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Pulse Measurement

The Pulse Measurement is a short duration, intense, high impact diagnostic investigation which in one to ten days will give you an accurate high level diagnosis of the health of your systems, problems requiring attention and actions required to rectify the problems in business terms and language that business people understand

<<< PREVIOUS SECTION:  Achieving High Value Business Information System outcomes

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Pulse Measurements regularly save clients millions and greatly enhance the effectiveness of ERP and other systems

If you have the slightest unease about your current systems you will find a Pulse Measurement well worthwhile


If you are significantly dissatisfied with your systems and particularly if you are experiencing BUSINESS TRAUMA, a Pulse Measurement is a MUST HAVE item -- in as little as one day you can gain fresh insights into your systems and what is needed to turn adverse situations around

A Pulse Measurement is also relevant as a HEALTH CHECK on your project or IT Department or system should you simply want an independent Professional Opinion as to how you can improve the effectiveness of your system or Department

AND we offer a NO CHARGE guarantee if you are NOT satisfied with the intervention one third of the way into the agreed schedule subject to the required executive participation


Click here to email us now to discuss your requirements and obtain a proposal without obligation


CEO Anthony Lee Comments on his experience of the Pulse Measurement

Mr Anthony Lee, Managing Director and Shareholder of Transport Holdings discusses his experience of the Pulse Measurement Services provided to him by Dr James Robertson.



"...  after 18 months we still did not have a solution ... they kept blaming us ... after engaging Dr James within 48 hours we had got our head around what the issues were ... totally inappropriate solution ... we knew what the way forward ... for the first time in 18 months there was clarity of vision regarding what had to be done"


Similar benefits are available to your organization



Click here to email us now to discuss your requirements and obtain a proposal without obligation


No Charge Guarantee

We are so confident that you will derive exceptional value from this intervention that we offer a guarantee such that if at the end of the first day of the investigation you are NOT confident that you are obtaining value for money you will have the right to terminate the investigation and ONLY pay travel, accommodation and subsistence outside of London

For one day investigations you can make this call at the end of the day, in other words, if  you commission a one day Pulse Measurement and at the end of that day you are not satisfied you will not have to pay for the consultation


We are confident that you will NOT need to do this


Click here to email us now to discuss your requirements and obtain a proposal without obligation


Examples of Pulse Measurement Outcomes

- turning around a decision of a client executive team to scrap a system based on a one day investigation,

- turning around a failing four hundred million pound project in two days,

- identifying a fundamental defect in an implementation that was in the process of putting a client organization out of business and equipping the chief executive to take a new direction and roll back to the previous system in five weeks thus saving the business -- "the best decision we ever took" -- director of the company six months after Dr Robertson's recommendation was acted upon

There have been many other cases of ERP projects and IT departments turned around, major expenditure averted and major benefits delivered

It is not uncommon for a Pulse Measurement to save a client millions and sometimes even tens of millions of Pounds or open the door to greatly increased benefits -- or both

"The lights have just gone on" -- exclamation by Executive Director of a client organization at the end of the second day of a Pulse Measurement when Dr Robertson provided a summing up of the investigation to that point and diagnosed the root cause of a project that was nine months behind schedule.



Can you afford NOT to commission a Pulse Measurement?


Click here to email us now to discuss your requirements and obtain a proposal without obligation

Critical questions regarding the Pulse Measurementâ„¢

I make some quite strong claims for the Pulse Measurement™, this document seeks to answer some questions that potential customers might have:

1. A reliable diagnosis in such a short time!?
How can you claim to deliver a reliable diagnosis in such a short space of time? – We have been battling with this problem for months / years?

Answer: The simple answer is that I have been doing diagnostic Pulse Measurements™ since 1990 and I have done this a very large number of times.  So, in the same way as when you consult a Medical Doctor I listen for key words that point to the diagnosis and I have such diverse experience of these matters that this points me to the treatment most of the time

2. But this is REALLY complex!
I still don’t get it, this is MUCH more complex than the average medical condition – it involves all sorts of systems and people!

Answer: The methods I use are based on my engineering training and experience which includes a wide repertoire of problem solving and diagnostic techniques which I use instinctively to lead me to an accurate diagnosis and recommended treatment in a short space of time

3. But so quickly?
But engineers are systematic and methodical and painstaking – how can you produce a reliably result so quickly?!

Answer: Well, YES, there IS another dimension

I was a Regimental Commander with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in our Citizen Force Army (National Guard) and I received in-depth training in methods of Tactical Appreciation (Combat Analysis) at Brigade level (5,000 men of all disciplines) in the context of high speed mobile warfare

This taught me rapid critical issue analysis techniques which enable me to sift through large amounts of information and zoom in on the essence of the situation that point to action very quickly

4. But you know little about our industry and nothing about our business?

Answer: That is true but if you read my book, “The Critical Factors for Information Technology Investment Success” or attend one of my briefings or courses you will find that nearly all the factors that give rise to failure of ERP and IT projects relate to psychology, method, strategy, governance, etc which are largely the same no matter what industry, business or technology I am investigating.

I have also evaluated an extremely diverse range of businesses over the years so I am able to easily and rapidly interpolate and extrapolate from these other experiences.  My line of inquiry also enables me to understand the essence of your business very quickly and very accurately

5. And you know nothing about our system?

Answer: In some cases that may be true but I have experience of a very diverse range of systems so, to the extent that I may not have had exposure to your particular system or combination of systems, I am able to rapidly interpolate and extrapolate from my very diverse systems experience

I also have a very solid fundamental first principles understanding of how computer software and hardware work and this enables me to quickly understand the fundamentals of any particular technology.  I have been using computers since 1973

6. How will we know your findings and recommendations are reliable and actionable?

Answer: Most of the time my findings are very much practical common sense such that often I simply authoritatively confirm your gut feel and explain it in simple to understand terms such that you will KNOW that I am correct – frequently my findings are just blinding glimpses of the obvious

Knowing what to DO with the finding is of course a separate issue

7. What if we need guidance in implementing your recommendations?

Answer: I provide comprehensive high level advisory services to guide you through the implementation of my recommendations at whatever level of involvement you require and I have a portfolio of specialist associates whom I can call on where specialist expertise is required

Where required I am available to take over the leadership of a project on in order to achieve the required outcome

I hope my answers to these questions have helped you to better understand how the Pulse Measurement™ works


The Pulse Measurement REALLY IS that effective and THAT TIME AND COST EFFICIENT


Click here to email us now to discuss your requirements and obtain a proposal without obligation

The Pulse Measurement Workflow

1) One on one interviews with your executive team starting with your CEO to obtain a clear executive problem statement and understand your business

2) Brief walk-through of the business facilitated by a Business Executive in order to gain insight into the fundamentals of the business

3) One on one interviews with key business users of your systems at various levels as appropriate to the focus of the investigation

4) Interviews with system operational staff and service providers coupled with review of critical systems as appropriate to the focus of the investigation

5) A structured analysis resulting in a concise structured report based on the factors discussed in Dr Robertson's book "The Critical Factors for Information Technology Investment Success".  This analysis identifies and prioritizes the "Critical Findings" and recommends prioritized "Critical Actions" arising from the investigation

6) Optionally the report may be followed with a formal presentation or briefing to your executive team and possibly other audiences supported by a diversity of standard slides developed over decades

7) Optionally Dr Robertson offers a critical issues workshop process to formulate specific response to the findings, such as definition of critical business requirements for a system (new or existing) or development of a critical action plan

8) Optionally Dr Robertson offers advisory services with regard to implementation of his recommendations

9) Dr Robertson can also be engaged to run a project turnaround

The Pulse Measurement will give a concise assessment of the health of your ERP or other organizational problem area through a limited scope, limited cost professional intervention that will give you greatly improved understanding of the problem in question and how to resolve it

The findings are presented in a practical, no nonsense, manner that cuts to the chase in terms of the action required

The pulse measurement is tailored to your exact requirements and will typically require from one to ten days of Dr Robertson's time giving a cost effective, high value, high impact diagnostic intervention

Over the years Dr Robertson has conducted dozens of Pulse Measurements for organizations of all types and sizes with regard to the full diversity of business systems, ERP's, etc

Isn't it time to take the Pulse of YOUR SYSTEM today?

Click here to email us now to discuss your requirements and obtain a proposal without obligation

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

When clients are considering undertaking a Pulse Measurement I am frequently asked questions like “how much experience do you have with regard to xxx” (xxx = name of ERP or specialized module) or “how much experience do you have with the yyy industry” (yyy = name of industry)

When a client is experiencing problems with their business systems the technically correct answer to both questions is “that is the WRONG question because the brand of software and the industry generally have little or nothing to do with the diagnosis of the problem because the factors causing the failure or sub-optimal outcomes and the Factors for Success relate to business system implementation principles and people and NOT software or industry

The actual factors that cause failure and the factors for success, which were summarized by me in 2003, and formed the basis of my book, are presented below with refinements based on what I have learned since publishing the book

The longer answers to the two questions above are:

  • With regard to software – “I have had exposure to an extremely wide diversity of software over the years and have found that my approach and knowledge are equally applicable across the entire spectrum of systems – in my earlier years I designed and wrote software and subsequently specified and managed the writing of software so I have an extremely broad understanding of software and its capabilities

  • With regard to industry -- “I have had exposure to an extremely wide diversity of industries over the years in both the Private Sector and Government and have found that my approach and knowledge are equally applicable across the entire spectrum of industries

The Origin of “The Factors”

 Based on my experience of investigating failed and sub-optimal Business Information System projects since 1990 I analyzed my findings in 2003 and derived a set of “Factors for Information Technology Investment Failure” and “The Critical Factors for Information Technology Investment Success”.  Based on this analysis I developed a two day course which I still run today.  Based on this course I wrote a book called “The Critical Factors for Information Technology Investment Success” which is available on request

Since then I have taught these principles on a regular basis in numerous courses and conference presentations and applied them in my ongoing consulting work with the consequence that I have robustly confirmed the universality of the principles and greatly extended my understanding of how they work and how to correct the negative impacts of the factors causing failure and how to effectively manage and apply the factors for success.  In the process I have progressively refined the definition and rating of the factors and gained very substantial knowledge and experience in diagnosing them, treating the conditions they identify and applying them in managing projects to achieve high value business outcomes


The Factors Causing Business System Implementation Failure

The factors that cause failure – defined in the context of the dictum “engineers do NOT design bridges to stand up, they design them NOT to fall down” – see the home page – in other words the factors that need to be identified and engineered out of the solution are as follows:

1.Mythology, hype and tradition

2.Inappropriate or ineffective Executive Custody, governance and corporate policy

3.Lack of effective Strategic Alignment and Strategic Solution Architecture

4.Lack of Precision Configuration

5.Failure to address soft issues, business engagement and change impacts

6.Lack of an Engineering Approach
    (By Engineering Approach I mean a highly structured, meticulous,           systematic, rigorous, modeled on the formal disciplines of Engineering)

7.Technology Issues – sub-optimal or defective software, hardware, network, etc

The average contribution of these factors to failed and sub-optimal outcomes in my experience are shown graphically as follows:


These factors are NOT necessarily all present in a failed or sub-optimal installation but, in my experience, at least one of them is always present – the factors have been proven to be universal and comprehensive

It will be apparent from the above statistics that technology is very seldom the cause of the problem and, for that reason, the question with regard to experience with regard to a particular brand of technology is, to all intents and purposes, irrelevant

Since industry is, in a sense, a form of technology it is also to all intents and purposes irrelevant

From here a systematic line of questioning and observation using a series of well proven questions will quickly identify which of the above factors are contributing to the problem and the manner in which they are making this contribution leading ultimately to examination of the systems in question in order to gather solid fundamental supporting evidence

This approach of drawing on decades of experience within the context of a highly structured experientially based classification allows me to very quickly diagnose the root cause or causes of the problem AND very quickly prescribe the appropriate treatment – over the years I have developed a deep understanding of all the above factors and, most importantly, the measures necessary to remediate the factors causing failure and action the factors for success


The Critical Factors for Business System Implementation Success

As a corollary to the previous point a successful implementation is one in which ALL the above factors are engineered and managed out of the situation

In doing this there are ALSO a number of factors that should be managed to achieve a successful outcome.  These are largely the same factors as above with different priorities and focused on the POSITIVE side of things

Thus a successful outcome is achieved by managing the negative Factors Causing Failure OUT of the situation and managing the positive Factors for Success INTO the situation

The Critical Factors for Success are as follows:

1.Effective Executive Custody

2.Effective Strategic definition and Alignment – the essence of the business

3.Effective Engineering Approach

4.Effective Precision Configuration

5.Effective Business Simulation Laboratory operation

6.Effective business integration, training, change facilitation, process specification

7.Reliable technology – capable, reliable software, hardware, network, etc with more than adequate capacity

The average contribution of these factors to successful high value outcomes that strongly support strategic goals, as encountered in my experience, are shown graphically as follows:




This light touch experience (or expertise) based approach enables rapid diagnosis of problems and necessary treatments and is the reason why a Pulse Measurement can be successfully undertaken in between one and ten days depending on the scale of the organization and the nature of the problem

It is also the basis on which I can offer the guarantee that if the client is NOT satisfied with the direction that the investigation is taking by the time I am one third of the way through the agreed time frame I will walk away without billing subject to my travel, accommodation and subsistence being paid for

I am available to assist as necessary in applying my recommendations in your organization


Tap into our highly effective light touch "expertise based" approach to quickly and accurately identify the root causes of your Business Information System and ERP problems and define the actions necessary to turn the situation around and achieve a HIGH VALUE outcome


Click here to email us now to discuss your requirements and obtain a proposal without obligation

Indicative Pulse Measurement Durations

The exact duration of a Pulse Measurement is determined by the size of the client, the nature of the problem and the level of detail that the client requests in the investigation

The following are reasonably reliable indicative estimates of the on-site time required to undertake a Pulse Measurement including initial briefing by the Chief Executive, preparation of a short letter report and discussion of that report with the CEO and other Executives and Managers nominated by the CEO -- the goal is to provide a short, sharp high impact diagnostic -- refer to other modules on this page to understand why we claim Dr Robertson can produce such a high impact result in such a short period of time

In most cases the CEO or Sponsoring Executive will receive a good indication of the direction the investigation is taking by the end of the first or, at most, the second day allowing you to curtail the investigation if you consider you have met your objectives

Client Organization Turnover Pounds Indicative Duration of Pulse Measurement in Days
Up to £7.5 million 1 days
Up to £15 million 2 days
Up to £30 million 3 days
Up to £60 million 4 days
Up to £125 million 5 days
Up to £250 million 6 days
Up to £500 million 7 days
Up to £1,000 million 8 days
Up to £2,500 million 9 days
Over £2,500 million 10 days

Obtain a MUCH BETTER result in a FRACTION OF THE TIME and at a FRACTION OF THE COST of more conventional approaches and potentially save millions, unlock massive value and equip and empower executives to obtain the EXPECTED RETURN ON INVESTMENT on your Business System and ERP investments


Click here to email us now to discuss your requirements and obtain a proposal without obligation

What is a JAR&A Pulse Measurement?

Do you have concerns about your I.T. function or about a specific project?

Are you debating whether to replace your existing financial and operational systems with a new E.R.P.?

Are you concerned that your company is not keeping pace with I.T. or is going in the wrong direction?

Do you have an E.R.P. or I.T. project that is stalled?

Are you wondering where you can obtain an independent third party opinion?

An I.T. pulse measurement by Dr James Robertson may be just what you need.



Dr Robertson's pulse measurement is a structured, interview based investigation into a problem that YOU define.

The pulse measurement comprises:

1) One on one interviews with your executive team.

2) One on one interviews with key business users of I.T. at various levels as appropriate to the focus of the investigation.

3) Interviews with I.T. staff and service providers coupled with review of critical systems as appropriate to the focus of the investigation.

4) A structured analysis resulting in a concise structured report based on the factors discussed in Dr Robertson's book "The Critical Factors for Information Technology Investment Success".

This analysis identifies and prioritizes the "Critical Findings" and recommends prioritized "Critical Actions" arising from the investigation. This is accompanied by a concise evaluation of the problem under investigation in terms of the criteria presented in the book.

5) Optionally the report may be followed with a formal presentation or briefing to your executive team and possibly other audiences.

6) Optionally Dr Robertson offers a critical issues workshop process to formulate specific response to the findings, such as definition of critical business requirements for a system (new or existing).

7) Optionally Dr Robertson offers advisory services with regard to implementation of his recommendations. This can comprise ad-hoc consultation or scheduled consultation which can take place on a retainer basis if that is appropriate to your requirements.

The I.T. pulse measurement has been developed to give a concise assessment of the health of your I.T. or other organizational issue through a limited scope, limited cost professional intervention that will give you greatly improved understanding of the problem in question and how to resolve it.

The findings are presented in a practical, no nonsense, manner that cuts to the chase in terms of the action required.

The pulse measurement is tailored to your exact requirements and will typically require from one to ten days of Dr Robertson's time giving a cost effective, high value, high impact diagnostic intervention.

"The lights have just gone on" -- exclamation by Executive Director of a client organization at the end of the second day of a pulse measurement when Dr Robertson provided a summing up of the investigation to that point and diagnosed the root cause of a project that was nine months behind schedule.

Over the years Dr Robertson has conducted dozens of pulse measurements for organizations of all types and sizes with regard to the full diversity of business systems, ERP’s, etc.

Out comes have included turning around a decision of a client executive to scrap a system based on a one day investigation, turning around a failing four hundred million Pound Sterling project with a one day visit to London, identifying a fundamental defect in an implementation that was in the process of putting a client organization out of business and equipping the chief executive to take a new direction. There have been many other cases of IT departments turned around and major expenditure prevented


It is not uncommon for an IT pulse measurement to save a client millions and sometimes even tens of millions and sometimes even AVERT BUSINESS DISASTER


Click here to email us now to discuss your requirements and obtain a proposal without obligation

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

Ineffective Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems can impact significantly on a business. To the relief of many a decision maker, one local service provider has introduced an offering that its developers say is able to accurately provide insight into problems and possible solutions.

The service is called a Pulse Measurement and is an interview-based diagnostic intervention which is the brainchild of Dr. James Robertson, an author and recognised voice within the IT and ERP market.

Dr Robertson runs James A Robertson and Associates (JAR&A), an established service provider within strategic application of business information systems.

The company believes that the Pulse Measurement service is making a critical difference to decision makers that struggle to derive value from ERP and cannot decipher where the problem lies.

The service involves Dr Robertson asking a limited number of well-tested strategic questions that are designed to gain insight into a business and its system problems in the shortest possible time.

Dr Robertson works on the basis of sixty minute one-on-one interviews starting with the CEO then the rest of the Executive team, followed by managers responsible for the systems and then staff operating the systems and technical staff, consultants, implementers, etc.  

The system is concurrently inspected and data, source code, manuals and other operational elements are inspected and interrogated as necessary.

Only those whose input is directly relevant to the stated problem are interviewed, others will be drawn in as required.
During the interviews Dr Robertson constantly weighs up the information provided against his diverse experience of conducting Pulse Measurements for over twenty years and involvement in the commercial application of computers for over thirty years. 

“With this context and the catalogue of factors causing failure and factors required for successful outcomes, we are to very rapidly arrive at a diagnosis of the cause or causes of the problem or problems,” says Dr. Robertson.

This provides a basis for further questions during the high level interviews and defines the line of inquiry as his investigation drills down to the operational side of system operation.

"Using this technique I frequently have a good idea of the cause of the problem by the time I leave the chief executive’s office and, in most cases, I know pretty nearly exactly what to look for in the technical evaluation by halfway through the first day", he continues.

Why commission a Pulse Measurement?
Most clients approach Dr Robertson to undertake a Pulse Measurement because executive management is frustrated with their ERP or other IT investment. 

Typical drivers for an investigation include:

• We have had this system for ten years, should we be changing to something newer?

• We have spent millions on this system and I still cannot get the information I want – what is wrong? – did we buy the wrong system?

• I keep being told that we should have another brand of ERP, how do I know if this is correct?

• The cost of running this system keeps climbing, what do I do?

• I am just #@*&^%$#@ frustrated with this thing, I am about ready to go back to a manual system!

• etc

The Pulse Measurement is geared to answering all these questions and any other of similar ilk within a period of one to ten days - depending on the size of the organization and the complexity and severity of the problem.

According to Dr. Robertson the basic implication of this approach is that managers are able to gain impartial objective, expert opinion on the health of their ERP within a few days at a very affordable cost.

He makes it clear that James A Robertson and Associates and this service is independent of all software vendors and implementers and will ‘tell it like it is’ as required.

"My default position is to retain and leverage the existing investment in software and service provider relationships but there are times when radical change IS justified" says Dr. Robertson. “For a modest investment you can obtain clarity on the REAL ISSUES with regard to your ERP operation, a clear understanding of what is required to remediate the situation, the reassurance that things are not as bad as they seem to be (or maybe worse) and, potentially, savings of millions”


In some cases a Pulse Measurement is all that is required for management to take appropriate decisions and bring things under control


Click here to email us now to discuss your requirements and obtain a proposal without obligation

Examples of Pulse Measurement Outcomes over 24 years

Following are some examples of Pulse Measurements and their outcomes.

Since the method and the findings relate to business principles, governance, psychology and related issues and since the fundamental technologies involve occur globally I have complete confidence that the method will be entirely relevant to your organization.

Frequently on completion of a Pulse Measurement clients are comfortable to action my recommendations themselves, sometimes they engage me to assist further.  In some cases my findings are highly unpopular with certain parties and it is politically expedient for clients to disengage from me.

These examples have been selected from projects over the last 24 years across diverse industries in order to give an indication of typical situations and outcomes:


     1.   Transport Holdings – see material on webiste

Development project not delivering over eighteen month period.

In two days diagnosed completely inappropriate technology solution and lack of competence on the part of developers and enabled Chief Executive to see the way forward – see interview on the Pulse Measurement page of the website.

Subsequently assisted client with procurement and implementation.


     2.   Perfume Marketing and Distribution Company

ERP and warehouse solution stalled for several months.

In less than a week diagnosed inappropriate implementer project staffing, management and approach including a dishonest bid.

Subsequently assisted client to turn the project around and bring to completion in five months delivering substantial strategic value.  Client is highly profitable today.


    3.   Wholesale Chemical Distribution Company – JD Edwards and big brand implementer

Eighteen month JD Edwards implementation by big brand Consulting firm.  After five months of live operation warehouse output was still extremely slow and delivery promise was being consistently broken to just-in-time manufacturing clients.  The client was starting to lose their biggest customers.

Within five days established that the configuration was fundamentally flawed and that none of the consultants could explain why it was the way it was or what was required to rectify the problem.

Advised the CEO to return to previous system for business strategic reasons and initiated discussion with previous service provider.  Client returned to previous system in five weeks and six months later referred to the decision as “the best decision we ever took”.


     4.   International Gold Mining Company – SAP R3

Non-functional SAP R3 Implementation including Projects, Plant and Materials across two continents.

In a week established that that the configuration was so deficient that re-implementation was the only option and showed executives why this was so.

Client decided to re-implement but out of consideration for shareholder opinion went with big brand implementer contrary to my recommendations.  Client is now in Business Rescue having closed one mine because costs ran out of control. Shareholders have lost their investment.  I am confident that if they had followed my approach they would be profitable today.


     5.   Large Construction Company – SAP R3

Full house SAP R3 implementation using a team of free-lance consultants that was going way over budget and deadline with massive demands on time from in-house personnel.

In a few days established that the external Project Manager was incompetent and that entire project approach was inappropriate.  Recommended a revised approach.


     6.   Warehousing and Distribution Company

Procurement including ERP and warehouse solution stalled with Management unable to make a buying decision.

In a few days established that the definition of the requirement was fundamentally flawed, that the adjudication criteria were inappropriate (the defining requirement was the Warehouse solution and not the ERP) and that both of the offers were unsuitable.

Subsequently facilitated a rigorous expedited procurement process where the final decision was between Sage X3 and SAP R/3 with EWM with Red Prairie as an alternative warehouse solution.  Client finally opted for Sage X3 and Red Prairie because there was only one EWM implementation in  the region and it was immature and rocky at that stage and there was an in-house relationship with the Sage X3 implementers (I advised in favour of SAP with Red Prairie).


     7.   Major Mining House– major user of SAP R3

Overall health check on the IT Department with particular emphasis on highly ineffective management reporting – a team of Chartered Accountants spending three weeks a month producing the Board Pack in Excel.

In two weeks found major governance issues with regard to IT across the entire Group globally and major weaknesses with regard to the SAP configuration, particularly in the Materials Master and including problems in the SAP Business Data Warehouse implementation.  Subsequently assisted on a number of fronts.


     8.   Fertilizer Manufacturer – BPCS

High levels of Executive frustration with incumbent BPCS ERP and associated custom development.  Strong sentiment to scrap the software even though it had only been recently implemented anew.  Implementation included Warehouse Management and Manufacturing.

In one week established that the software was a strategically poor fit to the business and that the custom development outside the software was necessary but was seriously complicated as a consequence of an unwise “zero customization in the software” policy that had seriously complicated fitting the solution to the software.  Also found that the bad attitude at the management level was in part due to an extremely toxic attitude on the part of the IT Manager and partly due to extremely bad communication between the technical team and management.

In a further two weeks undertook a comprehensive audit of what was required to remediate the system and submitted a second report.

Facilitated a decision in which the CEO took personal charge of the system and issued a formal policy decision that the system would not be changed and that all staff were required to “make it work”.  Assisted management in a decision to replace the IT Manager.

Also facilitated a discussion with the software providers where the client locked out of upgrades and secured the right to the source code and a five year support contract on the existing software with the right to renew.  This was accomplished on the basis of “The Right to Maintain and Repair”.  The system lasted for another eight years until the business replaced the system in their time and to meet their requirements.


     9.   Steel Product Manufacturing Company –  (Baan / Infor)

Very poor operating performance and information gaps and distrust of information at the Executive and Senior Management level with Baan as long established ERP including Warehousing and Manufacturing management.

In a week established that the problems resulted from extremely poor system configuration and overly lean system operation and support and enabled management to see what was required to rectify the problems.  Provided further guidance.


     10.  Construction Company

Three different operating divisions running three different systems, one an in-house developed legacy green screen AS/4-- system, one an off the shelf industry specific ERP and Construction Management system and the third a new in-house developed application.  Goal was to select one system for the entire business.

In a week established that the in-house development was badly conceptualized, badly executed and should be terminated and that the off the shelf system was basically suitable for all three divisions.  Proposed a rigorous evaluation process to enable the business to accept these recommendations but the project was shelved owing to a downturn in the economy.


     11.   Clearing Agents

Called in to investigate a system implementation of an industry specific system from Australia which had been stalled for nine months.

In three days established that there was a total strategic misfit between the software company and the client company in terms of service standards and that fundamental mistakes had been made with the implementation.  Enabled the Executive Director to see that the new system was totally inappropriate and then facilitated the selection of a new system with a high level of strategic compatibility between the service provider and the client.

At the end of the second day of the Pulse Measurement when I briefed the sponsoring Executive on my findings to that point he exclaimed “the lights have now gone on, I can see exactly why this is not working”.


     12.   Risk Management Consulting Company

Called to investigate a stalled development project that had repeatedly missed deadline.  Client was facing a contractual deadline with severe penalties if they did not have the software operating three months from the date I was called in.

In two days I established that the developer was incompetent to the level of being fraudulent and that there was nothing to show for the nine month investment.  Then assisted the client to bring together a professional team to develop a simple piece of software that on an 80:20 basis enabled the client to meet their contractual deadline with the 20% of functionality that would deliver 80% of the required business functionality.  I was responsible for the high level strategic design of the solution and the Precision Configuration.

The solution was so successful that the client achieved major operational efficiencies and dramatic management information gains way beyond expectations as discussed in the Case Study.


     13.   Primary Healthcare Provider Network

Client had been advised that their character based DOS system had reached the end of its life and should be replaced.

Assisted client to evaluate options, undertook a comprehensive evaluation of alternative systems on an international basis and established that the cost of creating the solution the business said it wanted was not justified. 

Then conceptualized and specified a solution to strengthen the existing system and reduce risk associated with the software developer.  This was carried out and the system lasted for eight years before it was finally unsuccessfully replaced with SAP R3 and subsequently by another system.  Developer was killed in a flying accident six months after commencement of the project but by that time the measures that I had prescribed to improve system maintenance robustness had reached such a level that the impact was limited.


     14.   Mining Contracting Company– Movex M3

Client was unsure whether Movex M3 system was suitable for their needs and was running without an IT Manager.

In less than a week established that Movex was suitable but needed reimplementation and assisted them to develop the job description of a new IT Manager.  Subsequently assisted with the interview, selection and induction process and with other aspects of carrying out my recommendations.  Advised on re-implementation but they eventually went with a process focused implementation and did NOT achieve the expected benefits.  Highly sub-optimal General Ledger implementation.


     15.   Public Water Supply Utility Company– JD Edwards

Client was dissatisfied with their existing JD Edwards ERP Solution coupled to Maximo Asset and Maintenance Management.

In three days established that at an operational level the systems were performing well but that there was a major communication and understanding disconnect between the new executive team and operational managers on both the business and system sides.

Established that there was no reason to replace any of the systems but that measures to improve communication and to orientate operational managers with regard to executive information requirements were necessary.  Proposed a plan of action.


     16.   Insurance Broking Group

Client was extremely dissatisfied with their existing custom developed software and was facing a breakdown in relationship with the developers as well as regular system failures.

In three days established that the software was well designed and built and that the developers were highly competent.  The technology failures were a consequence of the adamant refusal of the responsible business executive to spend money on new hardware even though the business had doubled in size in the time the hardware had been in use.

The breakdown in relationship was a consequence of extremely toxic behavior originating with the same executive that had almost totally alienated a loyal team of people.

The business executive had a Human Resource and Marketing background and no technical knowledge or experience with the result that he was inappropriately qualified to manage the Business Systems function and was operating out of assertive ignorance.  Recommended that the governance of the service provider and the IT function be moved to another executive, that a substantial new investment in hardware should be made urgently and that measures should be taken to restore the relationship with the service provider.


     17.   High End Leisure Products Retailer

Client was being serviced by a small software development company which had custom developed the software in use.  Client was concerned with regard to sustainability of the system and service provider and was considering replacing it.

In three days established that the developers were competent and the software was well developed and managed but that despite dramatic growth the client was paying extremely low fees with the result that the developer could not invest in the software or provide manpower redundancy or better documentation.  This was placing the client at serious risk.

Enabled the client to see that they should invest in the product and service provider and undertake a systematic program of action to safeguard the investment.  Assisted subsequently.


     18.   Large Scale Wine Producer

Client was experiencing difficulties with an industry specific package from Australia and wanted to know whether to replace it.

In two days established that the software was technically well suited but that there were issues with the financial viability and integrity of the local representative.  Subsequently facilitated a number of discussions with the Australian principles but the relationship had broken down to such a level that the client decided to replace the system anyway.


     19.   Stationary Products Manufacturer

Seemingly unexplainable errors in financials, stock figures and production figures had caused management to suspect that they were being defrauded by their Financial Manager.

In six hours established that the Financial Manager was honest and was doing her best but that unwise staff appointments, particularly in the warehouse, coupled to lack of training and poor system disciplines were resulting in unreliable data that the Financial Manager had taken upon herself to try and remediate instead of escalating to the owners of the business to take more fundamental measures.


     20.   Domestic Appliance Importer and Distributor

Client was operating an ERP and Warehouse Management and Fulfillment solution that was based on a product that was in use in a small number of organizations but which had been substantially modified by an in-house team in order to meet business requirements.  Client was concerned that the system was at end of life and should be replaced.

In three days established that the software was well maintained and that there were effective disciplines but that there was a major problem in terms of IT reporting to Finance that was forcing the Finance view on the rest of the business and cramping development and support to other parts of the business.  The IT Manager had particularly weak business communication skills.

Subsequently facilitated the re-positioning of IT under the Chief Operating Officer, repositioning of IT as Business Systems and provided coaching to the new Head of Business Systems in order to better equip him for his new role.


     21.   Newspaper

Client was choking with old and unreliable business systems and office automation hardware that was at end of life and also questioning diverse aspects of its technology portfolio and not sure what direction to take.

In two days advised client to replace hardware on a large scale and to go to the market to replace the existing support service provider with a larger service provider with a more strategic view and capability.

Subsequently provided advisory services with regard to implementation of these recommendations.


     22.   Government Competitions Agency

Client was looking to raise the bar in terms of their Business Systems capability.

In two days identified the way forward.  Subsequently drew up a job description for an IT Manager and assisted in his appointment.  Also developed a Strategic Requirements Definition and tender documents for procurement of a new system, facilitated the procurement and advised during the implementation.  Managed to hold the service provider to a fixed fee and fixed business outcome even though the Service Provider ended up expending about three times the budgeted time at no extra cost to the client.


     23.   Major Bank – Oracle

Client was busy with implementation of Oracle suite.  Completely separate teams for Finance, Human Resources and Procurement.  No congruent integrated view of the information and lack of structure and logic within major classification schemes.


     24.   Fleet Contracting Company

Client was concerned that existing AS400 based green screen software application was obsolete.

In three days established that the system was robust and sustainable and represented a very substantial investment in leading thinking key staff members.  Enabled management to take a quality decision to remain with the system and invest in it.

     25.   Petroleum Distribution Company

Client was a start-up company and needed to purchase an ERP for their wholesale fuel sales and distribution business.

In three days headlined the requirement and provided role clarity of governance of the Business Systems function.  Client subsequently purchased SAP R3.


     26.   Dairy Products Manufacturer and Distributor -- BPCS

Client was dissatisfied with its BPCS ERP system including Warehousing and fulfillment and also with its IT Department.

In three days established that the system was basically well implemented and operated but that the IT Manager was extremely technology focused and was failing to communicate effectively with the business.  Recommended re-positioning the IT Function as a Business Systems Function and moving it from under finance to report directly to the Chief Executive.

Subsequently assisted in drafting a job description for Head of Business Systems and in interviewing and inducting a new appointment from the team of external consultants that was advising the business as Head of Business Systems.


     27.   Armaments Design and Manufacturing Corporation

Appointed to develop an Information Technology strategic plan and assisted the client to see that the Business actually required a strategic plan that was business aligned.  Facilitated the development of this plan.

There are other examples.

Pulse Measurements have almost universally resulted in a shift in client understanding at the Executive or Senior Management level and in new action that would not have occurred otherwise.

There are a number of client and other recommendations with regard to my services and approach on my LinkedIn profile at   www.uk.linkedin.com/in/drjamesarobertsonerpdoctor/


Should you require further information please do not hesitate to contact me.

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Sample Pulse Measurement Report for Fleet Management Client -- ClientCompany28 -- Health of Microsoft AX Project and Implementer28 Professional Services

Project had been running for three years and cost millions with NO deliverable with seriously toxic relationships throughout the Project Team

Clear evidence of implementer incompetence and possibly dishonesty, range of key measures prescribed to turn the situation around

Implementer was the IT consulting arm of one of the "Big 4" accounting firms



A Pulse Measurement investigation into the health of the Microsoft AX Project and associated services from Implementer28 was undertaken for ClientCompany28 from 14 to 19 March 2012.


This report summarizes headline level findings and recommended actions.


All recommendations should be regarded as provisional and might be refined in the event of further information coming to light but are regarded as a reliable headline level result.



Following are the headline findings, percentages at the end of headings give an indication of the relative importance of each point in making my recommendations.


1.       Toxic project psychology and low visibility of deliverables – 7%
The level of conflicting opinions encountered during this Pulse Measurement was in the upper 10% of what I have encountered in doing dozens of Pulse Measurements

There is a lot of finger pointing, Implementer28 are blaming ClientCompany28, ClientCompany28 are blaming Implementer28, Implementer28’s people are blaming their management, ClientCompany28’s people are blaming their management.  There are people who were only prepared to express opinions subject to explicit assurance of confidentiality.

A significant number of reports of people in tears, people swearing and shouting, planning to resign or resigned, etc

The psychology of the project in many areas is very toxic although there were some suggestions that there were improvements as a result of recent developments

Very difficult to get real clarity with regard to what was going on, had to dig for sight of deliverables, reports of work trashed and redone repeatedly, etc

Ratings of likelihood of a successful outcome ranging from 0 (trash immediately) to 6 or 7, several people thought the project should be aborted

I have given this point a relatively low rating because it is my opinion that while these are real issues they are the symptoms of the issues addressed below

2.       Lack of a clear strategic project definition – 22%
The thing that stands out about this project is the complete lack of a clear definition of the project goals, divergent opinions as to the essence of the business and the project, etc

There is no visible document that clearly and concisely sets out the goals of the project, the Essence of ClientCompany28’s business, what the final deliverable will be and how to get there

The bottom line is that the project is rudderless and drifting with no coherent view of what is being achieved and how it is to be achieved

It appears that Implementer28 do not see such a definition as important and have never made any attempt to obtain clarity – Implementer28CEO thinks he knows what is required but his definition is drastically at odds with what I was consistently told by ClientCompany28 management – this seems to evidence a level of arrogance or disinterest which is cause for concern

My understanding of the Essence of ClientCompany28’s business as seen by ClientCompany28 Executives and Management is “financial services – we want to be the leading provider of leasing solutions through the use of highly automated and highly advanced financial service software systems”

The goal of the project from ClientCompany28’s side is “Internet banking on steroids – fully interactive computer applications on the customers desk that allows them to tailor a vehicle lease, get a quote and authorize the quote and then allow ClientCompany28 to process that order through to delivery with minimum human intervention, includes allowing suppliers to pay themselves”

On a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 = we do not need computers and 10 = we are completely dependent on computers as in financial services and banking, ClientCompany28 management see their goal for this project as being to move them to a 9 or 10 and see themselves as already being at a fairly advanced level.  Implementer28CEO on the other hand sees ClientCompany28 as currently a 4 with the initial aim of the project being a 6 with possibly an 8 in due course but does NOT see this as a critical requirement

Implementer28CEO does not see 10 as necessary or achievable

Implementer28CEO’s description of the project and its goals is flowery sales speak and lacks precision and clarity

The biggest single reason this project is in difficulty is a lack of a clear, consistent and cogent statement of the goals of the project coupled with a substantial gap between Implementer28’s interpretation of the requirement and the actual requirement as stipulated consistently by ClientCompany28 Executives and Managers – it is my view that it is the responsibility of Implementer28 to make sure that they accurately understand the goals of their client

There are references to head-count reduction goals which, in my experience, are likely to be difficult to deliver on – head count reduction is the natural consequence of a well configured, well implemented ERP well operated and is a spin-off.  Making head-count reduction a goal introduces negative psychology and results in people trying to figure out how to reduce head-count rather than now to implement the system optimally

3.       Development project NOT an ERP project, AX is an inefficient development environment – 15%
As a direct outworking of the previous point, ClientCompany28’s requirement is for a highly tailored solution geared to delivering the highly intelligent customer interface and all supporting services necessary to create the competitive position outlined above

It appears that Implementer28 only fully realized that this was primarily a development project about six months ago and have since been resourcing accordingly

As far as I can determine Implementer28 are primarily a ERP configuration service provider and NOT a development house.  They have had to acquire development resources but still have to learn how to manage such resources (fundamentally different management to configuration) and the massive gap in strategic understanding referred to above will hinder this

It is important to understand that from a fundamental first principles consideration of ClientCompany28’s objective, as set out above, this was NEVER an ERP project, it has always been a development project

It appears that either Implementer28 totally failed to comprehend this in their initial presales negotiations or chose to ignore it and try to shoe-horn ClientCompany28 into AX no matter what the cost

Estimates of the level of custom development on this project run to as high as 75% but not lower than 30%.  There is NO question that this is a major custom development project and that Implementer28 grossly failed to recognize this and run the project accordingly

Further indications are that AX is a complex, cumbersome and highly inefficient development environment, one ClientCompany28 technical staff member referred to it as “horrible” – I do not have independent verification of this but repeatedly observed that it was very difficult to get clarity on what is being developed and that there is considerable jargon on the part of Implementer28 personnel

It should be noted that the development of an “Internet banking on steroids” solution for ClientCompany28 requires a front end customer interface that Is extremely lean, highly efficient (fast), robust, error free, etc – inherently this implies the use of high performance technology which as far as I can determine is NOT what AX offers.  There appear to be strong reasons to suggest that the customer interface should NOT be developed using the approach currently proposed

Coupled to this there is a fundamental issue in that the solution should be designed top down with the customer interface as the starting point – determine what is required in the customer interface and then build the rest of the customization to deliver this.  In this case there is no attempt to design and build in this manner

There appears to be a basis to circumscribe the extent of development undertaken in AX versus what might be undertaken using other technology

It appears that AxAddOn28 may only provide a 15% fit according to some interpretations and is therefore an inappropriate technology choice – at that level of fit it would be better to redesign from scratch.  Xxx appears to know of alternative technology which is allegedly a better fit

Changing from AX 2009 to 2012 mid-stream seems questionable given that there was so much custom development required – there is the paradox that many of the reasons why Informix has been rejected as a future platform are manifesting in the AX environment – e.g. massive upgrade effort – it is estimated that the move from 2009 to 2012 has delayed the project by 9 months, this is roughly the length of time it would have taken to port the current FourGen / Informix Xxx solution to the Xxx database platform which would allegedly have remediated the technical constraints on Xxx (note that Informix is owned by IBM)

4.       Implementer28 have failed to provide necessary professional guidance – 14%
From consideration of the previous points it will be apparent that I am of the opinion that Implementer28 have failed miserably to provide the required level of professional guidance and thought leadership with the result that a year to two years of time, hundreds of thousands of Pounds and tens of thousands of hours have been sub-optimally employed if not totally wasted

It seems that Implementer28 have spent three years without a robust clearly understood definition of the project goals – I would expect to see carefully designed posters setting out the project goals and main design elements, I asked close to ten people for the strategic concept document that allegedly exists but at the time of writing have not received a copy

Implementer28 have spent at least two years treating the project as an AX ERP configuration project when fundamentally it is a development project and AX is not necessarily then the most appropriate technology platform – by all means use AX as the ERP but that does NOT necessitate that high performance customer facing software has to be developed within the AX context and if AX is inhibiting development to the extent that some people seem to suggest then AX needs to be reconsidered

Implementer28 appear to have shifted considerable responsibility for the design of the solution to ClientCompany28 people with ClientCompany28 staff being taken out of production for very considerable periods of time to undertake documentation and workshops that appear to be outside their scope of knowledge and experience and producing mountains of theoretical documentation.  At this stage I have not been convincingly shown that these documents are resulting in a concrete and robust deliverable

It is my opinion that Implementer28 should have facilitated workshops with groups of ClientCompany28 people and that Implementer28 personnel should have produced the documentation in close cooperation with the development personnel in order to ensure robust specifications.  The basic process should entail:

- Walkthroughs of current way of doing things
- Outline by ClientCompany28 management of the future desired state
- Workshops with user populations, with Implementer28 analysts AND developers present
- Implementer28 analyst personnel produce documentation in consultation with business and developers
- Review draft specification in workshop setting with business users and developers
- Refine
- Review and refine again
- Adopt

It appears that the process that has ACTUALLY been followed is:
- Pull ClientCompany28 personnel out of the business
- Leave them to draft all sorts of documents they really do not understand
- Workshop in some way
- Present to management and get an explosion because management were not consulted at the start

As far as I can see Implementer28’s way of working is fundamentally flawed from a systems engineering perspective, it appears to be defective even from the perspective of limited tailoring of standard AX components in that it seems to be fundamentally a bottom-up approach

The ClientCompany28 team for the most part appear to be dedicated, loyal, passionate and trying really hard but from what I can see the defective Implementer28 approach has set them up for failure

It does not appear to occur to the Implementer28 consultants that if they are repeatedly doing weeks of work and being told by ClientCompany28 management that the results they are producing fail to meet business requirements that there is something wrong with the way Implementer28 are doing things rather than blaming ClientCompany28 – UNLESS ClientCompany28 have been consistently interfering with the work of the Implementer28 consultants and giving them direction and then not take responsibility for the outcome

It is firmly my opinion that a client engages the services of an external professional services firm like Implementer28 on the basis that they expect that firm to provide comprehensive guidance, thought leadership, strategic architectural guidance, etc – this appears to be consistently lacking in the services that Implementer28 have supplied

There are some VERY GOOD PEOPLE on the Implementer28 team but the high level leadership is lacking and there are rumbles that the top management of Implementer28 have refused to listen to the consultants on many occasions and made sales promises to ClientCompany28 that the consultants knew were false and that they could not deliver on

It does appear that Implementer28 are course correcting, Xxx and a number of his people appear to be highly competent and Xxx appears to be competent but they are operating within a defective governance framework from Implementer28 management and at this stage seem likely to produce more of the same unless the fundamental strategic definition issues outlined above are fully addressed

I have not been able to understand why moving to an “Agile” methodology is going to fix the problem when huge amounts of work have been done and it appears that the basic content of the work is defective

Certain Implementer28 consultants come across as very cocky and confident to the point of being arrogant without necessarily being able to demonstrate delivery

There is a massive deficit in terms of high level strategic guidance with regard to the design of the overall solution and, at this stage, while I think that the development team MAY be capable of delivering technically they need much clearer strategic direction and I am not sure that Implementer28 management have the knowledge and experience to run a project of this nature or else they are stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that there is something that they are doing which is fundamentally getting in the way of the core objectives of the project

There also appears to be a lack of Governance clarity on the Implementer28 team in terms of who is guiding the project overall

Fundamentally ClientCompany28 have very substantial and very valid reasons to deal very severely with Implementer28 – this having been said, the fact is that ClientCompany28 have made a huge investment in getting to know the AX environment and development platform and build relationships with the Implementer28 team and Implementer28 have made a commensurately huge investment in getting to understand ClientCompany28’s business and build relationships with ClientCompany28’s people – it is NOT in the interests of ClientCompany28 to terminate Implementer28 at this point BUT a major change in the way the relationship is managed is going to be vital

5.       ITManager28 is stretched excessively – 10%
It seems that ITManager28 is excessively stretched and that she has stepped up to the plate in various areas which have resulted in this situation

It is recommended that actions are taken to assist ITManager28 to focus on her core areas of real high value knowledge and experience relative to achieving the project outcome and provide resources to ensure that other activities are delegated to others – I understand that some recruitment measures are in place but would recommend that the exact specification of the human resources required be carefully evaluated in the light of this report before personnel are appointed or contracted

6.       ClientCompany28 need a very experienced and very senior project leader /  director – 12%
From ClientCompany28’s side it seems to me that the biggest gap if for a very senior, very experienced project leader / project director, not necessarily full time, to come in and take over the running of the project from the client perspective, someone who can engage in tough negotiations with the service provider, negotiate in terms of project scope on a peer level with executives, give strategic solution guidance, etc 

This is a role that I sometimes play, ClientCompany28CEO has asked me for a separate proposal in this context

7.       Outsourcing of the development of core strategic capability is not advisable – 2%
Given the very ambitious vision of ClientCompany28 and the core strategic capability that it is desired to develop I am not entirely comfortable with an external third party developing the elements of the software that are critically strategic, that is the software to sit on customers desks

I realize that it is late in the day to change the current contractual arrangements but I would suggest that the current arrangements are reviewed – it is vital that the core software development capability for core strategic value should be tightly held by ClientCompany28 and NOT be out in the market to be sold off to the highest bidder

Undertaking key elements of this development in-house should be carefully considered

8.       Fundamental database design and business intelligence design can start immediately – 8%
I strongly recommend a drastic rethink of the way the solution is being designed

The fundamental logical entities that make up the customer user interface and the  major building blocks of the solution, that is vehicles, accessories, customers, lease terms, etc, etc are well known and will not change – there is no reason a robust entity relationship map of fundamental data elements cannot be developed immediately

This document will then form the basis of:

-  Database design for the customer user interface
-  Design for the data warehouse and  Business Intelligence solution loading out of Xxx as an interim solution if required

The fundamental database design is a function of the business NOT AX, there needs to be linkage back into AX in some cases but if the view that up to 60% or more of the total solution will be custom developed then constraining this development because of the existence of AX must be questioned.

9.       Quality of validation data is average to poor requires critical attention – 6%
Quality of validation data is average to poor, the new Chart of Accounts seems fair but could be improved but other lists like the Accessory code require significant investment:

There is no logic in the above list on which software intelligence can be built

A well designed hierarchical list should replace this

Similar comments apply elsewhere

Note that a poorly configured ERP leads to all sorts of operational inefficiencies and increased operating costs – precision configuration is a critical requirement to achieving the goals set for this project and I have seen very little evidence of precision configuration – thus, while this point has a relatively low weight it is nevertheless critical once the other issues have been addressed

10.   Remediating and strengthening Xxx should be investigated further – 4%
The possibility of falling back to Xxx was explored

There ARE apparently interface issues with the Informix Database that are inhibitors to change but further research in this field may be warranted

Conversion to the Xxx database would open up the database but is estimated to take two senior developers twelve months and does carry risks.  Once this was done ClientCompany28 would be able to use a diversity of development technology to enhance the Xxx solution long term

Note that it would be necessary to pay premium salaries for key developers but it is likely that these salaries will NOT be any more than are required for AX developers

There does appear to be a basis to conclude that the decision to trash Xxx was not necessarily the best decision given the real strategic priorities, it is almost certain that if ClientCompany28 had remained with Xxx, converted the database and run a tight project in lines with past experience that a new customer interface would have been deployed and fully operational at least a year ago

The above findings point to a number of areas of uncertainty that require further investigation in order to arrive at a robust way forward.  Proposed actions are discussed in the next section of this report

Overall it appears that the project can be stabilized and managed to achieve a successful outcome but some significant changes in approach are called for

Recommended Actions
Following are the recommended actions following on tabling of this report:
1.       Appoint executive level project leader /  director – 28%
ClientCompany28 need an executive level individual, probably part time, to drive this project for them – need considerable systems, project management / leadership experience, architectural ability, etc – this person should lead and guide the execution of all the points below

2.       High level solution design and documentation – 23%
Run a series of workshops at the Executive level to arrive at a robust and comprehensive high level specification of the required business outcome (Internet on steroids) and produce comprehensive documentation down to the level of the individual user interface screens that the customer will interact with

3.       Evaluate sustainability of Xxx – 14%
Undertake further research to establish whether there are alternative solutions to the problems with Informix interfacing in order to make Xxx more viable as a fall-back position

Note that Informix is now owned by IBM so I would expect there to be fairly robust alternative solutions to the problems that were described to me in terms of interfacing

4.       High level walkthrough and more in-depth evaluation of state of AX project – 11%
I had great difficulty getting a real hands-on feel for what is there, some people said almost nothing and others say a considerable amount

The only way to answer this is to get all the key people in a room for a day or two days and have the Implementer28 and ClientCompany28 teams walk us systematically through what has been done in terms of practical demonstration of documents, screens, etc

At the end of this process take a final decision as to whether there really is a case to continue with AX or fall back to Xxx and alternative technology is warranted

5.       More detailed evaluation of Implementer28’s performance – 9%
For the reasons indicated above it is difficult to gauge Implementer28’s performance – as far as I can see I would give them about 2/10 but a few people seemed to point to better performance

The proposed walkthrough above will give a better indication of whether Implementer28 is just offering good sales talk and technical sub-standard work or is able to deliver – note that I think that provided the way in which they are managed is significantly changed there is a reasonable basis to expect that they can deliver provided we prevent loss of further key personnel

I do NOT think that Implementer28 should be terminated unless it is found that there really is nothing of substance to show for the work done so far but I DO think they need to be managed very differently

6.       Project to deliver customer solution as rapidly as possible – 7%
I am reasonably certain that with limited technical adjustments and compromises it should be possible to start designing and developing the software to sit on client desk-tops in the near future, to run against Xxx if necessary initially

7.       Precision configuration (taxonomy) activities – 5%
Precision code tables should be developed – refer my Taxonomy Manual for reference

8.       First principles data warehouse and business intelligence design – 3%
As with the customer interface, the design of the master tables for the Data warehouse should commence soon and not be further delayed and the same with the Business Intelligence design


There appear to be major reasons for dissatisfaction with Implementer28 and reasons for concern with the current project status


Measures should be taken that improve team morale, improve focus and build on what it good in the project environment which appears to be significant and improving – we should NOT break what is in the process of getting fixed

Having said this there is a need for appointment of a senior advisory / leader to ClientCompany28 to direct the project, proper definition of high level project goals, more in-depth assessment of the value of the work done to-date and other actions directed at ensuring a high value outcome


I am available to assist in whatever way ClientCompany28 require to give effect to these recommendations.

Dr James A Robertson PrEng

Random Selection of Articles by Dr James Robertson

Std 015 Procurement: 07 Bid Compliance Checklist

The Bid Compliance Checklist is designed to ensure that bid documents are complete and that bidders comply with prescribed requirements.  Bidder are required to initial each item to confirm compliance and reference to the documents that underpin the specific point where this is applicable
Cnf 065 The REAL Issues in IT Audit

An overview of the Critical Factors for IT investment success and the factors causing failure from an Audit perspective and presentation of a Critical Issues based audit investigation framework directed at identifying the REAL health of IT from an Audit perspective

Dr James A Robertson PrEng The ERP(IBIS) 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:

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Random Selection of Articles by Dr James Robertson

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In some cases bidders may need information from third party software suppliers who are providing services or information to the client, this document provides basic information for this purpose
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The Business Simulation Laboratory is a fundamental component of a successful project.  This document specifies the manner in which the laboratory will be run
It is vital to test the software and the configuration thoroughly in the laboratory with the express purpose of breaking the software and the configuration by testing situations that cause the software either to fail or to fail to return the correct result
One the software and configuration have been adjusted to the point where it is NO longer possible to cause failure then the configuration can be used as a platform for configuring workflow, developing and testing reports and business intelligence models, developing policies and standards, developing training manuals and interactive training material and training staff
The project should ONLY go live once all the above had been successfully completed and ALL staff are trained up in the laboratory
At this stage the Certificate authorizing deployment should be signed by all parties.  As you will see further down the page this is a fairly onerous certificate and should ONLY be signed if ALL parties are FULLY satisfied the software and configuration is fully stable and all elements that are necessary for a successful deployment are in place

Cnf MVw Most Viewed Presentations

The following presentations are those that have been most viewed since posting on Slideshare giving some indication of where the focus of interest lies
Std 018 Procurement: 09 Table of Contents of Submission

The Table of Contents of the Tender Submission is prescribed in detail in order to ensure that different bids can be lined up against one another and accurately compared

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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

Why Order a Pulse Measurement Today?

• A diagnosis of the headline causes and recommended treatment actions is frequently made in as little as one to two days.

• A comprehensive high level analysis of the extent of the problem and outline of the proposed solution can follow in a comparably short time.

• All findings are explained in language that makes sense to executives using easy to understand metaphors to drive home the point.

• A presentation to EXCO is an optional add-on drawing on a portfolio of slides built up over twenty plus years.

• The Pulse Measurement is geared to give Executives sufficient insight into the issues that they can take charge of and start taking informed BUSINESS decisions about.

• Outcomes can range from some simple organizational actions to a recommendation to trash the system as a matter of urgency. In one case where a disastrous implementation was in the process of trashing the company because of failure to meet customer service level promises they rolled back to the previous system in five weeks!

Countering this, another client was able to get another eight years life out of a system that they were on the point of trashing before the Pulse Measurement.

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

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