Is ineffective ERP getting you down?


Dr Robertson is a recognised voice within the application of IT and ERP. He has been in the industry for twenty two years and has had numerous works published, including titles such as The Critical Factors for IT Investment Success.

According to Dr Robertson there is no shortage of statements and concerns being aired by senior management of businesses. He frequently engages CEOs and other senior representatives to solicit their response during his Pulse Measurement investigations.

Pulse Measurement is the name Dr Robertson has given the company?s flagship offering - a short but high impact diagnostic that identifies what is wrong with an ERP or other implementation and what is required to fix it.

"Complaints about the investment in ERP and related resources vary, but there are common themes. Everything from not understanding ERP in general to doubting the efficiency of technology as well as not receiving adequate answers to key questions. This is where the Pulse Measurement makes a key difference,' says Dr Robertson.

A Pulse Measurement ranges typically from a day to a week in duration depending on the size of corporation, complexity of the problem and level of detail required for the diagnosis.

It delivers by close of business on the last day of the investigation a written report listing no more than nine critical findings on a weighted and prioritized basis and no more than nine critical recommended actions also weighted and prioritized. The report is designed to enable management to act immediately.

"In conducting the investigation I start with one hour one on one interviews with the Chief Executive and other C level Exec's, then managers responsible for the operation of the system and finally operators of the system and technologists,' Dr Robertson continues.

Over time the information gleaned during these investigations has been correlated and assimilated to develop a catalogue of factors that cause problems and those factors that are required for success.

According to Dr Robertson the factors causing sub-optimal ERP performance (relative importance on average in causing failures and sub-optimal performance) are:

? Mythology - "computers are magic", "we can do anything we can think of", etc - 30%
? Lack of executive custody and poor governance - 19%
? Lack of strategic definition and alignment - the essence of the business - 16%
? Lack of precision taxonomies and configuration - 14%
? Lack of change facilitation, poor training, etc - 12%
? Lack of precision, lack of discipline - 6%
? Technology issues - 3%

"In a matter of a few hours, asking some key diagnostic questions, listening carefully, engaging with the people interviewed, gaining strategic insight into the business and the problem I am able to hold up a list of key words and key phrases against the above catalogue. As a result I am able to accurately diagnose the cause or causes (usually more than one) of the problem and with a few more hours of engagement at the operational level, I can accurately diagnose the measures required to remediate the problem,' says Dr Robertson.

"Sometimes the diagnosis is simple, the simplest ever was identifying a clerk who was "correcting" what she perceived to be errors in allocation by an executive with the result that the numbers in the system bore no relation to the numbers he was authorizing and he blamed the system - saving? - conservatively in today's terms R15 million - the client had asked me to help them figure out how to quickly replace the system with more "reliable software?,' he continues.

There are occasions when the diagnosis is terminal and the action has to be immediate to stem fallout.

According to Dr Robertson in most cases, once a diagnosis is presented, managers inevitably realize that they actually know more about ERP than they previously envisaged.

"Once I have shown them how clumsily and inaccurately their system has been implemented they suddenly discover they DO understand a lot more than they thought they did and often the problem is that the implementers did not understand their business and have therefore configured the software in highly inappropriate ways,' says Dr. Robertson.

According to Dr Robertson a simple rule of thumb - if the way an ERP is being operated does not make sense, do NOT agree to further investment until one finds someone who CAN cause it to make sense or can explain what is wrong and how to fix it.

"Do NOT allow your fear of being thought ignorant prevent you from taking a stand to be allowed to know what is going on with your investment,' he adds.