Monday, May 17, 2010

Implementing I.T. systems

Comment posted in my blog.

Dear Mr Tan,

I have been involved in implementing IT Projects in the private sector since I started working 20 years ago. I am an Accountant by profession. I have gone thru implementing many kinds of IT systems. I find implementing the simple ones have the best chances of success.

IT systems have come a long way since then. Modern IT systems is able to cater to a lot of requirements. What is critical to the success of implementing IT systems is there must be a Project Manager handling the implementation full time. He must have enough experience implementing IT Projects and he must have approval to hire resources.

The Directors and the employees have an unrealistic expectation in implementing IT systems. They want the system to be able to do everything without lifting a finger because its a million dollar system. This is in turn compounded by the IT Consultants promising almost everything can be done without managing customers expectation. The IT Consultants charge their fees by project. So they will allocate a number of man hours to the project. If the project runs into difficulties, the IT Consultants will charge additional fees.

Another critical factor to the success of the project is the employees themselves. The question is are they willing to change their working habits and spent time to learn new skills to adapt to the system while also doing their job?

Thirdly, IT systems should be implemented by phases SLOWLY. This is so that the person working on the system has time to adapt to it. Implementing every thing at once brings the risk of multi-million dollar failure.
This is because there is huge resistance to change on the part of employees.

The consultancy firms will be happy that the hospitals want to implement all at once bec it will bring them huge revenues.  They of course hope that their clients will succeed in implementing the system as it will bring them recognition.

No one wants to hire and pay mature workers who have hands on experience adequately and who can get the job done well. Instead CEO's nowadays say pay the consultants WELL. IT Consultants are skilled in "Consulting and IT work". Not in actually implementing the system.

What is actually needed is a person in the Co. who understands IT, its strength and limitations, who understands the company employees and culture, what they can or cannot do and assist them and have adequate experience in implementing IT projects and have hands on experience utilising IT.


Anonymous said...

Hi author,

As I'm in the IT industry, implementation as well, what I could see that it seems to be happening everywhere in SG and is inevitable.

Implementation is really getting nowhere as costs are higher compared to countries like BRIC (which to business people who don't understand technology, means no business sense). The living cost in SG is the killing part. In order to afford a reasonable living, one needs to get paid reasonably also. From, you are able to see how many people in other countries can fight for much much lower cost, exploiting their lower cost of living. For most business people who do not understand technology, cost is always the first option UNLESS you are able to market your implementation just like the consultants (offering one solution for all, the por-fessionalism of promising the earth, the sun and the moon), the business people will then award their projects to these who speak friendly languages to them (i.e. the consultant).

Secondly, the "manager/consultant" culture in SG that nobody likes to do the "dirty" job contributes to the diminishing supply as well which drives cost higher. Even though SG imports lots of "por-fessionals" from the you-know-which-country. Many of them still treat SG as spring board to get promoted into management, some eventually be managers and further bring in their own countrymen who probably most of them are not up to standard (many IT personnels have tons of complaints on this, it's matter of fact).

Thirdly, many companies also like to pay peanuts with the mindset of treating the implementors (engineers) like paying the cleaners. In their term, it's just "human resource" and since they don't know what you're doing but it will eventually works, it's not important. But if you sweet talk, then different.

This is not something we could complain. We shall improve. We can't change the directors thinking since SG needs to stay competitive, costs must be low.

Hence, it's advised that you shall:

1. If you can't beat them, join them! Be a consultant!

2. Try to get a managerial role, and outsource to cheaper countries, look for the potential talents outside, don't do the dirty job yourself.

3. Learn more soft skills and network with business people.

Anonymous said...

Ah, one more thing. Don't forget the sabotage factor. Easily done in IT systems by disgruntled insiders.

By the way they caught someone causing the 2nd blackout at MBS IR.

Tan Kin Lian said...

I spoke to the person who contributed to this posting. From his experience, the following approaches are success factors in successful implementation of I.T. systems:

a) implement in stages
b) do the simple things first
c) improve along the way.

I agree with this approach, based on my personal experience. can be implemented at much lower cost and mroe successfully using this incremental approach.

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