Comprehensively configure and break the configuration until it cannot be broken any more and then comprehensively prepare the system and the business for operational deployment so that an exceptionally high value outcome is achieved with comprehensively mitigated risk
The concept of the Business Simulation Laboratory derives from Dr Robertson's experience in setting up and operating a very complex suite of Engineering Laboratory tests for his PhD
The Business Simulation Laboratory is the ONLY way that a high value ERP implementation can be accomplished while at the same time eliminating risk to the business -- provided it is well designed, well implemented and well operated within the framework of a tough contractual environment as created by our Engineering Procurement approach
We offer a range of services with regard to advice with regard to the establishment and operation of a Business Simulation Laboratory as a critical component of any ERP or Business Information System Configuration
Following is some headline information about the Laboratory
This webpage sets out the Laboratory approach that is recommended.
The Laboratory approach that is set out here has been developed by James Robertson over several decades and is geared to minimizing commissioning risk and maximizing reliability in the final commissioned Business Information Systems solution.
1. Laboratory Definitions
The following terms are applied:
A laboratory is a facility that provides controlled conditions in which scientific research, experiments, and measurement may be performed. (Wikipedia)
In the context of this document a System Configuration Laboratory is a room equipped with computers, visual aids, etc in which the configuration of a system is developed, refined and tested until it is stable and suitable for commissioning. The Laboratory is also used to develop and test reports, training material, etc. The goal of the Laboratory is that when the Laboratory work is completed the system is ready for deployment with a high certainty of a robust, reliable and sustainable outcome.
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of people.
The American Engineers' Council for Professional Development has defined "engineering" as “The creative application of scientific principles to design or develop structures, machines, apparatus, or manufacturing processes, or works utilizing them singly or in combination; or to construct or operate the same with full cognizance of their design; or to forecast their behavior under specific operating conditions; all as respects an intended function, economics of operation and safety to life and property.” (Wikipedia)
A prototype is an early sample or model built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from. (Wikipedia)
A prototype is a carefully and professionally constructed test sample of a system that in final form is intended to be put into economic operation by the developers (Robertson)
In the context of this document the entire configuration of all systems will be developed in Prototype form in the Laboratory until it reaches a point where it can be deployed in the business with a high level of certainty of a reliable and sustainable outcome.
Implementation is the realization of an application, or execution of a plan, idea, model, design, specification, standard, algorithm, or policy. (Wikipedia)
In the context of this document the Laboratory is a central component of the Implementation of the designated systems in the business. The main characteristic of a Laboratory based implementation is that every aspect of the configuration is comprehensively tested in the Laboratory such that the deployment of the software in the business is a Commissioning rather than an implementation with the bulk of the Implementation undertaken in the Laboratory.
A test can be considered as a technical operation that consists of determination of one or more characteristics of a given product, process or service according to a specified procedure. (Wikipedia)
In the Laboratory approach every component of the configuration will be comprehensively tested using statistically representative data such that the configuration is proven to be reliable and dependable. This is fundamentally from “User Acceptance Testing” insofar as it requires a much higher level of rigour and reproducibility. Automated testing software may be used to run repetitive testing cycles.
In software engineering, a walkthrough or walk-through is a form of software peer review "in which a designer or programmer leads members of the development team and other interested parties through a software product, and the participants ask questions and make comments about possible errors, violation of development standards, and other problems".
A walkthrough differs from software technical reviews in its openness of structure and its objective of familiarization. It differs from software inspection in its ability to suggest direct alterations to the product reviewed, its lack of a direct focus on training and process improvement, and its omission of process and product measurement. (Wikipedia)
1.6.1 Software Walk-through
In the context of the Laboratory approach a software walk-through is a systematic step by step practical demonstration of a piece of software directed at ensuring that the people present in the session gain a solid insight into the software and how it works directed at ensuring that the design work that follows is grounded in a solid understanding of how the software “machine” works.
1.6.2 Configuration Walk-through
A configuration walk-through is a systematic step by step practical demonstration of a piece of software configured to fit a particular element of the business using real data directed at ensuring that the configuration accurately fits the understanding of the people present in the walk-through with a view to ensuring a tight fit to the business.
The following principles are applicable to the Configuration Engineering Laboratory:
1.1 Prototyping environment
The laboratory is a rigorous, carefully controlled prototyping and testing environment managed by a very senior and very practical manager who has a clear high level holistic view of how the entire solution fits together and who clearly understands the critical role of the laboratory. This manager is to be supplied by the Implementer.
1.2 Representative data
The laboratory is populated with comprehensive, carefully selected representative data – perhaps 0.1% of the data that is in the live system but representative of all possible scenarios.
There are very specific principles to be applied in the selection of this data. Selection of this data will be guided by the Project Facilitator.
1.3 Fully equipped
The laboratory is situated in a permanently assigned, well-appointed and well-furnished room with five to ten high performance workstations, a high performance server, high performance backup device (to permit rapid roll back to previous test states), data projector, flip charts, white board, etc.
1.4 Automated testing software
The laboratory is to be equipped with automated testing software that will permit recording and playback of test scripts.
1.5 Life of project
The laboratory is established at the very start of the project and runs until the Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence environment are fully operational and the system has been fully commissioned.
1.6 Accurately model the real world
All configuration settings are tested in the laboratory until they accurately model the precise desired operation of the business and all required customization and custom development has been comprehensively and rigorously tested and accepted.
Executives and managers must be able to undertake structured facilitated walkthroughs of the laboratory configuration and see their business at all times – if it does not make sense to the executives and / or managers the process stops until the configuration has been modified so that it does make sense to them.
1.7 Break it till it breaks no more
The primary initial goal of the laboratory is to break the configuration and once it cannot be broken to optimize it, document it, develop training material and computer based training material (CBT) in it, use it as a training environment, use it for the testing of reports and establish the Data Warehouse operating against it.
1.8 Business Intelligence Development
A full set of management reports, dashboards, etc are to be developed and tested in the laboratory BEFORE production operation commences.
1.9 Standards, Policies and Procedures
A full set of operational standards, policies and procedures must be developed during the project and embedded in the training given in the laboratory and thereafter.
1.10 Computer Based Training Material
A full set of Computer Based Training material with regard to standard operating practices for all primary areas of business operation that uses the software must be developed in the laboratory and deployed as part of the final deliverable.
1.11 Basis of go-live certificate
The configuration does NOT go-live until it has been comprehensively tested in the laboratory and accepted by all senior project team members.
The go-live certificate will be issued at the end of a structured walkthrough of the entire configuration by the entire top management of the project – this walkthrough may take several days and may have to be suspended several times for adjustments.
If the top team are not satisfied with the results of the walkthrough further walkthroughs, will be held until all members of the top team are willing to accept the configuration.
1.12 Basis of live instance
The laboratory configuration forms the basis of the live instance of the software – the entire configuration is to be copied onto the production server and rigorously tested software used to clear out all transaction data files and reset all counters.
This reset software must be supplied and certified by the software vendor who shall be liable for damages should the reset software be found to be defective.
The final empty configuration will be reviewed and tested during a trial run of the start-up process in the Laboratory.
1.13 Goal of the Laboratory
The goal of the Laboratory is to ensure that the final live installation is an excellent fit to the business, that all staff are properly trained at go-live, that there are no surprises and that there is minimal well managed risk to the business on go-live.
1.14 Bill of Services
More details of the Laboratory are set out in the Bill of Services.
The Laboratory is a well-equipped room with a full installation of all software components in which all aspects of the installation can be effectively tested.
The set-up of the Laboratory must be designed in such a way that all realistic scenarios and operational conditions can be simulated. This may require additional workstations and child Laboratory installations at remote sites in order to fully test the performance of communication, etc at practical levels.
It is important that the workstations, server/s, network operate at peak efficiency so that testing can proceed quickly. Testing relating to workstation, network and server performance must take place as a distinctly separate activity, maximum performance in the Laboratory is vital in order to ensure that testing proceeds as efficiently as possible and takes as little time of business and contractor personnel.
The room must be sufficiently large for an audience to be able to attend walk-throughs and there must be a data projector so that groups of people can participate in walk-throughs.
Other presentation aids such as flip charts and white boards must also be provided.
As noted above the final stage of any aspect of Laboratory operation is the issue of a Certificate of Readiness to Commence Live Operation.
This certificate must be progressively signed by all team members and includes a clear statement that the persons signing the Certificate are fully satisfied that the system is ready to be deployed in the business.
The goal of this certificate is to create a context in which no-one will sign the certificate until they are fully satisfied that the configuration is ready to be commissioned.
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