The ERP Doctor – ERP Troubleshooting and Turnaround

> Our Services > ERP Troubleshooting and Turnaround

Diagnose, Fix and Optimize your Business Systems

For many years DR JAMES A ROBERTSON has been diagnosing why ERP investments are failing or under performing and prescribing how to turn those projects around and leading delivery - that expertise is available to you today.

Diagnose, Fix and Optimize your Business Systems

A badly implemented ERP or other business information system can drive inefficiencies, result in loss of customers and in extreme cases can bankrupt the business – see examples below where I discuss a few examples of ERP issues that I have resolved.  Special offer of £2,000 for two day investigation with definitive diagnosis and prescription of treatment.

1. Fragrance importer and distributor with SysPro ERP and companion WMS

I met, Robert, the CEO and part owner of a firm of fragrance importers and distributors, at a lecture I gave on the strategic application of ERP and why ERP investments failed at a part time MBA course at a high profile business school.

Robert had an ERP implementation with companion Warehouse Management System (WMS) that had failed and needed it turned around urgently.  He asked me to make his ERP a “strategic weapon” in line with my lecture.  The ERP was Syspro a popular tier 2 ERP.

I undertook a short investigation and established that the failure resulted from governance issues on the part of both implementers and the client.  I was asked to lead the turnaround which I accepted subject to:

    1. Working closely with the CEO and the CEO attending all key meetings and being available whenever I needed him – I copied him with every email.
    2. The CEO of the ERP implementers attending weekly project meetings in person and being involved as necessary to steer his side of the project.
    3. A director of the WMS implementers to do the same.

This was all agreed and I took on the high level management of the new project and turned the situation around to successful implementation in five months.

In the process, I applied my “precision configuration” techniques to develop a highly structured “Product Class” hierarchy and other precision validation tables.  The product class, which ended up being a “Brand Hierarchy”, provided the logic for me to specify and have developed some bespoke software to manage the capture of new products with very precise control.  This, in turn, opened the door for further bespoke software to automatically generate a marketing project in the Projects Module of the ERP with 29 highly structured marketing expense heads for each Brand Line, about 550 items.  This was used by the Brand Managers to plan and manage their marketing campaigns on a monthly year by year basis.

The end result of this was that a  year after the highly successful go-live the client was able to secure Dior as a represented brand with an immediate 12% upturn in revenue because my client could do things no other distributor could do in terms of managing the marketing of the brand.

I also assisted the client to develop a highly structured Cubic Business Model Chart of Accounts.

Testimonial by Sean Stuttaford, CEO of the above ERP Implementation Company

Following the above highly successful ERP turnaround I built a strong relationship with the Implementers based on the value I had added and they took on board many of my methods and engaged me to work with them for a number of major clients, including a major food manufacturer and distributor and a major engine block manufacturer.  Sean, the CEO, had this to say in a formal testimonial:

“This … serves to confirm that I have known Dr James Robertson … We met at a mutual client where my company was implementing a new ERP system. James joined the project at the invitation of the client to assist with his strategic approach to the implementation as well as perform a project management role. I consider this period, my biggest learning experience in terms of how to successfully implement an ERP system.

“My first reaction to the Dr Robertson’s approach was confusion and resistance, however after a short period of working on this initial project together and finally understanding his approach, particularly how it could substantially improve my company’s success rate, I bought in and imbedded his principles into my organisation. Since then I have applied his philosophies in the organisations I lead.

“Following the initial project we undertook with Dr Robertson our company applied his principles on new projects resulting in a far greater percentage of successful projects and customers who got what they expected.

“At all times I have found James to be reliable, hard-working and dedicated to ensuring that he achieves the results he promises. His engineering background supports the attention to detail he achieves in his projects and the logical approach to his work.

“I would recommend James to an organisation in need of a person who is extremely skilled at rescuing a failed project or assisting a company in need of improvement in order to make decisions which will ensure its future success or extract new value from the organisation.”

For £2,000 in two days I will give you an informed opinion with regard to why your system is not meeting your expectations with a formal letter report setting out critical findings and critical recommendations in business language that you will be able to act on.

2. International Mining Company Running SAP R/3

Another example – stark contrast – SAP R/3 ERP (Big SAP), world leading product, reputable implementers.  Running live across two mines on opposite sides of the planet.  Running on spreadsheets because the ERP was such a mess. 

 

Chief Executive said to me “Dr Robertson, I have one tunnel and they cannot tell me how much it is costing to develop that tunnel, in a year I am scheduled to have thirty tunnels, what am I to do?”.

 

I found a massive chart of accounts about which the big brand software company said “xxx is so powerful it can handle this” when in fact it was just about the most badly designed chart of accounts I had ever seen and was at the heart of the problem.  The company had retained a Chartered Accountant who had been unable to get the Balance Sheet to balance after six months of hard work.

 

I recommended reimplementation with a highly engineered chart of accounts and other improvements. There was huge potential.  The operations executive got between me and the CEO and decided that this was too radical to tell the shareholders and that they should rather go for a limited scope remediation.  A few months later the company was bankrupt which was sad because I could have turned it around in months.

 

Vital to understand that a bad ERP implementation can literally trash an otherwise strong business!

For £2,000 in two days I will give you an informed opinion with regard to why your system is not meeting your expectations with a formal letter report setting out critical findings and critical recommendations in business language that you will be able to act on.

3. Fertilizer Manufacturer with major issues with BPCS ERP

High levels of Executive frustration with incumbent BPCS ERP and associated custom development.  Strong sentiment to scrap the software even though it had only been recently implemented with a considerable investment.  Implementation included Warehouse Management and Manufacturing as well as ERP, financials, etcetera.

In one week I established that the software was not a good strategic fit to the business such that the custom development outside the software was necessary but was seriously complicated as a consequence of an unwise “zero customization in the software” policy that had seriously complicated fitting the software to the business.

I also found that the bad attitude at the management level was in part due to an extremely toxic attitude on the part of the IT Manager and partly due to extremely bad communication between the technical team and management.

In a further two weeks I undertook a comprehensive audit of what was required to remediate the system and submitted a detailed report on what needed to be done.

I then facilitated a decision in which the CEO took personal charge of the system and issued a formal policy decision that the system would not be replaced and that all staff were required to “make it work”.

I assisted management in a decision to replace the IT Manager.

I facilitated a discussion with the software providers where the client secured a five year support contract on the existing software with customization’s with the right to renew.  The system lasted for another eight years before being replaced with SAP R/3.

4. Transport customer with specialist industry requirements

The client was battling with a bespoke solution that had been in process for eighteen months and was going nowhere.  The software company kept blaming the business.

In two days I identified that the software company did not understand the business and were insistent on a solution that was totally inappropriate.  I advised the client to terminate the project and go out to tender for a new system.  The CEO of the client stated at this point “… after 18 months we still did not have a solution … they kept blaming us … after engaging Dr James within 48 hours we had got our head around what the issues were … totally inappropriate solution … we knew what the way forward … for the first time in 18 months there was clarity of vision regarding what had to be done

I drafted a detailed set of tender documents including a seventy page Request for Proposal using my standard document pack and we went out to tender, which I facilitated, appointing a software company with a transport industry specific product that was an excellent fit.

For £2,000 in two days I will give you an informed opinion with regard to why your system is not meeting your expectations with a formal letter report setting out critical findings and critical recommendations in business language that you will be able to act on.

5. Just-In-Time Chemicals Distributor with JD Edwards

Another example: After go-live and because of issues with the new JD Edwards ERP implementation my client lost its biggest customer with two more major rumoured to be on the point of leaving. 

The client was an importer and distributor of industrial chemicals suppling large “just -in-time” manufacturing clients..  They implemented a JD Edwards, a leading brand, implemented by one of the ‘Big Four’ global consultancies. Yet, their service promise had been trashed – “order in by 3 pm, delivery by 10 am next business day” had turned into delivery in two to three business days.  They fired the implementers and hired another big name implementer but the problems continued. 

I accurately diagnosed the root cause of the problem in two days – the ERP and WMS (warehouse management system) were not correctly integrated and data was being transferred between the systems manually, load planning was also being done manually.  The business was traumatized and losing money. 

The implementers could not tell me why the system was performing the way it was and, more importantly, they could not tell me how to fix it.  The previous ERP was still in use in the other division of the business having served the business faithfully for many years.  The only reliable solution was to revert to the old system. 

The customer did this in six weeks and the service promise was once more fulfilled and the business turned around!  One of the executives of the client subsequently told me “that (abandoning the new system) was the best business decision we have ever taken”.  This is not about a regressive leaning to old technology it is about finding an emergency business solution that was 100% reliable at very short notice before more customers left!

 

The REAL Challenge

The challenge with ERP and other business systems is not the technology, or the fit of the technology to the industry, it is about the decisions taken during the implementation that get in the way of the business.  This includes issues such as executive custody, strategic alignment, precision of configuration and similar matters.  In fact, the factors that give rise to ERP and other business system non-performance are more to do with psychology than they are to do with technology or industry.  See the articles “The critical factors causing ERP and other strategic project investment failure” and “The critical factors for ERP and other strategic project success” which graphically evidence that the success of ERP and other business information system investments is not a function of technology or industry but of issues like governance, strategic alignment, configuration precision and the like – effectively they are issues of psychology.

For £2,000 in two days I will give you an informed opinion with regard to why your system is not meeting your expectations with a formal letter report setting out critical findings and critical recommendations in business language that you will be able to act on.

6. Financial Services company with Bespoke ERP

Another example – the client was a niche player with an industry specific business information system in which they had invested considerable sums.  The system kept falling over and losing data and the business was at serious risk.  The consensus was that the software was decrepit and the only solution was to fire the developers, trash the system and start again. 

In  two days I diagnosed the root cause of the problem – the Human Resources Director, who had been made responsible for the system about six months previously, was completely lacking in technical insight and was aggressive in his ignorance – all he knew was not to spend money. 

Despite the fact that the business had doubled in size he refused to invest in new hardware with the result that storage and memory limits were constantly being hit resulting in the software crashing and data being corrupted.  The software company were struggling to keep the system running. 

The HR Director was blaming the software company to the point where the software company was on the point of quitting and the situation had degenerated to a point where a civil conversation was all but impossible.  I concluded that the business was facing the potential of catastrophic collapse of their systems!

I advised the Managing Director and owner of the business of the findings and advised that:

 

  1. He personally take over governance of the system.

 

  1. Immediately initiate emergency procurement of new servers.

 

  1. Initiate emergency negotiations with the software company to heal the relationship.

 

The issue was partially resolved within a week and fully resolved within a month. 

I can help you!

If any of these scenarios looks in any way familiar, I can help you!

For £2,000 in two days I will give you an informed opinion with regard to why your system is not meeting your expectations with a formal letter report setting out critical findings and critical recommendations in business language that you will be able to act on.

Notice that none of the failures relate to defective software or industry related issues, they all result from other factors, that I have referred to as “ERP Psychology” – the manner in which human beings implement, manage and operate the software.

It is important to recognize that there is a substantial body of opinion, Gartner included, that indicates that somewhere between 75% and 95% of ERP and other business information system investments “fail to deliver what was promised”.  I have validated this statistic independently.   The challenge is that very few people know how to really resolve this!  The fact that this statistic has hardly changed in twenty years validates this statement!

I say with confidence that I CAN turn your situation around!

Then there is the problem of denial!  Many people do not want to truly admit that their ERP or other system is costing much more to run than expected, is not giving them the business benefits that they based their buying decision on and is, just simply, a huge disappointment

This is not helped by ERP marketing that suggests that only brand X can solve your problems after you have invested a huge amount in brand Y.  As with the Mining House example, there is also the unwillingness to admit to the shareholders that the company has messed up, notwithstanding that this can cost the shareholders their entire investment.

Divorce seem inevitable?

Are you approaching the point where divorce seems inevitable but you are not sure it will be any better next time round?

Contact Me

If these stories speak to your ERP nightmares, let’s talk. Our initial meeting on Zoom comes with no strings attached. Please click the button below to arrange a complimentary, no obligation, call to discuss your situation.

For £2,000 in two days I will give you an informed opinion with regard to why your system is not meeting your expectations with a formal letter report setting out critical findings and critical recommendations in business language that you will be able to act on.

 

Dr James A Robertson

The ERP Doctor

  1.   Executives can get the information they need from the ERP when they need it (this is not a technology issue) – “answers to the questions I have not yet thought to ask”.
  2. The ERP enables the business to run the way the leadership wants. (again not a technology issue).
  3. The ERP models every aspect of the business and is totally integrated.
  4. The ERP runs smoothly, with very little technology operational management, entirely reliable and dependable.
  5.  Reports are available at a touch of a button and do not require expensive consultants to generate and maintain.
  6.  Different reports on the same data all correlate and agree without human intervention.
  7. The ERP assists the business to run efficiently and effectively.
  8. The ERP supports differentiation and is strategically aligned with the essence of the business.
  9.  The business is more profitable after the commissioning of the ERP.

Getting to yes

If you cannot say an unequivocal “yes” to all the above points you need to talk to me.

Technology is seldom a factor in getting to “yes” on the above points and that includes which ERP you are using.  Strategically implemented using my methods, just about any ERP is capable of delivering the above outcomes.

In my career I have conducted dozens of diagnostic “Pulse Measurements”, short, sharp light touch investigations to diagnose why ERP implementations were not delivering and in some cases were trashing the business.  The output is a concise report listing seven critical findings diagnosing the problems being experienced and seven critical recommendations prescribing the required actions to remediate.

This report is concise, in plain English, easily understood by executives, and actionable!

In some cases I have turned around situations that have dragged the business down for months in as little as two days.

I offer a full range of advisory services with regard to actioning my recommendations.  This ranges from high level light touch advisory to full blown strategic project leadership in which I take over the project and run it in close consultation with management until the system is fully commissioned and delivering required benefits.

In the extreme case where it really IS necessary to abandon the existing system I will take you through a comprehensive, well-honed process based on Engineering practice to produce a comprehensive tender pack.  This includes a proven “Request for Proposal” of 40 to 50 pages.  This is supported by a full pack of supporting documentation that comprehensively documents the project. This  enables you to have a robust, enforceable contract that protects the business to the maximum extent possible.  This includes an enforceable fixed price and comprehensive specification of how the project is to be run.  This approach is geared to putting the interests of the client first while being fair to the ERP implementer.

Considerations

The ERP Doctor has over thirty years of experience troubleshooting and diagnosing failed and sub-optimal ERP implementations and leading turnaround projects.  More details on the website.

If you have an ERP that is not meeting your requirements in any shape or form the ERP Doctor can help you by troubleshooting the situation and then facilitating turnaround.

In as little as two days the ERP Doctor can troubleshoot and diagnose the root causes of an under-performing ERP and tell you what is required to remediate the situation to achieve turnaround.  All in language that any Business Executive can understand.  We then offer a full spectrum of services in terms of strategic project leadership, tough tender based procurement and precision configuration to deliver the turnaround with a high value outcome that enhances competitiveness and profitability.

The ERP Doctor draws on over thirty years’ experience of troubleshooting and turnaround of ERP’s and has a large catalogue of experience that he applies in diagnosis.  He does this by holding up the symptoms of your ERP non-performance situation to troubleshoot the root causes of the problem and tell you quickly and concisely in language you understand exactly why your system is not meeting expectations.  He draws on this same body of experience to tell you what is required for turnaround of your system.

Benefits

Benefits of engaging with the ERP Doctor with regard to your ERP issues include:

1.The ERP Doctor’s extensive experience ensures a fast and accurate diagnosis of the root causes of your ERP issues – saves time and money, clear understanding of what is required to rectify the situation in as little as two days – peace of mind.

2.  Concise report on completion of the engagement, that is at the end of the two days, setting out the plus / minus seven Critical Findings weighted in terms of relative importance in causing the problems and plus / minus seven Key Recommendations weighted in terms of relative importance in terms of what is required to resolve the problems – language you can  understand and actions you can take immediately – clarity and peace of mind and ability to take immediate action.

3.  The ERP Doctor provides comprehensive services to execute his recommendations ranging from light touch high level advisory through to strategic project team leadership – hands on management of your remediation or re-implementation project scaled to meet your exact requirements – clear view of what is required and peace of mind that you have an expert managing your project.

4.  The ERP Doctor provides a comprehensive, robust procurement service that ensures that all issues relating to client interests are taken into account and the resulting contract is robust and fully safeguards the client’s interests – cost effective, minimized risk, fixed price, peace of mind that you have a comprehensive process that you fully understand and agree with and a resulting contract you are comfortable with and understand.

Testimonials

  • Managing Director of a medium sized Transport Contractor:

    “… after 18 months we still did not have a solution … they kept blaming us … after engaging Dr James within 48 hours we had got our head around what the issues were … totally inappropriate solution … we knew what the way forward … for the first time in 18 months there was clarity of vision regarding what had to be done”

  • Sean Stuttaford, CEO of an ERP Implementer

    “Following the initial project we undertook with Dr Robertson our company applied his principles on new projects resulting in a far greater percentage of successful projects and customers who got what they expected.

    “At all times I have found James to be reliable, hard-working and dedicated to ensuring that he achieves the results he promises. His engineering background supports the attention to detail he achieves in his projects and the logical approach to his work.

    “I would recommend James to an organisation in need of a person who is extremely skilled at rescuing a failed project or assisting a company in need of improvement in order to make decisions which will ensure its future success or extract new value from the organisation.”

  • Paul Leigh, CIO of National Agricultural products company:

    “I am writing to recommend Dr James Robertson to any organisation that needs to rescue a project gone wrong, or indeed to manage any project with a high risk profile or need for rapid delivery. There are projects where an ordinary project manager will do. But if you have a challenging project on your hands, Dr Robertson is your man.”

Frequently Asked Questions

I need an expert in my ERP software to fix the problem.

The issues giving rise to problems are almost always independent of the technology and generally relate to strategy, governance, configuration and other soft business issues – which is precisely why tech people make mistakes.  So detailed knowledge of the particular software product is not required.  Further, the ERP Doctor has a solid grounding in software fundamentals so is able to quickly and accurately understand any software product to the extent necessary to diagnose your issues and manage remediation.  The ERP Doctor can speak business speak to business executives and tech speak to technical personnel.

I need someone who knows my industry to fix the problem.

The issues giving rise to problems are almost always independent of the industry and generally relate to strategy, governance, configuration and other soft business issues – which is precisely why industry specialist people make mistakes.  So detailed knowledge of the particular industry is not required.  Further, the ERP Doctor has a solid grounding in business, economics and management so is able to quickly and accurately identify any issues that relate to the business to the extent necessary to diagnose your issues and manage remediation.  The ERP Doctor has advised clients in a wide diversity of industries and can engage with the business in a relevant and appropriate manner while being able to speak tech speak to technical personnel.

Why have I not heard of the ERP Doctor before?

Dr Robertson immigrated to the UK from South Africa and through lack of contacts in the UK economy it has taken some time for him to reach a point where he has visibility in the market.

How much will this cost me?

As indicated above, the ERP Doctor can frequently accurately diagnose the root cause of the issues in a two day engagement so the cost of the initial investigation is very modest.

I would like to get a feel for this before I commit.

We offer a complimentary (free) one hour Zoom consultation so you can meet the ERP doctor and form an opinion as to whether you can work with him.  Click on the link below to contact us.

This sounds too good to be true, we have been battling with this for a long time.

The ERP Doctor brings Engineering, Military and Economics grounding and disciplines to his work and has been providing ERP troubleshooting and turnaround services to clients for over thirty years.  As a consequence he has a substantial portfolio of knowledge and experience that he can compare  your situation against thereby jumping rapidly to diagnosis, in much the same way that an experienced medical practitioner quickly and accurately diagnoses most health conditions.

What if the ERP Doctor does not reach a definitive conclusion in two days?

Sometimes it may prove necessary for the ERP Doctor to engage for more than two days but in this case the decision will be taken in close consultation with your CEO or other sponsoring executive.

What impact will this investigation have on my business?

The ERP Doctor requires a one  hour briefing with your CEO at the start of the investigation and wrap up touch base meetings with the CEO morning and evening of each day on site.  In addition he will require one hour one on one meetings with each of your executive team and with the personnel who are directly involved in the operation of the system as well as with the firm that implemented the software.  In all cases we are looking at one to two hour maximum interactions with any particular person.

Why does the ERP Doctor require so much time with the CEO?

The CEO is the custodian of the integrated holistic view of the business, the system in question touches the integrated view of the business, accordingly the ERP Doctor holds that the CEO must be the custodian of the ERP.

Investigation Workflow:

1. Sponsoring executive — initial one-hour briefing with the sponsoring executive – ideally the CEO.

2. Executive interviews — one hour one on one interviews with each member of the client executive team to understand the business and understand the concerns and issues as well as critical success factors for success with regard to the system.

3. Operational management — further interviews with operational management, consultants and service providers as recommended by the executive team to ensure concise but comprehensive analysis of the real issues and root cause.

4. Hands-on — hands-on inspection of the system in question seeking to understand the root cause of every issue raised in the interviews – takes place against many years experience and many investigations and turnarounds. Further investigation of issues identified in the steps above.

5. Referred to experience — the observations made above are held up against the in-depth experience of the ERP Doctor leading to a Critical Issues analysis of findings and allocation of relative weights with regard to contribution to the reported issues.

6. Critical issues — critical issue analysis of recommendations and allocation of relative weight in terms of actions to remediate the situation.

7. Concise report — letter report presented to the sponsoring executive – where possible this is completed on the last day of the investigation so that action can be taken immediately.

8. Optional executive presentation — optionally formal presentation of findings and recommendations to the executive team with context slides.

9. Optional implementation advisory — optionally ongoing advisory and oversight of implementation of the recommendations.

We look forward to being of service to your organization.

Complimentary one-hour consultation at your convenience

We would like to invite you to a Zoom call with The ERP Doctor at your convenience for a one hour no obligation consultation to discuss your ERP issues.  We are confident that this one hour call will give you a really good idea of whether we can assist you or not.

Please click on the button below:

We look forward to hearing from you.