Feb 182020
 

Some years ago I was working for a large multi-national corporation. One morning I received an email from the CIO, addressed to the entire company, explaining a botched SAP rollout. The corporate-speak was some of the best that I have ever read; I reproduce it here, unaltered save for anonymisation, with my translation into layman’s English.

On June 1, we reached go-live with Dressing, Sauces and Oils North America (DS&O) on the TC3 instance of our SAP solution.

On June 1st we forced go-live of our half-baked SAP solution on DS&O, simply because we were so over-budget that the only other option would have been to scrap the project.

Since go-live, DS&O has experienced significant issues with the solution that are impacting the business’ operations and financial reporting.

Since go-live, the business has been losing money like a leaking sieve, because our ‘solution’ was a complete and utter disaster.

This is unacceptable for DS&O and for us.

DS&O have said clearly: “Make it work or die”. For us, ill-engineered solutions are the norm.

To be trusted partners, Global IT commits to fully supporting our businesses … so, we will do what’s needed to stabilize performance for DS&O.

SAP consultants will be brought in, at 3’000$ a day, to criticise the implementation and spend a king’s ransom on new servers that will make the problem worse.

To that end, Andrew Brown, our SAP lead and a member of the CIO leadership team (LT), will personally spearhead the effort to review all factors that could be contributing to the instability.

Andrew’s balls are, in theory, on the table to get this working. In reality, at 3’000$ a day, he doesn’t give a flying fuck, and anyway he has a new client ready to shaft just down the road.

This includes looking at business processes, operations, data as well as assessing the actual solution itself.

We will re-hash the miserable initial requirements analysis and lay the blame squarely with the consultants that are no longer with us.

We want to fully understand the root cause to thoroughly address the issue for DS&O and add to important learnings.

I heard ‘root cause’ in a management course and it sounds good here.  ‘important learnings’ is cute too; I’ve been managing IT for 30 years and I still have yet to learn one single lesson from my impressive catalogue of mistakes.

Andrew will be 100% focused on this effort, with members of the CIO LT stepping in to support other areas for which Andrew is responsible.

Andrew will try to attribute blame on his colleagues. If he is successful, I shall fire them, if not I’ll fire him. With a glowing recommendation.

We undertake this initiative with confidence we can stabilize DS&O and make any warranted enhancements to our approach or technology.

‘warranted’ means that we never made any bad choices initially. ‘enhancements to our approach or technology’ means that we might well need to choose a completely new technology, that will triple the budget and push the project back by three years. Until the next fuck-up.

We will work to ensure that the difficulties experienced here are not repeated.

Those of you who have already been through an SAP implementation will see the humour in this statement.

We will share these learnings with our businesses currently preparing for (or in) deployment.

Our bookmaker is currently taking bets on SAP projects at 15 to 1 of failure.

We also will continue to stress the importance of readiness … businesses and functions must undertake needed changes to prepare for the adoption of new processes, a new organizational structure, and more – all of which are required to execute enterprise process strategies.

Given the magnitude and cost of this unholy blunder, it would seem only fair that you accept some of the responsibility. After all, we did talk to you a couple of times before implementation.

What’s critical to understand is the  Leadership Team (CLT) remains as committed as ever to our ERP modernization journey and SAP as our solution.

We take the meaning of ‘dogmatic’ to levels that even a religious zealot couldn’t imagine. Every morning, we recite ‘Our SAP which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name”.

We are not stopping, we are not slowing down … we are moving ahead with our roadmap and the commitments we’ve made.

Yes, we are going to continue, hell-bent, on forcing SAP down your throats, no matter at what cost or damage to the business, because they had the sexiest PowerPoint presentation.

Leaders have confidence in our function and demonstrating our commitment to their businesses (as we are with DS&O) means we will continue to deserve that confidence. 

Truth be told, the business is sick and tired of IT delivering shitty service by some ignoramus in Bangalore.

Should you have questions about our work on DS&O, please reach out to your manager, SAP leadership or your CIO LT member.

For the British, ‘reach out’ has a distasteful innuendo, possibly acceptable in such a gush of platitudes. Notwithstanding, if you have any self-respect, find a job elsewhere.

Thank you,

If I was honest, I’d say I’m sorry, but I’m above that

Brian

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