Monday, 30 May 2011

No change here...

It’s been about a month since my last post – and there’s a simple reason for that. I’ve been really busy on other projects, not related to SAP. I’m not the only either – several other departments have also been catching up on various things that have been delayed.

We started the SAP implementation about 4 years ago. At times it seems astonishing how quickly the time has passed, at other times it seems that we have been working on it for ever. The problem is that during that time, so much effort has gone into the project, that many other jobs have been postponed. In a couple of cases, this has not been a good thing – we needed to get on and get them done so it was decided that we would do exactly that.

For IT, there have been a couple of hardware refresh jobs, replacing workstations, printers and a Xerox machine. We’ve also been testing a couple of tablets that we think might be of value to the sales force. There have been couple of jobs done within some of the offices to make more efficient use of the space available, so we were also getting involved in the cable work. As you can see, this has meant that there hasn’t been a lot of time left to do more than basic work on SAP.

After the last visit to our overseas site, everyone felt that we had gotten thru a lot of the outstanding work and had almost caught up so that we would be back on schedule. When we left, the point was made that they needed to get on with the data preparation so that it could be loaded. We had done some loading of a few basic data items into the Development system, but not all of the data, and literally only a few items in each category. A decision was made that we would load no more into the Dev system and just go straight thru to the QAS system.

I was a bit concerned about this, as I felt that the actual loading wouldn’t really take up that much time, and felt that it would make sense to try to get all of the data sorted and proven. However, I could see that we need to keep on schedule – I’m not happy about cutting corners, but I can probably live with this.

However, when the data arrived, it quickly became clear that it was simply no good. Not one of the data loading batch jobs was able to complete successfully, and most were so poor that we were looking at maybe 10-20% had gone in successfully on each batch. It was so bad that the project leader took another trip over there to talk to them again. When he arrived back, he was really pissed – he went back over the requirements with their people but feels that they still don’t quite yet get it.
I haven’t been asked if I would go over again, but I know that there have been discussions, and I get the feeling that they are expecting me to offer to go there in the next couple of weeks. As it happens, there is work that I was planning to do, but I’m not sure I will have time to do both jobs, the planned work and talking with them about the data preparation and cleansing.

There is no question that it is essential we get the data right. We found this out ourselves when it was our turn. We have made the point to the people at the overseas site, and several people discussed it with them, making the points very clearly. We provided some sample files showing how it should be done, highlighting the main pitfalls – but none of this seems to have made the slightest difference, and they are now well over a month behind where they should be, and falling further behind each day.

No-one has said anything, but I’m now a bit concerned that they will cut back on the testing in the QAS system before we go live. I’m also a bit worried that staff over there won’t get the full amount of training before their cutover. For me, it would make sense to push the go-live out again, and make sure that things are done right. But it seems that there is something going on in the background, and they don’t seem too keen to discuss any further delays.

Well, we’ll probably know a bit more in a couple of weeks’ time.

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