Last year I wrote about the problem with the billing system that Johannesburg City Council had implemented. The project, a SAP-based implementation internally called Project Phakama, is in the news again for all the wrong reasons. According to one report, the project has cost the City over R800 million (over $100 million). The situation has reached such a bad state again that there was a report that central government was considering stepping in.
This is obviously a highly strategic and visible project, and it’s not uncommon for these kind of ‘heroic’ projects to have very public bugs. As I mentioned in my previous blog about this project, SAP had won a quality award for it, but has readers of Michael Krigsman’s Project Failure blog will know, the software is only one part of the issue.
In the ‘Billing Crisis’ news report, an opposition spokesman says the problem is that it is a complex system
“…and people have not been properly trained for the system”.
‘The city’s head of finance, Parks Tau, said implementation of the IT project had been completed and that problems with it were “interface-related”.’
So here we have two issues which need to be addressed – people-related, and external systems.
On the one hand, the project owners (City officials) seem to be saying that the project is nearly done. On the other, they don’t appear to have the complex IT project experience to know “What ‘Done’ Looks Like”, to use Glen Alleman’s phrase.
SAP is fortunate that it is not their name that is being publicly criticised, as has happened in other municipal projects.
One thing I am glad about – that I am not the vendor or implementation partner project manager on that project.
Update #1: SAP have distanced themselves from the project – ‘Don’t blame us‘
Update #2: The story behind the project chaos is revealed – The connections that disconnected Joburg
Michael Schrage has written a provoking piece on whether firms will push employees to live brand values into their private, non-work lives. He elaborates in one of the comments:
… if a walmart employee and supplier won’t live the brand commitment by using cfd’s and being a ‘good citizen,’ is walmart entitled to ‘discriminate’ by not offering promotions, bonuses, good reviews, etc….?
… if an employee of an ‘equal rights/diversity’ championing firm is a member of a private club that excludes women and minorities, can the firm choose not to promote that employee – or even fire him?
The issue that such a practice could be an invasion of privacy, or unconstitutional, is raised in the article comments but coming from the US, and the commenters being apparently US-based, I would submit that the view of the workplace as being unregulated is very much a US concept. In more regulated work conditions, such as those in South Africa and several European countries, employment conditions and terms would prevent an employer from forcing its values into areas outside the workplace.
On a different note, the kind of work environment that Schrage envisages sounds more like a ‘Stepford Wives’ community, one which values conformity above everything. The problem with conformity in today’s world is that it does not encourage originality, and it is difference and originality that provides the opportunity for innovation.
Is Schrage’s article really serious, or just a clever argument designed to ridicule the possibility of someone actually coming up with such a proposition?
More from my previous blog site that I am repeating – this blog from February 2006.
This blog entry is prompted by a meeting I had today which involved a representative from a European software company that provides add-on solutions to one of the big international ERP vendors. He seemed perplexed why we are focusing on a deal which we don’t have deep vertical experience in – to the extent that he basically suggested we pull out and give the deal to someone else. I think he got my response pretty clearly.
The question is, can VARs (value added resellers) in smaller economies afford to get focused on specific verticals sectors, which is what our vendor principals would like. My answer is No, we don’t have a market size to support that approach.
For those people who think the mobile phone world is primarily iPhones and Blackberries, there is an article about mobile phone operating system (O/S) market share, based on web usage, which had this graph.
The big future markets of Africa, Asia and South America are very much dominated by Nokia’s Symbian O/S. Does this mean we could end up with a divided market – developed countries on Apple and RIM, developing world on Nokia? And if you are a mobile applications developer, which mobile O/S do you focus your development efforts on?
At the end of December 2010, Gartner published the updated version of the “Magic Quadrant for ERP for Product-Centric Midmarket Companies“, aka the mid-market ERP vendors.
Interesting for me is how Gartner has positioned the ERP mega-vendors – SAP, Oracle, Microsoft – compared to the other vendors.
The stats people at WordPress.com analysed how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:
The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.
A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 6,900 times in 2010. That’s about 17 full 747s.
In 2010, there were 43 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 290 posts. There were 23 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 3mb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.
The busiest day of the year was September 13th with 66 views. The most popular post that day was Outlook users are also Google Calendar users.
Where did they come from?
The top referring sites in 2010 were gmailblog.blogspot.com, twitter.com, fscavo.blogspot.com, manypossibilities.net, and google.co.za.
Some visitors came searching, mostly for tier 2 erp, project server 2010, gartner predictions accuracy, what does pmo mean, and erp gui.
Attractions in 2010
These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.
Outlook users are also Google Calendar users August 2010
Revisiting the Gartner Tier 2 ERP Magic Quadrant October 2009
Google Wave vs. SharePoint May 2010
Project Server 2010 defines its market segment May 2009
Project success or failure: Johannesburg City Council July 2010