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Articles by James A Robertson and Associates

TxM 029 Section 3.2 Introducing Dr James Robertson, PrEng - The ERP Doctor
Created by James on 7/1/2013 2:31:32 PM

Why should you engage with Dr James Robertson to advise you with regard to your IT and ERP issues?

Deep understanding of why IT and ERP investments do not deliver what was promised and how to rectify this problem

In 1989 James Robertson set out to "bring the disciplines of engineering" (high reliability, high value outcomes) "to the IT and ERP industry".  He soon discovered that 70% of IT investments fail outright and only 10% meet or exceed expectations.  By 1991 he was speaking regularly at public conferences on these findings and outlining methods to solve the problem.

As a consequence he has been engaged by numerous clients to evaluate failed and sub-optimal IT and ERP installations, turning most around but in a very few cases, advising clients to terminate the investment.

In 2003 he catalogued his findings and wrote the book "The Critical Factors for Information Technology Investment Success".  That same year the Financial Mail reported that "19 out of 20 ERP implementations do NOT deliver what was promised".  Gartner subsequently reported that "most organizations are NOT making better decisions than five years ago".

Since 2004 James has presented regular courses, advised numerous clients and continued to refine his techniques.  This has brought us to a point where today Dr Robertson is a significant thought leader with regard to effective application of ERP in South Africa and possibly worldwide.

An executive level advisor for over thirty years – discusses IT and ERP in language executives understand

James first consulted to senior executives in Europe in 1982, he has been comfortable in the executive suite ever since.

As a consequence he knows what is important to executives and is able to speak their language.

James is an executive advisor first and an IT and ERP specialist second.

Over thirty years' experience in economics and decision support – understands the REAL issues required for your business to prosper

James "cut his teeth" in economics and decision support in 1982 and has a thorough grounding in the essential principles of economics.  From this grounding he has developed a thorough grasp of the sort of information that executives need to make high value business decisions.

His first commercial IT project enabled the firm to double their turnover by taking on new international clients.  This dramatic growth was as a consequence of capability conceptualized and implemented by James that enabled the firm to do things that much larger firms were unable to do.

A strategist with deep grounding in strategic thinking and methods – quickly grasps the essence of your business and how it thrives and how to use IT and ERP to support strategic functioning

James demonstrates an intuitive grasp of strategy and has been speaking about the importance of the strategic alignment of IT and ERP since 1990.  He has pioneered the StratSnap critical issues thinking method and toolset and facilitated many strategic sessions for clients.  The method systematically and rigorously leads clients through a step by step process to develop robust critical issues based strategic plans, requirement definitions, etc which focus on the essence of the business and how it thrives.

James regards strategic alignment as an integral and non-negotiable element of any IT or ERP investment and seeks to understand the essential drivers of the client business from his first engagement interview with new clients.

An engineering approach to IT and ERP – Engineers design bridges NOT to fall down

In seeking to "bring the disciplines of engineering to the IT industry" James has clearly identified that the design, deployment and operation of IT and ERP systems is fundamentally an engineering endeavour – a rigorous, precise and systematic method of working fundamentally attuned with creating new systems that fully meet client executive requirements.

At the same time, James has recognized that traditional engineering training fails to provide grounding in the soft issues like facilitation of change, strategy, corporate governance, communication, etc and he has integrated all of these disciplines into the approach that he advocates and the methods that he uses.

During this journey one of the fundamental observations that he has made is that:

"Engineers do NOT design bridges to stand up . . .

. . . Engineers design bridges NOT to fall down"


This understanding supports James' fundamental approach to "design for success by engineering against failure", an approach that underpins all the work that he does.

James maintains that it is not possible to produce a successful IT or ERP outcome without being blunt about the issues that are causing failure and systematically eliminating those factors from the project or operational environment.

Rapid and effective diagnosis of IT and ERP ills – the "Pulse Measurement" – what is wrong and how to fix it in 1 to 10 days – frequently saves clients millions

Since 1989 and the outset of his Professional Consulting Business Systems Engineering practice, James A Robertson and Associates, James has specialized in short sharp diagnostic interventions.  These concentrate on the critical issues required to deliver the required business outcome in the shortest possible time.

This critical issues approach led to the creation of his flagship offering, the IT and ERP "Pulse Measurement" – a one to ten day intervention in which he systematically investigates the health of the designated IT or ERP system, department or other operational or project area that is giving cause for concern to executives.

These interventions always commence with interviews with the Chief Executive and other executives.

A key goal in these interviews is to understand the strategic essence of the business and the "burning issues" of concern to the executive team.

Informed by this high level understanding of the issues facing client executives, James then interviews mid-level managers responsible for the operation of the systems in question.  This is followed by sessions with the operational staff and service providers culminating in a hands-on look at the systems and sometimes an end to end "walkthrough" of the system in order to understand the exact technical elements that are contributing to the problem.

The deliverable from the Pulse Measurement is a concise report listing approximately seven Critical Findings which are prioritized and weighted in terms of their relative importance in giving rise to the problem in question.  These are followed by approximately seven Critical Recommended Actions, also prioritized and weighted, this time in terms of their importance in rectifying the problem.  The findings and recommended actions are presented in simple language that is entirely understandable to executives.

James is able to deliver this high value outcome in such a short period of time by operating in much the same way that a Medical Practitioner is able to rapidly diagnose a medical condition and prescribe treatment.

He does this by holding up key observations against a body of thirty years' experience of what works and what doesn't and so a simple phrase like "I cannot get the information I am looking for from my ERP system" (a frequent complaint) instantly enables James to access a body of knowledge based on thousands of hours of practical experience as to what causes such a problem and how it can be fixed.  Further investigation is geared to confirming the initial diagnosis and homing in on the specific issues.

Recommendations can be as simple as a change in policy or as drastic as a recommendation to abort a project or system and return to the previous systems.  Recommendations frequently address issues of governance, executive custody, staffing, strategic alignment, communication and diverse other issues.  The exact mix is unique to every organization but the range of diagnoses and treatments prescribed are frequently variations on themes encountered many times before.

Pulse Measurements frequently lead to significant changes in direction and sometimes save clients millions of Rands.

In all cases, the executives of the client organization have a much clearer view of the way forward and what the REAL ISSUES are once the Pulse Measurement is complete.

Clients regularly engage James to advise at some level with regard to the implementation of his recommendations.

Specializes in the practical high value application of IT and ERP in business – how to unlock the true potential of your ERP investment

James says "I get my adrenalin rush out of solving problems no one else can solve, I like achieving practical outcomes that work and I hate failure".

Based on this ethos, James has invested huge amounts of unremunerated time to understand the real issues in IT and how to achieve successful outcomes and how to achieve the true potential of ERP investments.

The techniques that James has pioneered are so innovative that it has recently become apparent that the standard of implementation of ERP that James regards as essential are such that dramatically better business outcomes are achievable for similar capital investment and lower operating cost than traditional approaches as illustrated in the figure below.

The right hand bar represents the standard of excellence that Executives think they bought (and that James champions) whereas the left hand bar represents the standard that is commonly delivered.


Strategic Engineered Precision Taxonomies (SEPT)

Over forty years ago James had his first encounter with taxonomies in a zoological context with taxonomy projects at school.

Subsequently he researched cataloguing principles and standards for classifying the test specimens for his award winning PhD research and was later exposed to the NATO document classification scheme.

When he first started working with ERP and other IT projects James automatically started applying taxonomies and rapidly achieved some major successes.

At first he thought that what he knew was common place and therefore he did not place much emphasis on it but has now come to realize that the standards that he developed in 1990 and has applied with great success on a number of projects constitute a standard that he has come to refer to as Strategic Engineered Precision Taxonomies which enables users of ERP's and Data Warehouse / Business Intelligence systems to raise the bar dramatically, as indicated by the diagram above.

In the process James has designed software to assist with taxonomies and there is a major development project in process at the time of writing.

If you have not yet spoken to James about Precision Taxonomies please give this serious consideration.



If you are frustrated that you cannot get the answers you need when you need them, feel that your IT staff live on a different planet and do not understand your needs, are not sure whether to replace your ERP or data warehouse, are being told you have bought the wrong ERP or Business Intelligence tools or are in any other way dissatisfied with your current IT or ERP dispensation James Robertson may well be the person to help you.

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Random Selection of Articles by Dr James Robertson

SNw 041 Strategic Essence: The Missing Link: Part 2 -- Differentiation

A fundamental component of strategy and strategy determination is differentiation, understanding how the organization differentiates itself in the market place and enhancing and strengthening those attributes is a fundamental component of creating high value business information solutions
SNw 040 Strategic Essence: The Missing Link: Part 1 -- Strategy Defined

"Strategy" is a widely used, widely abused and little understood term.   This article offers a robust definition of strategy as the "essence of the organization and how it thrives"
Cnf Shw Showcase of Conference Presentations

The following presentations  best represent my conference speaking experience and technique each presentation is tailored to the subject matter of the conference, all follow the same broad theme of the importance of strategy, the factors that cause failure and the critical factors for success, most relate to the Business Information Systems / ERP / IT field although some branch out into related topics drawing relevant parallels as a former member of the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa and former Toastmaster presentation technique, animation, etc are reasonably well developed and refined -- I specialize in talks that at some level challenge the status quo and raise the bar in the subject under discussion
Cnf 092 Doing things differently and better -- ASCO Case Study 2

Case Study of the strategic benefits derived by African Sales Company from a successful ERP implementation that made use of Precision Configuration techniques to create a highly structured brand orientated Product Class master coupled to several pieces of custom developed software tailored to give the client capabilities that none of their competitors had, this supported significant competitively based strategic growth as well as operational efficiencies
Cnf 080 Why your ERP is not delivering and how to fix it

One hour conference presentation regarding the major factors that give rise to ERP investment failure and how to achieve success.

Defines some fundamental principles that are of vital importance to any organization that is implementing or operating any Business Information System

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Dr James A Robertson PrEng The ERP Doctor

Business Systems NOT delivering?

Call the Business Systems Specialist

Dr. James Robinson

Dr James A Robertson -- has been involved in the effective application of Business Information Systems, including but NOT limited to ERP, since 1987 and in the profitable and effective use of computers in Business since 1981.

Drawing on a diversity of experience, including formal military training in Quick Attack techniques at the Regimental Commander level, Dr Robertson has developed highly effective methods of investigating any sub-optimal Business Information Systems situation -- be it an established system or a stalled project or any other source of Executive frustration -- quickly and concisely diagnosing the root cause of the problem and prescribing concise practical actions that Business Executives can effectively act on see the Pulse Measurement page and also the Sample Reports page for redacted real reports.

He has also developed highly effective methods of strategically enriching systems to unlock the full potential of existing investments, see the Precision Configuration page and couples this to architecting small pieces of clever software that harness the full potential of your investment, see the Software page.

If you are having problems with your systems, your project or your IT Department, call The Business Systems Specialist

Business System Failure is RIFE -- we offer insight into why this happens AND WHAT is required to prevent it.

Failure is at epidemic levels with massive damage done to client companies -- if you are NOT aware of the extent of the problem please visit the About Failure page for a catalog of major failures running to billions of Pounds and Dollars.

All evidence indicates that the established players do NOT know how to deliver stable, reliable high value solutions that WORK.

There HAS to be a better way!

This website provides information relating to that way with a large collection of white papers, presentations, standards documents, etc that you can use to start bringing the situation under control

We also offer high level advisory services with regard to the application of the principles advocated on this website

We offer an ENGINEERING APPROACH to addressing these issues

Click here to read more about the Engineering Approach

By Engineering I mean the formal, structured, highly disciplined, highly systematic, highly practical approach that consistently delivers results in ALL areas of human endeavor where formally trained and certified engineers are the ONLY practitioners permitted to operate -- think large buildings, factories, motor vehicles, aircraft -- highly complex systems that work at a level that we take it for granted that they WILL work and where failure is all but unthinkable and, when it happens, attracts immediate public attention and rigorous investigation directed at ensuring that such failures are prevented in the future -- in fact, everything that the management consulting industry that implements complex software systems is NOT

This approach is discussed further on the Engineering Approach page.

Book -- The Critical Factors for Information Technology Investment Success

In 2003 I undertook an in-depth analysis of all the information and experience that I had gathered with regard to the factors giving rise to Business Information System failure including ERP and general IT and classified this information into a number of categories including "The Factors Causing Failure" and "The Critical Factors for Success" based on this I developed a two day Course "The Critical Factors for Information Technology Investment Success" which is still offered today.

Based on this I wrote the book of the same name, which is available in electronic form here for download:

Connect with James Robertson on LinkedIn

James has a very detailed profile on LinkedIn should you require further information about him.

You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/DrJamesARobertsonERPDoctor

James has an open networking profile -- click on "Connect" and use email address James@LinkedIn-at-JARA.com.

Contact Us

You can contact us on

Email: James@James-A-Robertson-and-Associates.com

LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/drjamesarobertsonerpdoctor

Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/james.a.robertson.393

Mobile: +44 (0) 776-862-2875

Landline: +44 (0) 207-059-0007

Fax: +44 (0) 844 774 4580

Articles by James A Robertson and Associates

There is a large body of white papers, articles and other content produced by Dr James Robertson available on this website

Please click here to visit the detailed listing of articles

Random Selection of Articles by Dr James Robertson

ArticleTagCloud for Articles Published by James A Robertson and Associates

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Table of Contents


About Dr James A Robertson PrEng -- The Business Systems Doctor -- and Other Topics

Catalogue of Major Business Information System Failures

About the Engineering Approach

James Robertson's Value Add

Attributes of a HIGH VALUE solution

Recognizing Business System Failure

The Critical Human Foundation

Old Software IS Viable

From South Africa

Competencies of Dr James A Robertson PrEng

About Professor Malcolm McDonald

Table of Contents

About my relationship with the Almighty Creator, Yah the Eternally Self-Existing

Comments relating to the Business Systems Industry and other topics

Testimonials and other positive material regarding James Robertson

Reference Articles

List of Articles

Article Catalogue

Achieving High Value Business Information System outcomes

Executive Custody -- What is it and HOW do you get it?

The REAL Issues in Integrated Business Information System Success

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2 -- Mythology and Lack of Executive Custody

Part 3 – Strategic Alignment and Precision Configuration

Why your ERP is NOT delivering and HOW to FIX it

IT Project Management

Pulse Measurement

CEO Anthony Lee Comments on his experience of the Pulse Measurement

No Charge Guarantee on the Pulse Measurement Service

Examples of Pulse Measurement Outcomes

Critical questions regarding the Pulse Measurement™

The Pulse Measurement Workflow

The Critical Factors for Business System (ERP+) Investment Success in the Pulse Measurement

Indicative Pulse Measurement Durations

What is a JAR&A Pulse Measurement?

Survival of the fittest – why it makes sense to measure the pulse of your business

Examples of Pulse Measurement Outcomes over 24 years

Sample Pulse Measurement Reports


Strategic Essence: The Missing Link in Business Information Systems

Strategic Essence: Overview

Strategic Essence: Part 1 -- Strategy Defined

Strategic Essence: Part 2 -- Differentiation

Strategic Essence: Part 3 -- The Essence IS Different

Strategic Essence: Part 4 -- The Essence should be the Point of Departure

Strategic Essence: Part 5 -- Discovering Strategic Essence

Strategy -- the Essence of the Business: What is it and how do you develop actionable strategic plans?

Simple Steps to Increase the Strategic Value of your ERP Investment

Free Strategic Snapshot Toolset and Manual

A strategy focused planning system beyond traditional budgeting

Tough IT and ERP Procurement and Contracting that Works

Robust Business Systems Procurement

Part 1 -- Introduction

Part 2 -- Bill of Services, Laboratory, Go-live Certificate, etc

Part 3 -- Executive Engagement, Bid Compliance, Adjudication and other matters

Procurement Documents

Guidance and Advisory Services

The Art of Project Leadership

Why Regular Communication with the CEO is Vital

The Business Simulation Laboratory

Precision Configuration and Strategic Business Information Architecture

Precision Configuration based on Strategic Engineered Precision Taxonomies

The JAR&A Cubic Business Model

Highly Structured Strategic Chart of Accounts -- a Vital Element of your Corporate Information Arsenal

The Product Catalogue -- an Essential Element of any Precision Configuration

Attributes -- answers to the questions you have NOT yet thought to ask

Case Studies of Notably Successful Projects with high value Precision Configuration

092 Doing things differently and better -- ASCO Case Study 2-- BPM Summit 2013

088 Strategic ERP Invesment -- ASCO Case Study -- Service Management Conference and Exhibition Africa

026 Information Architecture and Design of FIS for Rennies Group -- Financial Information Systems Conf

018 CRM Risk Control: Designing and Implementing an Integrated Risk Mgmt Sys -- Integrated Risk Mgmt Conf

011 V3 Consulting Eng: Benefits of MIS to Professional Practice -- SAICE 15th Ann Conf on Computers in Civil Eng

Strategically Enriching your Business Information Systems

Part 1 -- Introduction

Part 2 -- Principles of Data Engineering

Part 3 -- Steps in applying these recommendations

Simple Steps to increase the strategic information value yield from your Business Systems Investment

The Full JAR&A Taxonomy Manual

Part 1: Introduction, Problem Statement, Definitions and Examples

Part 2: Why Use JAR&A, Required Knowledge and Experience, Cubic Business Model and Chart of Accounts and Taxonomy Software

Part 3: How to do it, Case Studies and White Papers and other References

Example General Ledger Manual

Business Process -- Irrelevant, Distracting and Dangerous

The RIGHT Approach

Custom Strategic Software Design and Oversight of Construction

Standards for Custom Software Specification

What IS Software?

IT Effectiveness

Organizing Outlook

Critical Factors for I.T. Success

A Moral and Ethical Dilemma -- Systems that Fail

Case Studies examining Business Information System failures

The BBC Digital Media Initiative Debacle

The Bridgestone -- IBM Conflict

Speaking and Training

Showcase of Conference Presentations

Most Viewed Presentations

Briefings and Seminars

Why your ERP/BIS is NOT delivering and HOW to FIX it

ERP and IT Procurement that Delivers Results

The Critical Factors for IT and ERP Investment Success

Other Seminars

Conferences and Public Presentations

Conferences 80 to 99 -- 2009 to Present

Conferences 60 to 79 -- 2005 to 2009

Conferences 40 to 59 -- 1996 to 2005

Conferences 20 to 39 -- 1994 to 1996

Conferences 01 to 19 -- 1989 to 1994

On-Line Seminars (Webinars)

Webinar on Preparing and Presenting Webinars

Contacting James A Robertson and Associates Limited