If you google pictures with employees you see lots of smiling, handshaking, high-fiving, applauding and motivated people. It looks like they are enjoying what they are doing. Is this representing the reality of everyday life? Probably not. (meer…)
“Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane.” It’s Kaya Consulting ! your superhero ready to fight villains.
“In my 19 years of implementing ERP systems, absolutely none”, I admitted and my colleagues confirmed this. “So why do you try to conform to something that is actually not normal?”, the consultant asked. “Because that is what the customers want to hear: ‘Vanilla ERP system’, ‘Cloud’, ‘Agile’, ‘Fixed price’, these are all the current buzzwords”, said my sales director, on which the consultant replied “So you are consciously deceiving your customer?”, the consultant asked.
Every half a year Kaya Consulting is updating its strategy using a business model canvas in which we are discussing our value propositions and customer segments etc. So our discussion above became a bit off topic, but interesting none the less;
– We have emerging trends of cloud
– We want increasing access via mobile devices
– We have emerging new market segments
– And there is the internet of things going on
So who are those customers? What is our value proposition? What does it take to be able to deliver? Which are our channels? These were all key questions part of the theoretical model but it all boiled down to a more practical question that started the discussion above: “have you ever implemented an ERP system without any modifications?”
Does vanilla ERP exist?
“So why not? Every customer is asking for it! So why is this not possible?”, was the follow up question from the consultant. Well let’s see, to start:
– Every customer has its own identity. Every document will need to breathe that identity, so that by itself means we need to modify the layout of the reports.
– Every customer is doing business with other vendors and customers. And if we want to automate the exchange of information then we are talking about creating interfaces! Even EDI doesn’t work since there are different EDI standards, which is a paradox right there.
Reasons of ERP system modification
But the real reasons most of the time are:
– That company processes cannot be changed to a standard ERP system, sometimes because of statutory regulations or simply because of the situation of the company, whatever that might be.
– Adapting ERP systems is simply more efficient or cheaper.
– And most of the time the business process is simply perfectly fitting the company`s needs, so why change it to something less effective just so you don’t have to change the ERP system?
“So the conclusion is that the normal customer, with the normal set of employees with normal company procedures in a normal country with normal customers and normal vendors doesn’t exist?”, the consultant asked. “If it would exist, I think that it would be very normal for every normal person to start a normal business and compete”, the CEO of Kaya Consulting confirmed.
“So there is your challenge: ‘Do you dare to tell the customer that they are far from normal? And that modifying the ERP system to the customer`s need is a normal thing to do?’, the consultant asked. “We have to! everything else is deception”, the sales director stated.
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ˈsan(d)baɡ’ / verb: deliberately underperform in a race or competition to gain an unfair advantage
“You have the solution to this issue? So you were sandbagging us?”, the ERP manager said with a dark face while accusing me. “If you are open to an explanation, I can explain”, I offered, but sadly at that time he was not. And in hindsight I now know why…
Ability to execute
A few projects ago I was part of a large team of consultants and after a successful implementation of the finance module of Microsoft Dynamics AX2012 we then were charged with implementing the warehouse and logistic modules. However, we got stuck with a logistic procedure we didn’t know how to implement.
The solution was regarding the catch weight principle. However, at that time AX2012 was new and not one consultant had implemented nor was familiar with that concept. Which resulted in long meetings about a concept with a lot of Dynamics AX experts and logistic experts from the customer. Being in the meeting reminded me of a comedy named “See no evil, hear no evil”; the blind one and the deaf one trying to explain each other how the world works. So yes, with 15 years of Dynamics AX implementation experience, I didn’t know what Catch Weight functionality did in AX nor was I or the other consultants familiar with the principle. And yes time was wasted on architecting a solution that was not needed since there was standard functionality available.
Gartner did an analysis about ERP for product-centric midmarket companies in which Microsoft Dynamics AX was positioned as a visionary, but not a leader purely because nor Microsoft nor the partners have the ability to execute: “The growth of the market for the product goes faster than the creation of enough capacity of high-skilled business and functional people to serve customers globally. And as a partner we know this is true. Microsoft is leaving recruitment and education to the partners. Partners are reluctant to invest since there is this looming ‘certainty’ that your employees will be contacted at least twice a year by a recruiter.
Form your own project team
To bring both stories together: there is a lack of Dynamics AX resources and those resources are scattered throughout the market. A few facts
* Most large Microsoft Partners have senior and junior consultants. Most likely in a 1:6 ratio
* The majotity of boutique partners do have very good senior consultants. Most likely in a 1:2 ratio
* ‘Good’ partners have ‘bad’ consultants and ‘bad’ partners have ‘good’ consultants.
* Most freelancers are medior or senior consultants, otherwise they wouldn’t freelance themselves.
* Some freelancers only have one loyalty: Money.
* Employees you are grooming will get poached, eventually.
* And consultants with >15 years of Dynamics AX experience don’t necessarily need to be aware of all the functionalities Microsoft is introducing.
So take all this as granted; if you want the right resources in your project team you have to select them yourselves. You do this when you hire them in your company, so why not do this when forming a project group. Especially if this project group is going to work on automating your business processes.
In my opinion it is quite ok to request resumes and tell the partner you don’t want certain individuals on certain positions. In my opinion it is also quite ok to tell partners that you want contractors or other consultants from other partners on your projects since they simply have better industry or functional knowledge or simply more experience.
Kaya Consulting, independent experienced consultants
Hiring Kaya Consulting consultants is of course another good way of securing the right consultants on your projects. And if we can’t deliver the right consultant we will tell you so.
But it is true; if you call tomorrow we probably cannot help you, since we are busy on other projects. And once we accepted a project we will never abandon it until successfully delivered. Because of this attitude we can proudly say that we have never been part of a failed project.
Contact us for more details and don`t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to receive our latest blogs!
“My SAP implementation went 7x over budget, I’m ashamed to say this happened under my watch”, said the IT director of a large petroleum company during a presales presentation of Dynamics AX. “So we`re looking for an alternative”. “Are you asking me how much will it cost to implement Dynamics AX and more importantly how can we guarantee that the budget remains the same?”, I asked. Sadly enough this is not the only example of an “over budget case” during an ERP implementation. And this is also not related to SAP, since I’ve seen my fair share of over budget projects in Dynamics AX as well.
Your best interest or theirs?
The most interesting example of a project that went over-budget was an implementation built by a large system integrator for a very large online retailer;
– The system integrator was happily implementing the system
– Passed all the integral test cases.
– Was delivering according to the planned schedule
– Was delivering on budget
But something was off.
That something was revealed during a cigarette break, where the Solution Architect of the system integrator admitted to the PM of the customer that they put a lot of logic into Biztalk instead of the ERP system, simply because they couldn’t find the Dynamics AX resources but they had plenty of Biztalk developers. Luckily the PM of the customer was a smart cookie and Kaya Consulting was hired to give a second opinion of the implementation and Microsoft was hired to give a second opinion about the architecture. The outcome was “a whole new reimplementation is needed: If you would go live with the system it will do its job but you cannot change a single parameter or setting because of all the modifications made”.
How much do you want to save?
The ERP reimplementation was done by Microsoft Consulting Services with the help of Kaya Consulting. The system integrator was sued, but like most cases the customer lost that battle. So how do we prevent this from happening?
How do we not go over budget because of a bad effort calculation, planning or execution? The answers are simple:
- Recognize that you, as the customer, have no clue about what it means to implement an ERP system! It is not your core business, nor do you want to make it your core business.
- Hire an independent experienced project manager, or if you want to appoint someone within the company please make sure that the manager actually has project manager experience. Having a PMP certification, being an Agile Scrum master, having a green belt in Six Sigma doesn’t mean a whole lot without the necessary experience.
See the above as “You want to buy a house. You can negotiate terms yourself with the other real estate agent but most likely you are better off with your own broker who knows the market, the area, history of the house etc.”
Those are not all the answers though because most of the people simply forget to hire the independent consultant;
You bought a house, made a good deal but when you get the house, you should inspect it.
- You can do it yourself (Integral testing),
- you can trust your PM (who has no clue about the technical state of the product)
- you can trust the PM partner (but honestly, why would he tell you the truth?)
- or you can hire an inspector
Which is the best thing to do. It will save you from going live with a system that is not build well and it will prevent you from doing emergency repairs while using the system. However, this consultant might find something that needs to be repaired or rebuild, which of course will cost you money.
This can still lead to an over-budget-situation. How can you solve this? Easy: hire this consultant right from the get-go of the project. He will keep the implementation partner in line and has only one interest in his mind: Helping You!
Looking for this independent inspector for your Dynamics AX implementation? Give us a call.
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