Sunday, 11 October 2009

Did I speak too soon?

The first couple of days this days this week went OK - pretty much like last week. But then we hit some problems.

The issue with the documents printing out extra pages is still going on, although we have one of the consultants back in to help us. He's been looking at the specifics, but hasn't found anything so far. He originally suggested that we had faulty settings on the print server, but after making us double check it all, he had to admit that there is nothing wrong there.

On Wednesday, one of the staff in sales was putting orders on the system and suddenly realised that the prices were coming out incorrectly - she only spotted this as she has been doing the job for close to 15 years and can tell if a price is close or not, which these weren't. They spent the next 2 days checking this out but so far, no-one can see where it's going wrong. All we know is that the prices loaded were correct.

We also had a problem with the production plan on Thursday - for some reason several orders were entered twice (we haven't yet found out why) and this caused the production schedule to change to deal with an unanticipated demand. The system is supposed to detect if a customer's reference number is entered twice, but it didn't flag this up as it is supposed to do.

I've been busy with changes to user roles - I'm still getting just under a dozen a day. It's starting to get tedious, but one of the consultants said that this is quite common. He indicated that one project he was on had changes being made to the user roles every day 3-4 months after their go-live. I sure hope that's not the case with us as I have lots of other work that I need to be doing. Most of this is stuff that has been delayed because of the SAP implementation and we need to be getting on with catching up.

I've also heard some complaints from senior managers. They want specific reports daily / weekly and what they are getting is not what they want. We were told by the consultants that all of this was standard and they gave us transaction codes for reports - but it turns out that some of these don't actually give us what we asked for. One in particular is a report that indicates sales invoiced, but the figures that it is producing make no sense at all. We also had a labor report that seems to indicate that efficiency levels are about a quarter of what they were a few months ago.

On the plus side, people are starting to get to grips with the program. I don't get so many people locking themselves out because they entered the wrong password. They are still slow at using it though, but that's probably because they are still finding their way around; it's going to take a few months for them to pick up some speed. We had a few complaints about speed on a couple of occasions, but we were able to identify that someone else was running a report or other process that was tying up resources - hopefully, we have now put a stop to that.

In particular, we found some workflow items that had been set-up by a consultant that were failing every time they ran. We had run into this before and with the SAP support had found out how to correct this; we were able to do the same this time.

In addition, we had some feedback from the SAP Earlywatch check. They basically indicate that our systems have more than enough processing power / memory to run the program. This contradicts what the director of the consultants tried to tell us some months back (he insisted that we didn't have enough memory). They also made some suggestion about settings which we have now implemented, and some others about security permissions which we can't just yet.

My staff and I now have a basic routine in place to check on the system performance although I think we need a bit more experience to be able to understand the results better. Unfortunately, we have nothing to judge the results against - I have no way of knowing if we are doing a good job or not, or if the results are good, bad or indifferent.

Oh well, such is life. I suppose that these are mostly the types of teething problems that everyone gets with a new product.

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