It's always nice...
It's always nice to read about a success story. Having led part of a SAP centralisation programme for a global insurer the other thing not to underestimate is backyard politics.
The received wisdom in ERP is that businesses design their processes in the system for everyone to follow. Except they don't. Ten years after implementing SAP ECC worldwide, GSK considered its ERP unification something of a success. But a close analysis of how business processes were actually running revealed that SAP's …
Not remotely surprised. The degree to which management is generally out of touch with what actually happens in the front line is dazzling.
On one assignment I found that what managers thought was "PCI DSS compliance" consisted of filling in the quarterly "progress towards compliance" report without making any investigation - i.e. making it up in a hurry the week before submission, and this had been going on for almost a decade without anyone challenging it (either locally or at the acquiring bank).
On another assignment I found a heap of "policies" including multiple variants of notionally the same documents, some of which included reference to withdrawn standards. However they had all been "reviewed" to schedule - at least going by updates to the version listing on their front pages.
Which is why, when I do BPA I always start in the front line - they know what actually happens.
Incidentally, process mining is not a new rocket science it just BPA done right.
......a while ago, it was common for organisations to hire consultants (you know, the usual suspects, Deloitte, PW, EY....) to charge your organisation a fortune to do the configuration and implementation of SAP (...or PeopleSoft...pick your ERP flavour).
And here we are, much later, getting consultants (guess who) to analyse the implementation and find out just how incoherent the current implementation might be. Shock, horror!!! This needs another fortune to sort out.
So here's my problem with this (recurring) horror story.......what were the senior managers doing while all this was going on?
Could it possibly be that certain senior people were flitting from an ERP vendor to a consultancy, then to a client, then back to the ERP vendor......rinse and repeat.....with ever rising remuneration for "expertise"? Surely not........
There's an xkcd for standards which applies to 'standard' processes as well, although multiplying up to 28,000 of the things is impressive. Anyone who looks at a standard tends to think of a variation they need (want) and following that, it is a short step to multiplication of 'solutions'. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal makes essentially the same point about 'definitions' as applied to Social Sciences, but it is, in my experience, a generally applicable point.
As for BPA analysis, it suffers, like code from premature optimisation. As Donald Knuth famously said in his 1974 ACM Turing Lecture:
The real problem is that programmers have spent far too much time worrying about efficiency in the wrong places and at the wrong times; premature optimization is the root of all evil (or at least most of it) in programming.”
Donald Knuth, Computer Programming as an Art (Communications of the ACM December 1974 Volume 17 Number 12 1974)
Removing flexibility from a process is a premature optimisation. The art of a good analysis is to leave the process flexible enough to cope with its anticipated use-cases (including the rare ones, and reasonable variations), while being standard enough to benefit from efficiencies of scale. If your process is too difficult to use, or can't be used by the users for all the things they need to do, it has failed. There's a great deal more to do than just automating the most frequently used steps and calling it a day. Sadly, that level of facile 'analysis' happens all too often.
But a better question might be: Who's premature optimisation?
Once upon a time, a long time ago, I got to assess three of the "standard process models" being hyped by three suppliers:
The idea behind the SAP and Baan "standard process models" was that instead of configuring the (huge complicated) configuration databases underneath the package, the consultants would review and adjust the process model, and some spiffy software would run against the adjusted process model and spit out the package configuration tables to match.
The Deloitte idea was different. Basically they thought it took too long (really? for consultants?) to build a client specific process model from scratch, so they would turn up and say something like: "Here's a best practice process to use as a starting point for our spiffy new reengineering effort".
Now in all three cases, the process models used as a starting point were created by either:
- software companies pushing their ERP package, or....
- a consultancy promising spiffy "best practices" to the client
In neither case does the client get to say where to start!!!! And the "premature optimisation" has already begun....done by self-proclaimed experts.
Of course, a successful company can't possibly know much about its own successful processes, can it? SAP or Baan or Deloitte (obviously) have much greater "expertise".
......and the beat goes on...................
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Every layer of management wants their own configuration.
Every layer of management has their own favorite consultants on contract.
All the consultants go their separate ways to configure it.
For a company as big as GSK, they're lucky some of the management layers decided to work with what they were given or the results would be even higher.
The Post Office, a UK government-owned company, has awarded SAP a contract worth up to £2 million for software services following a misunderstanding of its SAP licences and service bundles.
A contract award notice issued last week shows the Post Office – which issues postage stamps, manages the postal service, and runs one of Britain's largest network of retailers – handed SAP the deal for implementation, configuration, maintenance, and repair services for its SAP SuccessFactors performance management system.
Analysis Under Nevada's baking summer sunshine, Snowflake last week promised it would bring together two ways of working with data that mix about as well as oil and water.
The data warehouse vendor – well known for its stratospheric $120 billion post-IPO valuation – said it would support both analytics and transactional workloads in the same system.
Launched at the Snowflake Summit 2022 in Vegas, Unistore would be the "foundation for another wave of innovation in the Snowflake Data Cloud," said Christian Kleinerman, senior vice president of product. "Similar to how we redefined data lakes and data warehouses for our customers, Unistore is ushering in a renaissance of building and deploying a new generation of applications in the Data Cloud," he said.
A Ukrainian minister has accused software giant SAP of continuing to operate in Russia despite the German vendor previously vowing to withdraw from the aggressor nation.
In the months following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, SAP attracted criticism as it continued to support installations of its software in Russia and cloud services used by Russian businesses, including state-owned bank Sberbank.
Pressure from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy contributed to the enterprise application provider promising, in late April, to conduct an "orderly exit from… operations in Russia" following a 30-year presence there.
SAP has attempted to energize its annual Sapphire shindig by expounding the virtues of its strategy since €28 billion was wiped off the company's value in 2020 due to the pandemic.
The turnaround plan began with the launch of RISE with SAP, designed to accelerate customers' move to the cloud and its latest S/4HANA ERP platform with the help of global consultancies and cloud hyperscalers.
The German software giant promised customers could hold it to account for the delivery of third-party partners in the package.
Microsoft patched 74 security flaws in its May Patch Tuesday batch of updates. That's seven critical bugs, 66 deemed important, and one ranked low severity.
At least one of the vulnerabilities disclosed is under active attack with public exploit code, according to Redmond, while two others are listed as having public exploit code.
After April's astonishing 100-plus vulnerabilities, May's patching event seems tame by comparison. However, "this month makes up for it in severity and infrastructure headaches," Chris Hass, director of security at Automox, told The Register. "The big news is the critical vulnerabilities that need to be highlighted for immediate action."
SAP is to sell a chunk of its business known as Litmos in a deal reputed to be worth $1 billion.
The German analytics giant has engaged bank Moelis & Co to sell the corporate education software unit to slim down its operations and prioritize cloud-based products.
According to Reuters, the sale of the California-based SaaS company could achieve a price of around $1 billion. An auction process is set to begin in the next couple of weeks with plans to target private-equity funds in the US and Europe.
SAP announced on Tuesday it was exiting Russia after 30 years of operations in the country, leaving on-prem customers with no software support.
“Our hearts and hopes are with the people of Ukraine. More than anything, we want this war to end,” the German software giant declared, referring to Russian president Vladimir Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine, in a canned statement announcing its exit.
SAP paused all Russian sales in early March in accordance with international sanctions. However, the biz faced criticism for still supporting its products in Russia. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy called SAP out in a viral tweet, alongside Microsoft and Oracle, for supporting technology in Russia.
SAP has reaffirmed its 2022 outlook for revenue, despite seeing a €130 million ($141 million) reduction resulting from its decision to withdraw cloud services and on-prem software support from Russian customers.
The German application software giant saw revenue hit €7.1 billion ($7.7 billion) in the first quarter, up 11 percent on €6.3 billion ($6.8 billion) a year earlier. Meanwhile, operating profit climbed 10 percent to €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion).
However, SAP's performance has been hit by its decision to withdraw business in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.
Feature Like so many stories in the history of computing, it involves Xerox. Scientific Data Systems was sold by Xerox to IBM as part of a hardware deal. When Big Blue canned a related software project, a group of five German engineers saw an opportunity.
Dietmar Hopp, Klaus Tschira, Hans-Werner Hector, Hasso Plattner, and Claus Wellenreuther, all from Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, thought that businesses would be able to see functional company data as they are working, rather than waiting for hours for punchcards to be punched and read as was the fashion at the time. On April 1, 1972, SAP was born.
Celebrating its 50th birthday, the German company is now the largest European business technology firm and, until recently, the highest valued company on the German stock exchange.
The majority of UK and Ireland SAP users are finding a lack of preparedness in data management is affecting migrations from SAP ECC 6.0 to SAP S/4HANA and/or a push towards automating business processes.
According to a survey of 116 SAP user organizations, 61 percent said that data management challenges have slowed or will slow the automation of their business processes. Meanwhile, two-thirds (66 percent) state that data management is a challenge when moving from SAP ECC 6.0 to SAP S/4HANA, the study by the UK and Ireland SAP User Group (UKISUG) found.
The general state of enterprise data housekeeping is exposed when organizations tackle strategic projects, said UKISUG chairman Paul Cooper.
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