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If this doesn’t frighten you and/or make you extremely skeptical about so-called ‘experts’ then I don’t know what will, however I promised to tell the story in an earlier post …

Names and places have been removed to protect the innocent.

We were introduced to a large hospital group that was about to implement SAP. The CIO was an ex SAP person, IBM Global Services was the SI and numerous people from SAP were involved in the project;  it was apparently one of the largest implementations to date into a healthcare business and accordingly had a very high profile.

The short answer from our meeting with the CIO was the following:

    • can absolutely see that approaching the implementation this way makes complete sense…
    • ….can completely see how this would help our company…
    • …can’t possibly do it as we’ve already signed the contract with IBM GS and we can’t modify it now

We graciously retreated and waited for them to call back.

18 months later….

IBM GS have gone home with a ‘successful’ implementation to the contracted ‘on-budget, on-time’. The client has been left with a disaster…..

IGM GS have, in their wisdom, decided not too confront the as-is/to-be issue and therefore haven’t actually realized that a hospital is a hospital and the core processes is the same everywhere, PIPOHA (patient in, patient out, hopefully alive). They decided that since there were 9 different regions (same country, same laws, no sound reason for much process variance) they should therefore implement the system in 9 different ways…

Would it be cynical of me to suggest that it was in fact in their interest to do this as it would clearly result in many more chargeable days? (bear in mind that this would have been decided before contract signature and therefore the budget would have reflected this).

Unsurprisingly the call back arrived.

The client invited us back in to try to help sort out the mess as they had a system that nobody was using and had cost multiple millions to implement, (one of the IT group joked: “It’s the most expensive holiday booking system I’ve ever seen”). SAP had given them an estimate of the training rollout which was incredibly time consuming as they had to train differently in each region (it was measured in years!).

In short – Nimbus Control was deployed as a process layer on top of the SAP system displaying end-to-end processes with both the manual and automated steps shown and the training was delivered dramatically faster.

But that’s not really the point of the story.

Had IBM GS actually had the client’s best interests at heart they would have mapped as-is first and would have realized  that each region was in essence the same and that they only needed one instance of SAP to support the whole company.

Of course this would have meant that their consulting days would have reduced dramatically as well…

One Comment

  1. Deja Vu here Mark! Except no one is correcting it out here :)
    They now think the problem is in technology alone! A process improvement is a journey. You must know where you are and then travel to where you want to be!


4 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t more expensive to have the best of all worlds in BPM, either.  It simply is, but with good reason.  Simply jumping to new designs is tempting mostly because there’s so much more W-O-R-K required to know what constitutes the best of both worlds.  To make it just a bit harder, shiny and new (‘to-be’ in business process terminology) is always more attractive and seemingly easier to create than the drudgery of first spelling out the as-is.  The reality is that we can’t know what to keep unless we know what we have.  We need to build on the best of what is already in place.  A very common question in business process consulting is whether or not to capture the as-is, and how much effort to expend on it.  The usual argument is that if we know it isn’t working well, why spend the time?  This argument couldn’t be more wrong. [...]

  2. [...] A very common question in business process consulting is whether or not to capture the as-is, and how much effort to expend on it. The usual argument is that if we know it isn’t working well, why spend the time? This argument couldn’t be more wrong. [...]

  3. [...] the thorny ‘as-is’ vs. ‘to-be’ debate that I’ve weighed in on before as has my colleague Chris [...]

  4. [...] Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t more expensive to have the best of all worlds in BPM, either.  It simply is, but with good reason.  Simply jumping to new designs is tempting mostly because there’s so much more W-O-R-K required to know what constitutes the best of both worlds.  To make it just a bit harder, shiny and new (‘to-be’ in business process terminology) is always more attractive and seemingly easier to create than the drudgery of first spelling out the as-is.  The reality is that we can’t know what to keep unless we know what we have.  We need to build on the best of what is already in place.  A very common question in business process consulting is whether or not to capture the as-is, and how much effort to expend on it.  The usual argument is that if we know it isn’t working well, why spend the time?  This argument couldn’t be more wrong. [...]

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