Six Sigma : A PM's prespective

Friday, April 29, 2011

Some time back, I had a opportunity to present to my peers in the organization about Six - Sigma, based on my knowledge.

Many of you might be aware that large manufacturing companies do follow the six sigma methodologies towards continuous improvement of their operation. These companies use six sigma methodologies for executing their project.

If you are hearing about Six sigma quality initiative for the first time, then probably my presentation might useful to know what is six-sigma in brief from a project manager's prespective, I have also made an attempt to compare Six sigma with PMBOK (Project Management body of knowledge). Hope its interesting...

I found a business week article published some time back that interested me. I always thought that one cannot follow six sigma blindly, statistical methods are important, so is creativity and making judgment based on a situation after quicly analysing the facts.

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Assembly OR Parliament .... Do we know the candidate's background?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Being a weekend was a beach, as I stroll past a group of senior citizen the discussion was around the politics, the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s political scenario was flashing through their speech. The talk was about how simple the politician those days and how they were all glued to All India Radio when election announcement were made.

I could hear discussion getting into the candidates in fray for election in that particular assembly, each one commenting about the candidate on his own knowledge his \her age, business, assets and what he has done and so on...

To be very frank, if any one asks me about the back ground of the candidate in fray in my assembly segment, I would not know. Well, how do I? They were all selected by their party’s high command. But then the question ultimately is, we, the people select candidate for particular assembly segment. Yes, popular promises are made by candidate, however the candidate ability or approach are important if these promises are to turned into reality, this is where I believe candidate background would play an important role.

This assembly election at Tamil Nadu was different, there were stringent condition imposed by Election Commission which made common man happier. At same time, I understand while making nomination some background details are provided by candidate. I feel these background details, should be published in election commission web site and displayed in voting booth as well, so that the common man is aware of the candidate background.

A person’s background is checked before he is recruited by corporate. This being the case, the background of the candidate who is aspiring to be a people representative should have his background checked or at least his background related to education, yearly earning, police verification and records, asset and liabilities details along with salary offered and perks provided can be published, so that common man is kept well informed about his or potential representative.

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Factors which influence the success of ERP project implementation - Part 3

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The post is continuation of my earlier post (Part 1) and (Part 2) on the same subject. We will now look at other few factors.

Phase 3:

Business Process Engineering or Re-engineering: An ERP system has to be configured to work as per expectation. The business processes have to be mapped to ERP product and set up have to be configured. The process of requirement gathering towards set up requires coordinated effort between functional consultant and the business process area owners through workshops. An iterative approach needs to be followed, meaning the system has to be set up 2 to 3 times to map the requirement and refined if needed, before actually performing the set up in production system. Such iterative approaches of mapping business to systems are referred as ‘Conference room pilots’ (CRP). Data migration from legacy system and their strategy, Interfaces to feeder system needs to defined and agreed up and tested.

Training: At times, training to end user is overlooked. Inadequate training is the one of the cause for bottleneck in training. If possible it’s better to work out a strategy for measuring the training effectiveness. There are some thoughts that training can be done towards production move. But, its better training is provided from the stage of defining business process, so that even if there is a change in business process user can appreciate the changes.

Support team & cut over planning: It equally critical, plan is also worked out for the support team to be in place post go-live. Normally Implementation team would be handing over to the support team. The support team is either in-house or out sourced. Cut over planning means the activities that would be carried out by the time users stops entering into the legacy system and the time by which user starts using new ERP system. Effort also need to put towards cut over planning particularly, the activities as how reconciliation of legacy and new ERP system would be performed post Go-Live and as what are the activities, which would be performed during the cut over period with assigned owner to each task.

Go-Live and beyond: Beyond go – live, there is a certain period, which is required towards stabilization of the system. It’s also easier said than done. Though these can be guidelines for a general scenario, each of the ERP project are unique has its own challenges and situation changes based on various factors, this is where project managers and PMO can play a vital role in steering the project to safety and thereby achieve the end objective of a successful implementation.

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Factors which influence the success of ERP project implementation - Part 2.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The post is continuation of my earlier post (Part 1) on the same subject The first 3 factors are can be considered as Phase1, the below mentioned factors can be towards Phase 2.

‘One Team’: Once it’s decided to go in for ERP, the next step is to have a steering committee, which will play an important role to tracking the project towards successful implementation of ERP system and proactively address risks. Ideally, the steering committee should have proper representation from management, different vendors associated with project. An ERP project can have different vendors like,
• Hardware
• Servers
• Operating systems
• Networks
• Software Licensing , consulting or IT service for implementation, training and support.

It would be a good option to have a project management office, which would look into day to day coordination reporting into the steering committee. Each of these tasks performed by vendors has dependency on start on the other vendor. Hence, PMO office should be proper control on all task executed by Vendors.

Schedule, Budget, Scope: From this stage of the project, Project management plays important role in success of the project. Budgeting would have been preliminarily done at the “Phase 1” of the project, but these would be more of ball park number (Variation of 20 to 25%). At this stage, more accurate estimate needs to be worked out.

ERP implementation has other stream as well, which has dependency in successful implementation of the project. Project management tools/ software can be used to track some of the key project related parameters.

Project deliverables, sign off and change requests: The project as such can have broken down into different phase with a work break down structure (WBS) with deliverables defined for each milestone or phase, the sign off and change request procedure agreed with all stakeholders. This should be brought about by the PMO team and agreed with ‘Steering Committee’ Till about phase 2, it’s more of setting up the ground rules towards successful execution of the project. All these might take considerable amount of time. The next phase is the actual execution phase of the project, on which I will continue further shortly.

Till then, happy reading.

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Factors which influence the success of ERP project implementation - Part 1

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) system had evolved over the period of last two decades. By ERP, I wish to look at ERP system with user base of at least 200+ with more than a million dollars in investments. I believe Oracle Application, PeopleSoft, SAP, Baan, MFG PRO etc would qualify into this league. ERP implementation has its own challenges from the stage of conceptualization to actual usage and beyond. I thought of sharing my views as what can primarily contribute to success of ERP implementations.

This would be the first of my series in writing about factors which contribute to success of ERP implementation, which is more from management perspective.

Management support and confidence: This is the first and foremost factors which determine success of ERP project. Any entity or business has to put effort and time in analyzing the need for an ERP system, before a decision to go for an ERP system. An entity, which is capable of investing more than a million dollar would definitely have some kind of legacy system, which would be doing the ERP function to an extent, hence its important as a first step to perform the following.

    1. Cost Vs Benefit Analysis.

    2. Return on investment.

When cost of implementation is considered, apart from license and consulting cost, it is important to consider the maintenance cost for post implementation and this, also varies upon on size of implementation.

Both needs to be worked out and I would suggest only if management is happy with above estimates & expectation there is need for a new ERP system.

Choosing the product: If decision is taken towards ERP implementation, then the next step is to find out the ERP product which would suit them better. Few factors, I believe which is essential to be considered for choosing the product.

Product suitability to its business, support the seller provides, future upgrades & scalability, cost & availability of consultants to provide support in future needs to be considered apart from pricing before choosing product.

Implementation Approach: ERP’s can be tailored to suit a business needs, this is commonly referred as ‘customization’. Customization can plug the gap from business solution perspective. However, its always better to avoid customization or at most keep customization to a minimum considering the following factors.

• Additional cost involved in development and testing.

• Maintenance cost even after deployment in production.

• Any business process change might empact customization and this woulr require enhancement of the customization and thereby cost.

• When upgrade happens in future, the customization has to be upgraded as well which would incur cost.

On all the above factors, management need to play important role towards success of the implementation and they can be considered as preliminary phase or phase 1 of the ERP prject implementation.

Will continue with other factors at shortly, till such time happy reading and happy to receive your comment.

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GDP Vs Debt... How does one classify a country rich?

Friday, April 1, 2011

If anyone is asked with a question as which are the richest countries, the answer would normally be any developed country like US, UK, Japan, Netherlands etc. Even, I was thinking in the same way till, I hit upon some articles which showed the public and external debt content in some of the developed countries.

Interesting the top developed countries seems to have high content of public and external dept when compared to their GDP.

List of countries with high Public Debt

List of countries with high External Debt.

So as per wikipedia report, interestingly Libya and Algeria have low external debt whereas external debt are highest with US and UK.

If external debt is high, then how come the exchange rate of these country currency is strong when compared to other countries whose external debt is very low meaning well under control?.

Would be quite happy to receive an explanation from whoever is knowledgeable on world economy and currency exchange rates.

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