Sunday, 25 September 2011

I'm Back!

I’m back! Before you ask, I had a great time thank you.

Unfortunately, the flight back was delayed – and we got home very late on the Sunday. There were a number of messages waiting on the ansafone (I hadn’t taken my cell phone), and essentially, the messages all said that I was to get over to our overseas site asap. So I packed a fresh suitcase, and got my flights booked – with an early flight, the time differences plus the delays the day before, I was really very tired by the evening.

I spent the week over there, and then it was decided that I should go back again this last week. What with that plus trying to do my normal work and various other chores, this is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and analyze the situation.
I’ve not been told officially, but it appears that a number of staff have been told that the overseas site will not be going live in October after all. I’m not surprised – the data load was supposed to have started the 1st week of August and it hadn’t started by September. Even now, very little data has actually been loaded, and it appears that there are still some unresolved issues with parts of it.

During my first week over there, I spent a bit of time doing some training – about half of the staff there had still not even logged onto the test client, and they are a long way from being confident in using SAP. I also had a very upset General Manager complaining that there was a printing problem. When I checked, it was actually only one document that had the problem – the sales order form, so rather important that they gets this fixed.

I haven’t done that much work on the smart forms, but I took a quick look, and discovered that one their consultants had made the change. Unfortunately, no-one knows why or what for, and the guy isn’t available. I’ve left it to them to chase up, but so far, it’s still not printing at all.

Another issue has also appeared recently that affects the financials. At first, the consultants suggested that it was an authorization problem, but we’ve now identified that certain products are being assigned to the wrong ledger code. Again, no-one is really quite sure why – we have our consultants telling us that the configuration was correct, and their consultants are saying that it’s not. So they’ve made a change and now we have a problem.

Our Accounts Manager is really upset about all of this. A couple of times now, she has spoken to me in private, and it’s clear that she is very distressed about the whole scenario. She’s been with the company a long time, and has been thru some really tough times, but I think that this is the worst she has ever felt about her job. I just don’t know what to say to her anymore.

I’m also a bit concerned about the amount of testing that they have done. If you’ll remember, a bunch of us went over back in April, and we did some full end to end testing of processes and made sure that everything worked – but that was only using a limited amount of test data.

The guys on site have access to the test system and although not all of the live data has been loaded, about 80 – 90% is available. But the testing that they have been doing is not the same end to end testing. Yes they have put a whole ton of quotes, purchase orders, sales orders on the system, but they have not then followed this thru to make sure that orders appear on the MRP or that sales get billed.

It could be argued that we shouldn’t need to test again, as it was proven to work in the development system and we are using the processes in the production system. But the issue is that their consultants have made a few changes and I strongly feel that we can’t be absolutely sure that any of their tests would actually work unless we do try it out.

I did manage to speak to the GM of our overseas site one evening over a beer – he is very much of the opinion that they will not be ready for the start of October. He did suggest that perhaps they could have a staged approach to the go-live, perhaps by working in tandem on both systems. I wouldn’t have a problem with that in principle, but they don’t have that many staff, and I’m not sure they could actually do that.

Oh well, back in to work tomorrow, and maybe I’ll find out a little more about what the plans are.