Sunday, 13 February 2011

Same old, same old

I've been very busy over the last month - there have been a lot of different jobs that needed doing, and I've travelled quite a bit in the process of doing that work. So I've not really had the time to add anything. However, there is something that I am going to post about - and it involves the work that is being done for the first of our overseas sites.

As I've indicated, there is a lot of work that needs to be done for the new site before they can start to use our SAP systems. They have had a group of consultants on site now for some months - I'm not sure how many, as I originally set-up 5 accounts for them, but I know that at least two others have been involved, but as they used the accounts of the others to do the work, I'm not sure who has done what.

Originally, the staff were supposed to have had their training last year, but this never happened. I'm told by one of the staff, that they would see the consultants arrive on site, they would grab a coffee and then vanish into an office, where they stayed until late in the evening. There was no attempt made to talk to staff or managers, and they barely even greeted anyone. As of the middle of January this year, we still had no information on what training would be done when, by who or where it would take place.

Last weekend I was up at our second site - there is some work that has been scheduled for some time, and I spent several days getting it completed, getting back late on Monday night. On Tuesday morning, I walked into a major discussion between people, and spent most of the morning trying to figure out what had happened.

It turns out that a consultant we know nothing about had turned up on the overseas site to do some training the week before. This hadn't been discussed with anyone here as far as I've been able to determine, but it's possible that they had made the arrangement with the local staff, but just not let anyone here know what their plans were.

Anyway, this guy had asked one of the site managers about his user account - I set this (and the others up about 2 years ago, and had sent them all the details. I'd also created specific unique roles for that site, and these had been detailed out in a document that was given to the consultants when they started work last year.

However, the manager couldn't remember the account details - well it's been a couple of years so I can't blame him. I'm told the consultant insists that he tried to call me, but I received no call, no voicemail, no email, nothing. None of my staff were called either. So he went ahead and created a new account for the manager. As he didn't use the format that we have agreed for this, it was pretty easy to see what had been done.

He also created a new role for the manager - again it didn't use the format agreed and it was easy to spot what had been done. Rather than copy an existing role, he created one from blank and then added in a whole menu tree - I haven't counted, but it looks like there are between 3,000 and 4,000 t-codes in there. It also looks like he changed the authorisation objects so that they are set to wildcards for most of the things such as company codes, etc.

OK, so this is a pain, but it's not really that serious right? Except that he had done this directly in the production system. That wouldn't have been such an issue, but he then used that to do the training - and they have created a load of test items in the production system which are just garbage. It caused a real nightmare for the sales people as these items have shown up on their contract review, and no-one knew what the heck it was supposed to be for. Fortunately, it hadn't gone thru to production, or we would have a major problem.

I spent most of Wednesday going thru tidying up the crap that had been left. I don't know what other training is planned, but I'm hoping to speak to the manager concerned tomorrow as he is visiting us. However, it appears that he is on a tight agenda, so I may not get the time I need.

I just feel so darn tired - I think that I need to take a vacation.


  1. Just wondering, will the consultant, or the consulting firm he/she works for, suffer any consequences for this mis-behavior? On a contractual basis, entering test data into a production system would seem to me to constitute professional misconduct that ought to result in reimbursement of fees, at a minimum.

  2. I agree with Frank. I mean, rubbish gets entered during training, mistakes are made etc, but that is what a development or seperate testing system is for. Once you describe the situation, I would expect any decent consultant organisation to be on your side about this, as well.

    However, given your past history with these guys, I wouldn't hold your breathe. I do feel disapointed for you, as you have had a very bad team of Implementation Consultants.

    Wishing you all the best, and I hope things turn around.

  3. You asked "is this serious?". To me, it is because it is so completely obvious that it should never happen. Yes, the implications might be minor and the consultant might be able to rationalize that the impact is minimal... not serious. But no one should ever be creating fictitious data in a production system. It's a tenet of SAP's 3 tier landscape architecture and I assume, most any other vendor's system as well. The question to ask is "under what set of circumstances would you recommend or advise that you *should* create false data in a live system?" There isn't really an answer to that question because it's so damning. So, it's quite serious to me because it shoes either complete incompetence (which given their knowledge of creating security roles probably isn't the case hear) or complete disregard for any industry or IT professional standards. A consultant (and their firm) should have both. Since this clown obviously is lacking the latter and creating data like this in Production is so alarming, I'd raise it up for contractual review.

  4. You should join twitter as you have quite a legion of followers as the "good" SAP consultants out there shake their head when they hear your stories.

  5. Yes, this is serious, old friend. Given the multiplicity of consultant problems that you have faced, I would posit that the onus is now on you to master your consultants. That begins with serious due diligence before any of them set foot onsite. I further suggest using a knowledge, objective third party for that due diligence.

  6. Guys,

    Once again, a big thank you to everyone that reads this blog and posts the kind words. It makes a big difference to me.

    Regarding the consultants, I agree that they should be penalised for the mess ups and waste - but that ain't going to happen. I don't know what the background is, but I feel pretty sure that there is something political behind the choice of the SI. By now any other group would have been thrown out on their ass - yet we are still paying pretty much whatever they invoice us for. The FD has managed to get some of the bills reduced, but not by a great deal. I know he is not happy at all.

    In terms of project ownership, I haven't had a great deal of say in what happens for some time now - I've been told in so many words, to suck it up and get on with what I have to do. When they told me that we had new consultants for the overseas site, I asked for information about them - and was told it was nothing to do with me (even though I was then supposed to create accounts for them)! It is highly frustrating as I'm sure you will appreciate.

    A while back, I managed to identify some people that have considerable SAP experience, that are available for us to use almost immediately and that would cost quite a bit less than we are paying. Yet this was rejected out of hand with no explanation.

    The fact is that I know that things could (and dare I say should) be better. I don't pretend to be an expert with SAP yet, but some of the issues that we have faced are not unique to SAP, but are common in any project.

    Still despite all of the issues, I suppose that we can still point to the fact that our systems are working - most of the work does get done without too many issues, and we are starting to get some information out of the systems that makes sense. I've also met a couple of people in the last few months that are in a far worse state of affairs than us.
    So I suppose that I should be greatful as it could be a very different picture.

    But I still think we could do better.