Sunday, 27 September 2009

Here we go

Well, that's it. No more prevaricating, no more delays. Tomorrow is the day - SAP go live day. No further hold ups, no excuses. It doesn't matter if we are ready or not, here we go.

The last few weeks have been crazy - the amount of work, mind numbing. Everything else went out of the window apart from the SAP project. All calls from suppliers and cold callers were turned away - all meetings cancelled apart from the project team meetings. And the last couple of weekends, we have all worked our butts off, to do the best we can to make sure we are ready.

There have been a few issues with the data load - it started OK, but then one set failed and it took several hours to find the problem. It turned out that one of the consultants had made some changes in the Development system which had been transported to the Test system but not the Production system. As a result, the data load worked in one, but fouled up in the other. OK that got fixed, but we uncovered some more items like that which delayed the process each time. We started to get a bit worried - in the end, all of the static data is done, we just have a few items left to do, but they are live data items so can be loaded over the next few days. W also found that some pricing information was way out - a change had been made to some data, and no-one knew about it. A minor issue, but it held things up becase we had to find out why.

There was also an issue with some of the product information - the consultants had been asked to make a minor change to allow for a particular piece of data we need to allow us to report on in a particular way - they had done some work, but it was wrong and we only uncovered this when the production manager ran a report. It hasn't been fixed yet, but they say that they'll have a solution in the next 2 days.

There was also a bit of friction between finance and sales - the sales people had cleaned up their data, but left a load of customer information in as they wanted to be able to track marketing effectiveness. The problem was that when finance started to look at it, they found some companies that no longer existed due to M & A activity, plus some that have unfortunately closed due to the economy. I can see the problem from both sides and normally I don't think it would be that big a deal, but everyone is now getting very tense, so smaller issues get blown up out of proportion.

The consultants got a guy to do a check of the hardware and configuration to make sure it's all OK. He sent thru some suggestions for parameter changes which I did on Friday. I checked and all was fine - but first thing Saturday, I got a call to tell me the system had fallen over. I quickly restarted and it seemed all right, but thought I should go in to be safe - a good job too as it fell over again. I looked at the log and realised that it was referring to a problem with one of the parameter changes, the value they had given me was totally out. Having put it back to the way it was, everything carried on ticking over.

The project team have been doing a lot of data check and testing of processes, far more than the consultants said we needed, but not as much as I think we need. I'm not convinced that the guys have been able to test all of the different scenarios or variants - but there's no time left to do any more.

My eldest was invited to a party for a friends birthday - her father was throwing a barbecue, so after I finished yesterday, I dropped by. It was really busy and it was nice just to sit with a beer with the sun going down and not have to think about too much. However, I got talking to to guy that used to work for a company that installed SAP a few years ago. We compared stories and although it was an earlier version, and different consultants, it was a strangely familiar tale. I am glad that it's not just us - it may sound crazy, but it helps when you look at something that's wrong and you can feel that other people have been here before.

Any way, there we are. In total, we have spent just over 3 years on this project, just under 30 months of that with SAP. I haven't seen the final costs and I know that the FD is holding back a couple of invoices and he says he won't pay them to make sure that we don't get left without access to proper consultant support (although I suspect we might be better off going elsewhere). However, the project cost seems to be a little under $1.5 million for the consultants and software - we think that with all the work our people have put in, we have spent another $750,000. Has it been worth it? Only time will tell.

Going to get a good nights sleep - early start tomorrow. I'm not sure how I really feel about it, it almost seems to be unreal. I really don't know what to expect - I'm hoping it will go well, but just a bit afraid that it won't. Still it's too late to worry about it know, just got to get on and deal with it the best we can. I think that the coffee machine is going to be working overtime this week.

I'll try to post more over the next few weeks so that you can see how things turn out.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Data loading

As you might guess, we are in the process of loading data into the production system, ready for the final tests before going live. The last couple of weeks have been frantic - we are just over half way there.

There have been a few issues - we had a big problem because the consultants hadn't transported a configuration change. The data wouldn't load and we had to wait for the consultant to process the change before we could carry on. There was another open issue for which they finally came up with an answer only for us to find that we had to modify the data load file in order to deal with this new item.

There has also been an issue with one of the tests - it's producing the wrong output figures. We are not sure why as in the tests in the test system, it worked fine. We are still checking this one out.

The guys at one of our other sites has also hit a snag. They wanted an output document for inventroy control - long term, they want a barcode on the paper so that we can use a scanner. Unfortunately, the document that they specified is producing completely wrong data; again we're not sure why.

In addition, there has been a problem emailing paperwork to customers / suppliers. It worked on the test system, but for some reason not yet discovered, it doesn't work on the production system.

Everyone is putting in a lot of overtime - we are all getting very tired and starting to make stupid mistakes. I think everyone needs to take a vacation after this.