Software gone bad? I'm talking about implementations that don't deliver the expected benefits, or have gone astray over time. The result is an unhappy client, frustrated users, and an embarrassed software supplier. I don't sell or recommend systems, so I can say this.
In supply chain projects, these implementations can be very costly. The business benefits on which they were sold will have been significant and the investment sizeable. But there will be no business excellence award for them this year ... or next! What amazes me most is that such situations can go on for years.
The software supplier keeps a low profile because it remains convinced that the software is sound. So if it does nothing; at least it will keep getting the licence revenue even if the client is not a good reference! However, because of the sour relationship, the vendor misses out on revenue from upgrades and additional modules. As for the client, the company tries a different supplier!
An unbelievable attitude when you consider the investments involved. So, what's the problem?
The key lies in an expectation that was summarised to me by a user at a seminar: "We were looking for a software supplier that would challenge us," said this project champion. Luckily for her, they'd found one.
But many clients don't want to be challenged and the supplier won't jeopardise the implementation by trying. Sometimes the supplier does not have the expertise to improve processes anyway. After all, his core skills lie in IT.
We've played the independent mediator in the past, so let's stop blaming the software. The best system cannot overcome fundamental process or cultural issues. Poor stock policies, the focus on the wrong capacity constraints, or the lack of integrated planning and decision making are just a few of the culprits.
Develop business-wide supply chain thinking and your software can support 'best practice' processes. That way lies success ...
Hugh Williams is founder of supply chain planning specialist consultancy Hughenden