Your System – Not Guilty As Charged

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Case #2010-0301 – “Drive By Implementation”

Posted by Joel Schipper on March 2, 2010


In this first example of “Your System – Not Guilty as Charged”, we see a “drive-by” implementation from a consulting firm hired by an far-away and remote parent company that is handed over to the local information technology (“I.T.”) team when the consultants leave.

This I.T. team has had no involvement with the implementation or the enterprise software company, and was not part of any knowledge transfer about the software’s capabilities or how it’s supposed to be used.

There are no “power users” – end users who understand both their business operations and enough of the software system to know how it might be applied to new situations and changes in business processes once the consultants have left.  There were no trained business analysts.

Chaos ensues on a number of fronts when end users begin to change system functions and switch settings that affect logical business functions, order flows, reports, and other daily activities.

The result is an on-going series of unpredictable system events driving the users, IT, and management crazy.

Although everyone is blaming “the system,” I say to you – our readers – that this system is “not guilty as charged.”  I believe the fault lies elsewhere, and plan to explore those causes and offer approaches and solutions in future comments to this post.

What do you say?

Take a look at the presentation on the “Presentations” page to see more examples, what you can do, and radical viewpoints on how to “get it right.”

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8 Responses to “Case #2010-0301 – “Drive By Implementation””

  1. What an egregious example of short-term thinking leading to systems disaster. Thanks for your new blog, Joel, and sharing stories that inspire all of us to measure twice, cut once.

    • Pam,
      Great to hear from you. Please feel free to “disguise” examples from your vast storehouse of client experiences, and let us know about any particular “cases” where you think a system is “not guilty” and we can all work on pulling together workable, repeatable processes to prevent those situations from occuring again.
      Thanks again,
      Joel

  2. George Thompson said

    Joel – Having been on at least 3 sides of the fence during ERP implementations, I would agree that there is significant reality to your scenario. The S/I’s responsibility is to define implementation resources and skill sets both from the S/I’s side …and more importantly … from the client’s side. The S/I is also responsible for driving the need for focus, discipline and full involvement during the implementation; and client mamangement is responsible to provide the “Champion” capabilities necessary to enforce the S/I’s principles of implementation success. You have hit upon one of the major root-causes for ERP failure, which often leads to the blame going to the “compexity or inadaquacy” of the ERP solution.

    George

    • George,
      The “vote of confidence” is very much appreciated, and you are so right about the need for close coordination in goals and objectives, not just tactics, between the SI (systems integrator) and the client’s management team. There’s a lot more to be said about this! I’ll look forward to hearing some of your career experiences…
      Joel

  3. I have known Joel for nearly 30 years. If anyone can get people to THINK about their system “issues” Joel can and will. I, for one, am looking forward to participating on this blog.

    R. Michael Donovan

  4. Thank you to everyone who has commented already – your thoughts were incorporated into the March 3 keynote address to the JD Edwards user group in Long Beach. A PDF of that PowerPoint is now on the “Presentations Page” of this blog.

    • Hi everyone,

      The keynote address to the JD Edwards Southern California user group was very well received. The presentation (see our Presentations Page) struck a lot of chords, got a lot of head nodding, and people came up to me afterwards to let me know how well it had hit home. Several customers facing upgrade situations said they would visit the blog and get the presentation to guide their company’s work.

      I made an immediate enhancement to the presentation – on “other things you can do” around the customer support features of an enterprise software company, and re-posted the revised presentation to our blog here.

      I’m looking forward to the next presentation date, at Collaborate10 (the multi-brand Oracle user group meeting) in Las Vegas in April.

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