Consulting Sapphire: creating the obvious


Dealing with the obvious is a cracking good way to break myths, tackle gnarly problems and generally make a dent in the universe. Sometimes the obvious catches people by surprise, other times it delights. It always puts a smile on people’s face. None more so than the other week when I met with Dan Barton who is creating a new consultancy practice for the SAP world. His schtick (among other things) is about making SAP projects accountable. What does he mean? (Check the video above for a more detailed explanation.)

Too often we see projects that are/have/will fail because the moment the contract was signed and the implementatino kick off meeting got under way, two things happened:

  1. The initial business case and ROI calculations were quickly forgotten.
  2. Something changed that blows the project off its intended course.

The first is inexcusable, the second is rarely impossible to contain or prevent. Why?

When management decides to make a software selection it usually does so on the basis of a known pain point. It doesn’t necessarily understand  or know the nuances involved in arriving at their selected solution. This provides the consulting firms with the kind of ‘change order’ bouquet they love to receive. It gets then out of thin margin fixed price deals, allows the reselling of past solutions at ground up development pricing and provides fertile ground for ‘added value.’

Barton doesn’t say his approach can fix all of those issues but he does insist that project management is accountable. It’s obvious yet so rarely done as project leaders become embroiled in the minutiae of delivery.  So if Barton’s model can’t necessarily fix stuff then what’s the point? Simple – learning. SAP is one of those solutions that involves multiple projects, often with similar characteristics. The more that’s learned, explained and documented, the better the chances of avoid future pitfalls.

It is early days but Dan has a strong value proposition and has got contracts in waiting. I wish him well in a world that too often hits the headlines because of failures.

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