Sunday, 18 October 2009

Oh boy!

I definitely spoke too soon... the question is where to start?

On Monday, there was a meeting about some of the deliveries. It appears that there is a big problem with some that have been sent out on the wrong dates. After considerable analysis, it appears that one of the processes used to check availability of products is re-setting any date that has been entered for delivery, and making it due 7 days after the inquiry. So a load of orders have been rushed thru production and despatched - but in a number of cases, they have arrived well before the actual date the customer wants.

In some instances, they have hung onto the products, but have asked that we accept delayed payment, and to keep them happy, we have had to agree to that. In a couple of cases, the product has been refused and we will have to re-deliver later on (in some cases, next year). Meanwhile, production are upset because they have had to do rush items and it has caused some scheduling issues.

To fix the immediate problem, the Sales Manager sat down with all orders and has gone back over each item and re-entered the required date. However, after his first attempt, one of his staff had gone back in to check the availability using the same process and once more, it had reset dates. As you might imagine, he was pretty pissed about it. They are now checking dates on all outstanding orders each day to try make sure that it doesn't happen again.

We also have a major issue with some stuff that was marked for export. The guy responsible asked for the items to be put on the system, but unfortunately, the overseas client had already placed the order - although the system is supposed to flag duplicate purchase order numbers from the customer, it still isn't doing so as I mentioned last week.

The goods were made twice and as they are non-standard items, we are not going to be able to sell to anyone else. It's cost us about $10,000 not including shipping. To make sure it doesn't happen again, they have developed a manual system of checking each order - at one point they asked if I could create an Access database to monitor the orders!

Finance are not doing well either. A consultant had set up a process for running invoicing automatically - but so far, it has only produced about 1 invoice in 10. The staff are trying to get the rest processed asap, but it seems to take ages just to do one order. They are concerned that if we don't get invoices out, we get no incoming money. I know that we have managed to maintain a reasonable level of cash flow previously, but that could change in a few more weeks if we are not careful.

A big problem has occured at one of our other sites. They were struggling anyway - people were taking too long to process anything at all. I spoke to the GM on site and he was getting really quite anxious - he did indicate that they might have to start turning away orders as they just couldn't get the work done.

This has been made worse as he has now lost all but two of his office based sales staff - they just upped and quit in the middle of the week, saying that they'd had enough. We've been asked to send staff to him to help out, and it is causing some major issues with arrangements. I did also hear that a couple of others have also indicated their intention to leave - this could get really serious.

One good thing tho' - a decision was finally made about the CRM system. After 2 years of work, it's been agreed that the SAP CRM doesn't meet our needs. The way that it runs is just too slow, and the sales people think that the interface is really nasty (it doesn't show what they need on the main screen). It also doesn't produce the information that our Sales Director said was a fundametal requirement.

We have had 4 different consultants workng on the CRM since the beginning - and basically, we have nothing to show for the time that they spent on the processes. The SAPGUI part runs OK, but they said that it had to be used through a web browser - and that was where the problems were. The speed of loading was really poor, up to a minute to move between screens at times.

Over the last 2 years, they have made all sorts of excuses - not enough memory, issues with SQL settings, AV products, the only thing they didn't blame was the phase of the moon! A while ago, they indicated that they wanted to get some more people in to work on the problems, but that they would want more money to do so. The CEO was not impressed - so he has made the decison to forget about the CRM, and the sales staff are happy with that.

The consultant company sent us some documents recently about arranging for support after the go live process. We are alreading paying for SAP support (close to $100,000 pa) and they want us to pay money to them as well. They won't actually come up with a price, but just give loads of .ppt slide with the "benefits" for having them as a support contact. From what I have seen, it could double our support costs - but there would be no reduction in our staff to compensate.

Oh well, tomorrow is another day!

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