Lidl Sapped

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by Wheels-Of-Fire 3 months ago.

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  • #23198

    Ed P
    Participant
    @edps

    Probably only of interest to people who have been IT professionals and know about SAP, But Lidl have been forced to kiss goodbye to half a billion euros because they were unable to successfully introduce a comprehensive new software package by SAP.

    Typically a SAP system attempts to address the whole IT needs of a company ranging from the minutia of the General Ledger, through the whole business/accounting life cycle e.g. purchasing, order entry, inventory control, point of sales, VAT, tax etc right on up to Management Information Systems, and not forgetting all the associated Audit needs.

    To put it mildly it is a ball-breaking task, and becomes orders of magnitude harder for multi-nationals. At least UK Government Inc can now take a little comfort that their failing Digital Government System is not the only one in failure mode!

    ” Because the introduction of a new data system did not work out, Deutsche Post already had to record a high loss several years ago. The same thing (has) happened to Lidl. After seven years and costs of more than half a billion euros, the planned system is still not running smoothly. Now the discounter has pulled the ripcord.” Google Translation from the German.

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  • #23199

    Dave Rice
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    @ricedg
    Forumite Points: 1,190

    SAP professionals don’t come cheap.

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    #23200

    Ed P
    Participant
    @edps
    Forumite Points: 1,961

    Very true — the SAP people who write ABAPS (sort of macros within the table driven SAP system) were humongously expensive. The loot was so attractive that some of our best people learned to write ABAPs and then joined the ranks of highly paid consultants.

    It isn’t just programmers who are in demand as the REAL art is management of the Business Users and showing them how small changes in work practices could save tens/hundreds of thousands in not customising the software.However to do that successfully the whole project has to be led by someone who can take no prisoners right across the Corporate infrastructure even up to Board Level. It needs someone with huge cojones and intestinal fortitude to fulfil that role, and it needs an equally skilled (überaus expensive) consultant to mentor the non IT business-side SAP Project leader and guide him/her through the long and arduous process.

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    #23203

    Richard
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    @sawboman
    Forumite Points: 1,417

    I know someone who did just that; once.

    He had skills in a number of pies but getting the business ducks in a line, then giving them the required swimming lessons was an arduous task, but they were proud of doing it under budget within the project time frame and to the general business satisfaction. Anyone less motivated than Attila the Hun or Genghis Khan, or without the leadership dynamics required should really not apply. They did not say too much about the need to import specialist skills, but any short cuts there are likely to be expensive in project terms.

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    #23205

    Ed P
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    @edps
    Forumite Points: 1,961

    The guy crocodile who managed this role for my old company terrified many of his staff and the rest of his Board (he was a main Board member).  Whenever it was required he took no prisoners, and happily browbeat or undermined any he saw standing in his way. Any IT Pro attempting to use technical BS as a stall soon got caught and out on their ears. This mix of qualities is unfortunately rare.

    The entire job went on in phases for years around the world, but he managed to successfully pass on his role after four  as he had established sensible working ground rules that no-one dared question. (He went to an even bigger job within the company)

    I’m afraid when systems are introduced that cut across many territories/disciplines (the NHS for example), mega projects such as this can only succeed when headed up by a person with intelligence, drive, stature and a desire to absorb and process technical information.

    I would guess that Lidl failed because they heaped the job on an IT pro who lacked stature and political nous. All the interested groups then sat back sniping at him.It is a job better filled by a non-IT person, with the IT Pro as deputy/advisor.

    SAP has the capability of running the IT for such a system, but failure is usually user led.

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    #23207

    JayCeeDee
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    @jayceedee
    Forumite Points: 775

    The NHS is a nightmare IT-wise. My son works as a Project Manager/ScrumMaster for a company that the NHS has contracted to, to develop some software systems.

    At this point they have had to lay off developers – and my son’s contract renewal in October is in doubt – as the NHS cannot react to requests for detail/info/parameters/work in a timely fashion, and, unbeleivably, have tried to write penalty clauses into the long term contract, for failure to meet their project dates!!!

    It just beggars belief!!

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    #23208

    Ed P
    Participant
    @edps
    Forumite Points: 1,961

    I can believe it JCD, it took us years to find out that failures are more often caused by poor user commitment and non-essential ‘nice to haves’, than anything else.

    I look at some of the modern development methods such as ‘Agile Development’ with horror. I translate them to as ‘Users can’t be bothered to define an overall strategy for what they need, sling something together to see if they like it!’.

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    #23209

    JayCeeDee
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    @jayceedee
    Forumite Points: 775

    Unfortunately the “old days” of an all round education have been substituted for degrees in “x” but no common-sense/broad perspective in sight! The opportunity to have a team that can be left to it’s own devices and produce timely results is long gone. Hence the need for everything to be compartmentalised into two week “Scrums” by someone who can pull it all together. Still, I suppose it gives my son the chance to earn some bl**dy good money!😋😆

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    #23212

    The Duke
    Moderator
    @sgb101
    Forumite Points: 1,701

    Jcd, I don’t think in this department you can do with Jack of all trades, you need professionals. The issues come in with the likes of SAP when two complex or even 3 may be 4. Programing, it, business needs and accountancy, all complex roles that need to be achieved in one system.

    This means lots of bodies all trying to tell the designer (programmer) what they need from the set up, and the programmer having to find solutions that pass all the regs and meet the need of the customer.

    Non are trades you can half know and muddle along in. Maybe 30 years ago, you could get away with it, but not now. Then you could probably use just access and a book keeper. Now it’s a mine field.

    Not to mention people in high tecky roles can’t explain stuff to people that arnt in their line of work. Try and explain htlm to your wife. I struggle to tech my wife how to use her androd phone. And for the first 6 years of Android, I was like the go to Android guy. What you think is simple to the person your telling rarely precise it that way

    Then in business getting the data and simple info your require, can be pita. Not to mention everyone in the chain is trying to protect their own arse, rather than the overall objective.

    This is why large scale it project often cost 5x the original cost, and still fall short and fail.

    We here have some degree of knowalge on programing, and we see these things as relatively simple concepts. It’s the details, and (lack of) communication that screws these projects.

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    #23217

    Dave Rice
    Moderator
    @ricedg
    Forumite Points: 1,190

    I was working at CSC when the NHS project failed and CSC got the blame. The Govt put up many different heads that rotate around and are usually looking at it as a stepping stone, not to see the project through. Goal posts change regularly and are never well defined. Politics is rife.

    Look at the mess Universal Credit is becoming. Every knee jerk change in policy has to somehow flow through and quickly to the back end.

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    #23218

    Ed P
    Participant
    @edps
    Forumite Points: 1,961

    The SAP ‘philosophy’ if that is the right word, is not user driven. It is purely a software package system, and if you want an on-time, on-budget project the company needs to take all the packages with as little modification as possible.

    It has obviously evolved over time and I can only talk to SAP R/3 or SAP ERP but essentially the idea in those days was take the package and modify your internal business systems to fit.  Wherever possible we tried to use an experienced Internal Auditor as a Project or Business Phase Manager. Not only did these people know their accounting and business systems, they had a good handle on data/information flows and associated controls for the business. In essence it was their job to mash the Business System to conform with that of SAP, others would support them in selling these changes to the appropriate Business Managers. Life was deliberately made difficult for those asking for program changes or ABAPs.

    Although strictly speaking an Auditor is not a Jack of All Trades, a good one can come pretty close. I also loved the thought of turning Gamekeepers into Poachers! They were not good at writing ABAPs or data interfaces but they were very good on the Business Side and translating standard SAP into business practices.

    SAP like many systems is now Cloud or Enterprise Cloud based. My guess is that this has not changed the basic affiliate accounting elements in SAP too much but no doubt it has made some of the global Enterprise interfacing a horribly complex business, which is where Duke’s IT professionals come into their own element.

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 1 week ago by Ed P.
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    #23301

    Wheels-Of-Fire
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    @grahamdearsley
    Forumite Points: 703

    I nearly got SAPed starting in 2001 when I worked for Siemens. They tried to change the working practices of the maintenance department to fit a SAP module but it turned out the module did not fit our contractual obligations. When I left in 2003 the roll out was on hold for the foreseeable future.

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    #23304

    Wheels-Of-Fire
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    @grahamdearsley
    Forumite Points: 703

    Prior to that I got COMMITted by our own IT department. The aim of the COMMIT program was to standardise laptops and their software across the company. When I got my COMMIT PC I found I had been assigned a fixed, static IP address. Wonderful for connecting to the company network, useless for connecting to the equipment I was ment to be maintaining.

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