Friday, 16 March 2012

Moral musing

Earlier in the week, Greg Smith of Goldman Sachs quit his job. This was a high profile position, and he had a lot of experience, a great deal of authority and was earning a considerable sum of money - yet he felt that he could not continue working there. He arranged for a letter outlining his reasons for quitting to be published - if you want to read it, there is a copy at this link.

I know exactly what Greg was writing about; some years ago, I worked for a company that was doing some things that were morally wrong, and once I realised the situation, I couldn't get out quick enough. But it's always going to be a difficult decision, and I think that he has shown some considerable moral fiber and courage in doing it so publicly.

I have to say that I understand his views and that he is probably doing the honorable thing. I doubt that he will suffer too much - no doubt, he has saved enough to be able to stay off welfare and he may even find that there are other organizations that will be prepared to offer him something as his knowledge will be highly valuable. But it got me thinking about my reasons for doing this blog, so I thought that I would go through them again.

First of all, I will say that when I started writing, it was quite simply to vent my frustration at what I saw was a project that was in serious trouble. Having been a project manager in my past, I was not happy at the lack of communication between the SI and the project team. I could see that work was not getting done on time, project milestones were being missed or ignored, and I had serious doubts about the abilities of the various consultants that were working on the project. Even at that stage with limited knowledge of SAP, I could see that the quality of work being completed was poor at best, and the knowledge transfer was almost non-existant.

However, I am more of a positive person by nature (honest!) and after the first few posts, I wanted to try and make the blog more of an objective analysis of what was happening. I felt that if I could highlight some of the key issues, then others might see these and perhaps this would help them to avoid similar issues in their own projects.

I've kept the blog anonymous - quite simply, if I identified myself, the company that I work for or the SI, I'm pretty sure that before midday of the next working day, I would no longer be working in my current position. I might also find it difficult to get a new job - with the current climate and an ex-employer that won't provide a reference, it would be a bad situation. Although I do have some money put aside, it's no where near as much as Greg Smith - I simply cannot afford the grand gesture.

I will also say that I accept some of my writing is about my opinions - other may look at the same situation and say that things are not as bad as I make out. While I may think that some of the consultants working on the project are not doing their jobs well, that is just my view, and as I can't give them the right of reply, it would be unreasonable to identify them too closely.

I do try to provide an objective view, but in order to keep my anonymity, I have done things such as change dates and sequences of events so that it would be harder to positively identify myself or my company. I don't believe that any of the changes I have made would make a huge difference, but I feel that it is right to make that point clear.

We have an SAP system that is working and thanks to the hard work of the various members of our project team, it is doing a lot of what we wanted. There are still areas that are not entirely satisfactory, and we are working on those - as far as we can, we are trying to build up our internal skills so that we can rely on our own people. If we mess it up, then it will be no-one's fault but ours, and if the consultants want to come back and laugh at our attempts, they are welcome to do so.

There is a possibility that I may come across as arrogant - I take pride in my work, I like to think that I am damn good at my job, and I can point to the fact that the IT in the company is light years ahead of what it was when I first joined them. I've had a number of people visit from outside, and they are generally very impressed with what we have achieved - we are way ahead of the curve for a business of our size. But I don't believe that I have the answer to every single problem, and I am willing to listen to ideas or advice from anyone.

Hopefully, this blog will be a useful resource for some people - if just one person finds something in my writing that helps their project in some way, I feel that it will have been worth it all.


  1. Your blog has definitely been an eye-opener for me.

    Looking forward to more information from you in the coming future as well :)

  2. Keep up the posts! I have been publicly and openly calling for an end to the widespread, blatant, and ridiculous fraud by "con"sultants in the SAP space. I'm sure it is throughout the whole IT space but since I work in SAP that is where I focus.

    I have periodically referenced your posts as a warning to SAP customers. It is too bad your company weren't a little more courageous and decided to sue the SI. In fact I wish that happened more often and I am *NOT* a fan of lawyers or the legal system. Unfortunately the fraud has become so rampant, and so completely out of control it is obscene.

    Keep up the great work! As I said I have periodically referenced your site as a warning to customers. The biggest problem of all is that REAL experience (rather than the fakes) costs a little more but not that much more! The results however are radically different...

    A little while ago I did a post on how companies can protest themselves from this consulting FRAUD... And referenced your site:

    Protecting Yourself from SAP Consulting Fraud

  3. I too have been through rough times due to SAP, the organisation where I earlier worked, had implemented SAP. However, the business blueprint was a total mess, whereas, the company produced discreet products the implementation was done for a FMCG manufacturing scenario.
    The company was faced with financial issues and every customer was dissatisfied.
    Fortunately, I could come up with a quick fix OLAP solution a utility in Microsoft BI providing vital information to control SAP.
    I look forward to sharing my experience to help bridge the gap between desired & available information.