The Financial Mail reported on 28 March 2003 that "it is estimated that as many as 19 out of 20 enterprise resource planning implementations do not deliver what is promised".
For over a decade the indications have been that over seventy percent of information technology investments fail to deliver anything whatsoever and that a further twenty percent fail materially to meet the business requirement stipulated when the investment was approved.
If comparable failure rates were experienced in other industries it is debatable whether we would use motor vehicles, travel over bridges or occupy multi-story buildings.
There are many factors behind the high failure rate of information technology investments which can be summed up by the statement "information technology investments fail because they are not designed not to fail". Engineers do not design bridges to stand up, they design them not to fall down. The challenge for information technology is to start designing solutions that do not "fall down".
What is required to achieve an industry which delivers a high level of business outcome reliability?
I have recently written a book on some of the requirements and would like to suggest the following:
1. Insist on design against failure rather than design for success, introduce engineering disciplines including changes in tertiary education content.
2. Introduce statutory professional accreditation and registration which includes professional liability of certified professionals, vendors and service providers for sub-optimal outcomes.
3. Develop clear models that allocate accountability for business outcome to business executives and accountability for technical outcome to technologists.
4. Recognise that the business utilisation of information technology has nothing to do with technology, it is about people and business and how they utilise technology to deliver business value.
5. Demystify information technology - cease allocating human characteristics and business outcomes to information technology and reduce it to what it really is, sophisticated algorithms that run on high speed adding machines. These cannot deliver real business value unless effectively utilised by human beings in the context of the fundamental objectives of the organisation utilising the tool.
6. Recognise the critical requirement for clear definition of business strategy in order to define long term information system requirements and specifications. This includes recognising that the capability of business to respond to unplanned, reactive change is extremely limited, long term planning is essential.
7. Recognise that the real cost of meeting the above requirements will result in accurate cost and time estimates for many information technology investments increasing considerably and that many proposed investments are simply not viable.
In considering these points it is important to recognise that sub-optimal outcomes of major business information systems can damage or destroy large and successful corporations. Poor system performance that detriments customer service levels will almost certainly result in customers taking their business elsewhere.
By way of example, some time ago I was asked to evaluate a major brand name enterprise resource planning investment that was not performing and for which there were indications that customers were starting to take business elsewhere. Initial investigation determined that a key part of the organisations competitive position related to a commitment to customers that orders placed by a certain time would be fulfilled by a certain time the following day. The manner in which the new E.R.P. system had been implemented was preventing this commitment from being met.
Customers were dissatisfied and after a number of months of live operation deliveries were still not taking place within the promised time frame. Eventually the implementation was aborted and the organisation returned to the software it had been using previously.
Failure to design the entire implementation around the organisations fundamental business differentiator caused damage to the business and resulted in a multi-million rand investment over nearly two years, which caused substantial disruption to the business, being aborted.
This is one example of many where failure to understand the core strategic drivers and differentiators of the business and to design against failure have given rise to complete information technology investment failure.
The challenge today for business executives and information technology practitioners, service providers and vendors is to confront the reality of endemic failure and take measures to actively change the way things are done in the industry in order to deliver reliable and successful business outcomes on a consistent basis.
Many of the issues require business to take a different approach in terms of demanding successful outcomes and holding parties to failure to account.
A far more robust investment value proposition and plan for value delivery is an inherent requirement.
Effectively applied business information systems can offer considerable value to business.
It is time to unlock this value and this represents a serious challenge to every person who accepts the designation of "Chief Information Officer".
There is a more detailed version of this document at the end of this page for larger projects with a more detailed procurement process
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Business Systems NOT delivering?
Call the Business Systems Specialist
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
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.
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:
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.
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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
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
List of Articles
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
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
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 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?
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
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