TOUGH GUYS NEED A BREAK TOO

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Most of the people I worked in the past calls me a tough guy. It’s not because of my built and looks but because I work alot and I deliver on- time, on-scope, on-budget and at the right quality all the time. Well, I may not be a 7AM person but I work way beyond the normal and I usually stay up for work for 16 to 20 hours daily. This is my daily routine.

Having completed a huge project running for almost a year, my mind is all set for vacation now. Although I have already mastered my work through the years in such a way that delivering projects regardless of complexity seems to look easier and fun to the eyes of the people around me, I still get tired after work. Besides, I’m human.

There is a saying that you won’t ever get tired of working if you love what you are doing. Well, this may be true at times but we all get exhausted at the end of the day. Same as any great devices we have right now like our smartphones and tablet computers, we all need to recharge and get the energy anew to continue doing what we love.

I remember when I was younger. I was energetic, enthusiastic and filled with high spirit. I wanted to get the job done in one sitting. I was a programmer, a system designer, an analyst, an administrator, a security specialist, a web developer, an applications consultant and an entrepreneur. I wanted to do everything because I love working.

It’s not that I’m older and lazier but we all get used to the monotonous routine of life. Like a car getting old, sometimes we need that little pushing and jumpstarting to keep us going. We get wiser, more experienced and tougher each day but like a tree, our leaves may wither and drop as we lose that thing that keeps us passionately engaged – our drive.

All these may relate to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs but I think that we all deserve a break. We all need to give ourselves a break from all the daily routines we have and recharge. Thus , I look forward to using my vacation leave credits this year in full to get back that energy lost. Besides, even tough guys need a break too!

EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD!

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I surely blogged about this several times way back and it pains me everytime to put effort and time just to understand why some folks would rather pick a more complex, more structured and more hierarchical approach than take a simple fix for a simple thing.

Be it work, personal or even in politics, we all wanted to be recognized. We all have this ultimate clamor to be heard and to be able to lead yet we do not even know how to listen and how to follow. It’s tough and sometimes, it eats up all your enthusiasm in an endeavor.

Having managed quite a few projects in the past few years, I have seen how groups struggle for a place on the top. Imagine a team of 7 further split into 3 subteams of 2 people each where one is a lead and the other is a member when it would have been more practical to just have one.

In politics, we have issues of basic social services not being delivered because politicians are busy climbing up for popularity and power. Even the government shutting down in the US is a result of political parties wanting to be on top of the game at the expense of their constituents!

I am not ranting. Well, maybe I am or maybe I’m just tired and sleepy. Besides, it’s 3:17AM! It’s #conjuring time! Hahaha! Anyway, we cannot simply have too many cooks and not spoil the broth. We cannot just let everybody rule the world and not have chaos! We need to put our acts together and that’s my two cents worth!

ON DUE DILIGENCE AND PRE-PROJECT ASSESSMENT

Project Assessment

For every great project that I have been blessed to personally manage, a huge effort is required for due diligence and pre-project assessment. This task is very crucial because it is where the scope of work and all the initial plans are put up to create a project. As such, this activity is as important as the Go-Live day though it’s done only by a few people on the premise that a project has not yet been started and a project team is yet to be formed. Thus, a Project Manager forms an Assessment Team to do all the information collection.

The rationale behind a due diligence work is for people doing the assessment be able to pinpoint in advance the amount of work needed in terms of time and resources to accomplish a goal rooted from a demand from the business stakeholders. It is also in this task that all the challenges and risks are being mined to produce a better delivery approach and plan. In the project management perspective, this is where the initial scope document is created as a premise for a creation of a project and this is where all the plans are being drafted – even before the project start date.

Well, I just finished yet another amazing project last month and I am now busy doing all the assessment work for our next one which will cover not just the usual stuffs we do but a combination of both infrastructure, enterprise systems and process improvements. Having said this, we are doing all the preparatory work for a huge engagement right now and it’s an exciting time for professionals like me though it requires an overwhelming amount of effort. Thus, I thought I should write something to stress in the project community the great importance of due diligence and assessment as a project task.

Besides, I’ve been working so hard lately for this. Cheers!

THE VENDOR KNOWS BEST BUT THE CUSTOMER IS KING!

You Pay Peanuts You Get MonkeysThe funny thing about working with vendors is that sometimes they can play with words so well that you end up taking all the pricey offers from them without having to even realize the value of each. It’s even tricky for people who are just new to this type of partnership because vendors can easily reverse the idea of "The Customer is King" to "The Vendor Knows Best".

I remember when I first bought my Apple iPhone 3GS, it took me a month to review all its specifications and read feedbacks from those who got the product. I am a type of consumer who make sure that I get what I pay for. When I got my iPhone 4 and iPad 2, I spent more time doing my research because of so many alternative smartphones and tablet PCs in the market.

There is a saying that says "if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys". I hate to even use this because sometimes you can get a good product or a good service cheaper than the leading brand. In the 15 years that I was exposed to the IT industry, this is the only time I have seen a big name not meeting its brand reputation in terms of quality service and competency.

I am not naming names but I do hope that in due time, this vendor will get to realize that overselling is not the way to go especially for a client who is paying twice the normal amount that it should to do a regular implementation project. Unlike first-time clients, we have done similar projects on our own in the past that we are able to gauge performance and quality.

Perhaps, it is wrong for us to expect too much or perhaps the amount we are to pay is just a peanut to them. Maybe. At the end of the day, peanut or gold, clients deserve quality resource, quality products and quality service. I am not trying to find fault or single out someone, I am talking in general. Although it may be valid at times to state that the vendor knows best, still…

The Customer is King!

ACCELERATED SAP IMPLEMENTATION THROUGH ASAP METHODOLOGY

ASAP is SAP’s solution to effective project implementation and management. ASAP stands for Accelerated SAP. The word “Accelerated” refers to the many so called “Accelerators” ( Tools & Information ) available in SAP to expedite the implementation of SAP in an enterprise. So, simply put , ASAP is a methodology or a step-by-step approach used to effectively and efficiently implement SAP.

ASAP is divided into 5 major phases as follows:

1. Project Preparation
2. Business Blueprint
3. Realization
4. Final Preparation
5. Go Live and Support

Below are the common tasks or activities covered for every phase:

Project Preparation
1. Initial project Planning, scoping and goal setting
2. Implementation strategy
3. Team formation
4. Project Kickoff
5. Training

Business Blueprint
1. Refining goals and objectives
2. Requirement gathering
3. As-Is & To-Be documentation
4. Gaps Analysis
5. Documentation

Realization
1. Business Process Requirement implementation based on defined blueprint
2. Baseline configuration and confirmation
3. Integration configuration
4. System management
5. Final configuration and confirmation
6. Development of program interfaces

Final Preparation
1. Unit testing
2. Integration Testing
3. User training
4. System management
5. Cutover

Go Live and Support
1. Migration to production environment
2. Support
3. Monitoring
4. Performance optimization

There are 3 key tools used in ASAP:

– SAP Solution Composer
Solution Composer is the core tool of the ASAP implementation methodology. It provides a way to map and maintain the key business processes in an enterprise. It is a windows installable that basically provides a graphical view of the solution maps

– ASAP Roadmaps
ASAP roadmaps are the heart of the ASAP implementation methodology. Solution composer is just a graphical tool used to create, maintain and manage ASAP ( and other ) roadmaps. The standard SAP provided roadmaps can be viewed either in Solution Composer or in plain HTML format.

– SAP Solution Manager
Sol Man is used in this phase primarily to materialize and store the roadmaps designed. The tools inside solman that are used in this phase are the Question and Answers database , BPML, and document storage.

ASAP methodology gives the project managers the requisite technology and management roadmap to implement an SAP project following global standards and well acknowledged strategies. This approach also greatly reduces the risk and improves project timelines by giving the project manager tools to monitor and maintain metrics necessary for a successful implementation. Team members should be conversant with the general implementation roadmap as well as the specific accelerators that should be used to speed up the implementation.

In summary, a successful and accelerated SAP implementation is what Accelerated SAP or ASAP methodology is all about.

LOCAL SAP MANAGER OR GLOBAL IT PROJECT MANAGER?

SAP ManagerSAP nowadays remains on the top of the list in terms of value as one of the most expensive technology and most expensive job in the IT industry. At the same time, Project Management has always remained a viable career leading to higher management spot. Having a career on either one of them offers a lucrative remuneration and a vast opportunity to see the world for free.

Someone who wanted to be under SAP and yet practice Project Management has the option to push for an SAP Project Manager role. It is a very good job title though. Nonetheless, some professionals may not be lucky enough to get into the said job simply because SAP Project Management requires a successful applicant to have at least a full-cycle implementation exposure prior.

Global IT Project ManagerThe only way to get an exposure in SAP is to actually have the job prior. So it is quite tricky. But then again, some plain IT Managers are sometimes commissioned to rollout SAP projects with minimal requirements – knowledge of ASAP Methodology and the ability to execute a project plan.

Anyway, I made this article to put up a poll surveying the preference of SAP and Project Management Professionals. I know that both jobs are quite in demand right now. I want to see which one is rather preferred by people in the industry. Thus, the question is…

Given the chance, will you take a local SAP Manager role or a global IT Project Manager job?

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[polldaddy poll=5611783]

OF GO-LIVES AND LESSONS LEARNED.

I just declared today that my project in Singapore is now going-live on the new platform and infrastructure. Thanks to the entire project team for making this yet another successful implementation. This is the toughest site so I feel so fulfilled!

Like any other rollouts, we have had some issues both minor and major. Nonetheless, it did not reach a point where I had to escalate to the CIO because I was able to push each project team member to resolve issues in their utmost capability.

As they say, leadership is not just about issuing orders but getting things done by motivating and pushing people to their full potential to achieve a common goal. It may be an effort not fully appreciated but the result is what matters most.

In any given implementation, there will always be professional and sometimes personal arguments. We are still humans. But then again, all these forms part of the overall success of any project. I consider all discussions as brainstorming sessions.

10 Keys to ERP Go LiveIn the last rollouts I have done, I have seen how different people from different nationality reacts. Some are panicking to the brink of escalating without having to try resolving the issue first while some tries to find fault and pass blame.

Weird as it may be but there are times when everybody wants to be the head. This causes a lot of problems as too many hands could always spoil the food. Perhaps, it is about culture, upbringing or plain educational background. It’s a challenge.

There will always be hard and difficult people to manage. There will always be members who wants to be leaders and consultants who wants to take control of how tasks are ran rather than just focusing on their areas. It’s part of the thrill.

Dealing with Difficult PeopleOn my part, I try to be cool. I only escalate when I see things as being out of the capability of the project team. Besides, having to panic will not do anything good as the support team is miles and miles away. I need to make do with what I have.

On dealing with people especially with a few bad tomatoes, I had to professionally address issues and raise them if I have to. I have learned this over time from my previous bosses to fix issues before they explode.

I have not failed so far in any of my projects and I intend to keep it that way. Although I manages differently, I do not see anything wrong with the way I execute things because I deliver good results at the end of the day.

THE SWEEPERS!

Sweepers I have reached the hotel now after a tiring weekend. As I was fixing my stuffs, it came to my mind that we have 2 more colleagues who were left at the site to do cleanups and sweeping and they are the SWEEPERS.

The title may seem to be quite weird but the role is literally same as the title itself. The SWEEPERS sweep whatever issues are left after the rollout of a project. Thus, they are equally important as the others.

I may not have had the chance to personally thank them on their excellent work over the weekend, I know that they are aware of how I appreciate their hard work for the project. I started from the bottom of the food chain too so I relate to them.

I am impressed by Jesper’s quick-thinking and honesty for approaching me for an assessment of how I see him as a team member. I am thankful as well for San who has kept me informed when everybody else was talking a different tongue.

We would have not signed-off if not for them as well. Aside from the Technical Architects, IT Managers, Project Managers and the Line Support back home, the SWEEPERS are equally important to the project’s success!

MEN MAKE THINGS HAPPEN!

Make Things Happen I have a mission to accomplish starting May 2010 and that is to ensure that I get to standardize at least 33 sites in Asia-Pacific in the least possible time where I am targeting to consume only 20% of the estimated budget for my region alone without compromising our goals and plans.

This may sound so ideal but this has a 50% buffer already and I tried to plan using the most conservative values as much as possible. So, I may say that this is a plan that is very well feasible and doable! Besides, I am doing it!

Now, let me share some of my insights on this. Well, the secret in successfully rolling out a global standardization project is not just about having a good plan but also by having reliable and skilled people who can form part of your precious pool of resources. They will basically be the key in making things happen. Thus, they are very important both to you and to your goals. The challenge of ensuring that they share the same drive with you is equally vital as well. Thus, you need to make your people aligned to whatever mission you have. You need to shepherd them!

Given enough budget and management support plus a professionally-made plan, you need the DRIVE within yourself to accomplish the mission. In order to have this, you need to BELIEVE on whatever you are doing. Making Things HappenYou need to have the very same goals of the project and the stakeholders as your own. You need to put your mission in your heart and mind. In doing so, you can effectively convince your resources and even your clients to work with you with full cooperation and trust because they see the full conviction in your eyes that you can make things happen for them as how they wanted it to be.

With resources well allocated, a strong determination to pursue your targets and right attitude to succeed, you are now ready to face whatever obstacles you may encounter as you realize your goals. Now, it is important to remember and accept that at times you will fall and fail but what matters most is knowing that you need to stand up on every fall and continue your pursuit.

Great men are not born but they are created by time much like the best sword hammered and burned to be that sharpest that it can be. When you know what to do and where to go, just go and do things as you must have. Constraints are constant in life and they should not matter to where you are to go.

Besides, we are men! We make things happen.