.

In one case, its being run by one of the Big 3, the others are smaller operations with smaller consultancies. Not one has come in on time, not one on budget, not even close. In each case, it seems highly improbable that the organization concerned will ever see the ROI that they wanted or were promised. At the biggest one, they went live last year and they were expecting some significant reductions in staff because of efficiencies, but instead they have had to take more staff on in order to manually process items because the system isn’t working right. And in that particular case, they’ve outsourced the data center which they expected would save them nearly $1 million a year – the local paper has found that the outsourced costs have increased their bill, not decreased it.

Well enough for now – I expect that over the next few weeks, I’m going to be very busy, so I may not have the time to keep you updated on progress. However, I may try to post a few short items if I can just so that you see how things pan out. What ever happens, many thanks to you all for reading this and for the great comments - they have been really helpful and I hope that I can return the favor one day.


  1. ASAP, or Focus ASAP works just fine. The reason it works is that the basic premise of the methodology is exactly like most any other project methodology out there! Nothing cracks me up more than to hear how any of the consulting outfits brag about their methodology and how it is SO unique and full of accelerators and whitepapers... when, most of the time, they're all identical. At the end of the day, software apps have been installed by gathering requirements, designing solutions, testing them, preping data, and going live.

    The other thing is that you could probably have Accenture use IBM's methodology and vice versa, and they would both be equally successful. Because they all work fine... the methodology isn't the reason why these projects fail. They fail because of inadequate sponsorship, staffing, time, budget, etc. Big rock stuff.

    Keven (A concerned consultant)

  2. Watch it, Keven,
    our Methodology IS unique and different from ASAP, IBM's, Accenture's - You only have to look at the amount of effort that went into naming it :)
    Seriously, though, the biggest issue in any methodology is making sure people use it. And that starts at the top - not the PM, but the organisation itself.

    BTW, Good luck with everything after the go live !!