I did say last time that we had fixed the issues caused by some bad config changes, and that we should be back to normal. Unfortunately, I jumped the gun a bit - we were still having some issues right up to the beginning of the week.
To be fair, these were mostly smaller issues - someone found that they couldn't post a purchase order because one of the items on the list had some mis-matched data. There was a similar issue when the guys in the warehouse were trying to assemble some stock to a delivery. Late on Friday, there were a couple of invoices that went wrong - and all of this was from data problems caused by the consultant loading config changes directly into the Production client.
We've locked the client against config changes now, but in reality, that won't stop it happening again. The consultants have the ability to unlock the client, and there's not a whole lot that I can do to prevent this. I have detailed what we need to do, which is to limit what access permissions they have, but whenever I make that point, the consultants start complaining about being "unable to do their work".
I will say that quite some time ago, I had the chance to speak to one of the consultants that we had on site for only a few days, and from what she said, it is clear that they generally don't get a lot of support or management when they are working on a customer site. She was quite new to the company, and to SAP, and it was clear that she felt a little out of her depth. She was being asked questions by people from our project team, and all she could do was refer it to one of her colleagues - she just didn't have the experience to handle many of the issues herself.
This is an item that has been raised before, and I know that a couple of the more experienced guys that are SAP Mentors that follow this blog, have also raised questions about the skill levels of many consultants. A given person may have a valid certification, but without at least some practical knowledge, that person might not be much more use than one of our own staff.
For me tho' the main issue seems to be that most of the people that have worked on our project don't seem to know much about basic good practice. I understand that time is money, and they want to get the job done as quickly as possible, but cutting corners is usually going to cause problems. Someone else made the comment that you can do it quick, do it cheap or do it right - but not all three, and we have seen that many times.
This is not made any better by not having any one checking to make sure that these people are following the right procedures. It seems that the SI wants to make that our job - OK, I can see why that is their preference, but at the beginning, we would have no idea what that good practice might be. We know more about it now, but in many ways, it's just too late. They have worked to fairly poor practices, and as a result, we also now have some fairly poor practice in place, and it's not easy to change that.
Well, we have a few new things being developed now - I won't be able to write about them for a little while, but I think that we have some interesting times ahead.