Consultant, advisor, facilitator
James Robertson is a Management Consultant, Executive Advisor and Strategic Facilitator with over 24 years’ experience in the field of the high value strategic application of business information software systems (including ERP) in business.
James brings to his work very diverse experience including four years in investment economics and financial modeling including development of a highly differentiated software solution that enabled the business to double in size in twelve months because it could do things no other firm could do at the time. During this time James was regularly involved in consulting to clients at the Vice President level in major international banks and investment houses and therefore has been comfortable in the executive suite and conversant with the matters important to executives throughout his career.
Software design and development
During this period James had to develop a significant amount of software using very new Personal Computer technology. Consequently he undertook considerable study in the fields of software design and database design and wrote a number of quite sophisticated pieces of software. He also had to learn the workings of computers at a hardware level in some depth. Accordingly he has a very solid first principles understanding of computer technology and software. As a consequence he is able to communicate effectively with technical people, understand software issues, design and test software and also hold informed high level opinions with regard to other technology.
Executive level translator between business and technologists
The combination of these two knowledge and experience sets – executive level understanding coupled to first principles understanding of business system software technology enables James to play a unique role in translating business requirements into software and system requirements. This allows him to serve as an accomplished translator between the business and the people responsible for the technology. It also allows him to conceptualize and specify highly effective software enhancements in support of business objectives.
Formal engineering practice
James spent a further four years in the formal practice of Engineering achieving certification as a Professional Engineer (South Africa), which status he continues to hold as a statement of his commitment to engineering excellence. Having been involved in Mine Design James brings a unique perspective to the concept of “Data Mining”.
ERP design, construction and commissioning
During these four years he partially architected and project managed a new fully integrated Business Information System (ERP) that went on to become a leading niche specialty product. He has been involved in the implementation of ERP and other business information systems ever since (26 years).
Robust understanding of data and information
His Engineering training and PhD research have also given him a robust understanding of data acquisition and analysis with regard to complex multi-dimensional and multi-variable information sets.
Military command and leadership
Concurrent with the above James commanded an Engineer Regiment in the South African Citizen Force (part time army) and was fully qualified up to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. During his term he led a major re-branding exercise that took his regiment from being a poorly regarded rear echelon support unit to becoming one of the foremost peace keeping units and setting a new world record for assault river crossings. Accordingly he is well versed in the challenges of managing, leading and motivating medium sized organizations and understands the demands of corporate management from a firsthand perspective. He also received formal training in mobile warfare “quick attack” appreciation and planning which has stood him in good stead in developing critical issue methods that allow him to quickly and accurately assess the real issues in any business systems situation.
During the period up to 1989 James was also exposed to diverse other techniques including formal approaches to information classification and cataloging which have also equipped him to bring highly innovative thinking to the integrated business information systems arena see http://www.James-A-Robertson-and-Associates.com/Configure.aspx and associated pages relating to the principles of Precision Configuration.
Sophisticated strategic Charts of Accounts
This has also given rise to pioneering work with regard to the design and construction of highly sophisticated strategically orientated precision Charts of Accounts for medium to large organizations see http://www.James-A-Robertson-and-Associates.com/Configure/CubicBusinessModel.aspx
Diverse client and system experience
Since embarking on his independent consulting career in 1989 James has consulted to an extremely diverse range of corporate and government clients with regard to a wide diversity of in-house, custom and brand name systems, including many of the big brand ERP’s and has developed unique high value techniques. This diverse experience enabled James to quickly and effectively interpolate lessons learned with other types of client and systems to new clients and systems thereby enabling him to quickly conceptualize high value solutions that are not confined by the limitations of narrower experience sets.
Diagnostic “Pulse Measurement” investigations
One of his core competencies is the ability to quickly, within one to ten days, depending on the size of the client organization, diagnose the core issues as to why a business information system investment is failing to deliver and prescribe the measures necessary to remediate the situation. In the past 24 years James has undertaken dozens of these investigations. http://www.James-A-Robertson-and-Associates.com/Pulse.aspx
Understanding of the “soft issues”
Over the years James has gained substantial insight into the psychology of management decision making, the psychology of change and other “soft issues” and has also developed significant communication skills. This, together with his broad general knowledge and headline strategic understanding of all major facets of business, enables him to offer an extremely well rounded and strategically insightful service to clients.
Project leadership and project management
James has been designing and building things and leading and managing projects from an early age and has developed highly effective techniques for leading and managing business system implementation projects. http://www.James-A-Robertson-and-Associates.com/Guide.aspx
From the outset James realized that the strategic alignment of business information systems and support for strategic executive decision making were the most fundamental requirements for any business information system investment. He also discovered that there was a general lack of robust strategic analysis and design (strategic planning) methods coupled to a lack of clear understanding of the term strategy. He set about investigating available definitions and methods and was particularly impressed with the definitions and methods of Professor Malcolm McDonald some core elements of which form the basis of his view of strategy.
Assisting clients to thrive
The core principle of strategy being “doing the right things” and tactics being “doing things right” such that if an organization “does the right things well”, defined by McDonald is the basis of James’ corporate logo and underpins concepts such as facilitating executive level “thrive decisions”. This has also led James to define strategy as “the essence of the business and how it thrives”. Malcolm’s concepts of the journey of strategic change have also framed James’ approach to strategic business improvement.
Robust strategic planning
Based on techniques used by McDonald James has developed a robust “engineering” approach to strategic analysis and design (strategic planning), together with some custom developed software he has a highly effective approach to facilitating strategic analysis of a corporate situation and, from this, developing a systematic time schedule and resource plan for projects and activities to close the strategic gaps determined in the workshops. This can then be worked through to Key Performance Indicators. This method can also be used for other plans. http://www.James-A-Robertson-and-Associates.com/Strategy.aspx
The Critical Factors for business information system implementation success
About ten years ago James undertook an in-depth analysis of the information that he had gathered to that point and synthesized the seven factors that cause business information system failure and the seven critical factors for business information system success. http://www.James-A-Robertson-and-Associates.com/ERPSuccess.aspx Based on this he wrote a book and developed a series of courses and executive briefings.
Robust, tough business information system procurement
James came to understand early on that a robust contract and tough contractual conditions were a vital first step in any major business information software system procurement. Over the years he has progressively developed a substantial suite of documentation and method that is directed and facilitating a robust procurement process modeled on the approach used in the construction industry. This approach ensures that accountability for the outcome rests with the implementation firm, that risk is fairly apportioned and that client interests are fully safeguarded see http://www.James-A-Robertson-and-Associates.com/Procure.aspx Using these techniques James recently completed a project where almost the entire cost of a three-fold budget overrun was carried by the implementer with only limited extra cost to the client.
Presentations and Articles – writing and speaking
Because James has undertaken so much applied research and original thinking he has also given many conference presentations and written many articles and papers, some are listed at http://www.James-A-Robertson-and-Associates.com/Articles.aspx Because he has spoken at so many conferences he has developed public speaking techniques that enable him to present difficult subjects in ways that make them easy to understand.
Business simulation laboratory ensures business system implementation success
Applying his very detailed experience with regard to building and operating a complex engineering laboratory geared to simulating the real world James has developed robust methods relating to what he terms “the business simulation laboratory” in which every facet of the installation is simulated in order to ensure that the system will work reliably in practice thereby preventing the disastrous “go live” experiences of many organizations http://www.James-A-Robertson-and-Associates.com/Laboratory.aspx
Comprehensive business information systems advisory service
This spectrum of knowledge and experience knit together within the context of robust, high quality engineering training under the guidance of leading engineers has given rise to a situation in which James Robertson is able to offer clients an exceptionally differentiated high value service with regard to achieving real value from business information systems.
More information about James Robertson at http://www.James-A-Robertson-and-Associates.com and http://www.James-A-Robertson-and-Associates.com/About.aspx