Big circles (aka management have a 'new' idea)

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  • Big circles (aka management have a 'new' idea)
  • mc
    Member

    Just how common place is it for companies to continually go around the same circle when it comes to trying to implement ‘new’ ideas?

    For example, my employer about 6 years ago brought in a new touchscreen based portal system, through which we were meant to enter all jobs we done, to save admin time/staff. It went live, productivity nose dived because everybody was spending a good amount of time trying to enter everything on a stupid touchscreen, instead of writing on a bit paper and handing it to somebody else to deal with. The system cost a considerable amount, so it was a case of it will work, and everybody was endlessly hounded to use it. 6 months and various ‘enhancements’ later, once productivity was still down, the chasing stopped, key management figures ‘moved on’, and the portal was quietly swept under the carpet never to be mentioned again.

    Now back to the present, with a pretty much all new senior management team, we’re getting a new tablet based tool for directly entering jobs. (Which is under no circumstances to be referred to as the portal Mk.2 πŸ˜† ) It’s already 2 months late in implementation, it’s cost even more than the portal, and productivity is markedly down in the test area. I’m personally going to give it 18 months until there’s another bulge under the already mountainesque carpet, but just how common are these implementation circles in other companies?

    Premier Icon v8ninety
    Subscriber

    Glad it’s not just my industry then… πŸ˜†

    b r
    Member

    Just how common place is it for companies to continually go around the same circle when it comes to trying to implement ‘new’ ideas?

    Cycle-period is normally the length of time between “Exec’s times two”.

    I’ve seen it going on for +30 years, and I’m sure if I was older I’d have seen it going on for longer…

    Premier Icon eddie11
    Subscriber

    its happened in mine too. At least you have clear productivity figures to prove yours doesn’t work. In mine its not so cut and dried so management can continue to be in denial and claim it is working.

    The sad thing is that you can be the bloke to stands around being cast as the naysayer dinoaur saying ‘we’ve done this before and it didn’t work…’ in as little as 6 years now.

    Premier Icon nemesis
    Subscriber

    To be fair, it’s not always just about productivity and they can work in the right circumstances when done well.

    That said, it’s very common for systems to be sold to people in the business who don’t really know why they need it but they think it sounds good and will improve something…

    mc
    Member

    I’m not quite the naysayer just yet. I normally just sit and roll my eyes, which I’m pretty sure annoys senior managers more.

    But as a lower manager said to me, you know it won’t work, I know it won’t work. But I’ll try my hardest to make it work, that way they can’t blame me when it doesn’t work.

    Premier Icon aracer
    Member

    mc wrote:

    It’s already 2 months late in implementation, it’s cost even more than the portal, and productivity is markedly down in the test area.

    In a way there’s a slight element of hope there, in that they have a test area rather than rolling it out to the whole company immediately, and that it’s not yet been released. Or am I being far too optimistic that they’re doing it properly?

    Premier Icon Speshpaul
    Subscriber

    I can remember watch a doc about one of the huge US navy aircraft carriers. For all of the high tech-you can’t film that systems on board, the system that managed where every aircraft was on board and how it could be moved up to the flight deck was a set of scale wooden models held on to a scale drawing by magnets.
    It worked, it did the job when the power went down etc etc.

    the other issue is the perception of failure.
    You test a new system, it does quite do what you want it to do, so bin it. That is a successful test. You found out it won’t work.
    To many times running a trial means that the system will be implemented.

    Premier Icon slowoldman
    Subscriber

    Cycle-period is normally the length of time between “Exec’s times two”.

    This.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    UAT. User Acceptance Testing.

    Systems foisted on users without any real comprehension of those users’ workflow and what they actually do all day are doomed to failure.

    mc
    Member

    In a way there’s a slight element of hope there, in that they have a test area rather than rolling it out to the whole company immediately, and that it’s not yet been released. Or am I being far too optimistic that they’re doing it properly?

    The entire company has already been issued with tablets, so it’s going national one way or another.
    I think the old portals sat gathering dust for a year before that system sent live. The company has a history of throwing money at these projects, as by the time they realise it’s not going to work, they can’t afford for it not to work.

    However, you are talking about a company who’s main software system went live nearly two years late, lasted 30 minutes before the servers crashed in spectacular style, and had to resort to full emergency backup plans on and off for weeks until they threw enough money at servers to get the system stable enough they only had to reboot it once during the day. Our IT history is not a good one.

    Premier Icon oldnpastit
    Subscriber

    Isn’t this Oracle and SAP’s entire business model?

    Premier Icon nemesis
    Subscriber

    Oh god, we’re not going to go down the whole SAP/Oracle/whatever is crap route are we? As I’ve pointed out several times, failure is almost always down to the business making a mess of implementation rather than the product.

    Case in point:

    However, you are talking about a company who’s main software system went live nearly two years late, lasted 30 minutes before the servers crashed in spectacular style, and had to resort to full emergency backup plans on and off for weeks until they threw enough money at servers to get the system stable enough they only had to reboot it once during the day.

    Premier Icon slowoldman
    Subscriber

    UAT seems to have a habit of magically becoming BAU without any real user sign off or any knowledge being passed to end user support teams.

    Premier Icon DaRC_L
    Subscriber

    It’s continual… until Senior Management (SM) grow up and do proper feasibility studies with cost benefits rather than the usual 2 types of system purchase

    SM – oooh shiney new tech toy, I want. IT guys I want a system that gives me everyone that shiny toy

    or

    SM (late night club of some disrepute with a golfing buddy software salesmen) – Whatsch, how musch kick-back do I get? Mmm I like that lap dancer… where do I sign?

    bencooper
    Member

    I can remember watch a doc about one of the huge US navy aircraft carriers. For all of the high tech-you can’t film that systems on board, the system that managed where every aircraft was on board and how it could be moved up to the flight deck was a set of scale wooden models held on to a scale drawing by magnets.

    Similar to that, I once met a senior person in charge of the boat lift at Faslane – a huge, fantastically expensive rising drydock designed to lift even more fantastically expensive submarines. They tried various high-tech methods t keep it level when it’s being raised or lowered, but the best and most reliable method they settled on was a plumb-bob hanging from the ceiling.

    The only maintenance required is occasionally someone has to repaint the cross on the floor.

    Premier Icon ourmaninthenorth
    Subscriber

    “management blah blah whinge whinge”

    Thus bleat the staff since forever….

    Premier Icon Alex
    Subscriber

    Always thought it odd the only groups categorised as ‘users’ take drugs or new IT systems πŸ˜‰

    Senior people get emotionally coupled to ideas they had which are never tested for cost/effort of implementation. Tony Blair/NHS single IT system is my favourite example. I have about 300 others…

    Big ideas can be good. Big ideas being implemented all at once with some pig headed exec refusing to bend to reality = bad.

    Premier Icon slackalice
    Subscriber

    People with MBA’s need to justify their MBA.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    until they threw enough money at servers to get the system stable enough they only had to reboot it once during the day

    Root cause of stuff like this is managers not understanding the issues. They just look for people who can code, without really realising that there’s code and there’s code – because they don’t see or understand how it works.

    If an archtect designs, or a builder builds a shit building, then you can walk in the door and see it’s shit, and if it falls down in 2 years you’re not impressed. With IT systems, management only have the builders’ word for it. And we’re now so used to shit IT that we think that’s how it is.

    I suspect that outsourcing IT ecourages short term gain ie get it done asap for the lowest price, and scarper when it’s done so you don’t have to live with the fallout. Or, have them hire loads of your guys to look after the shitty system that keeps giving trouble.

    Premier Icon scaredypants
    Subscriber

    I work in the NHS 😐

    …”the ciiircle of liiiife”…

    boblo
    Member

    Uuugghh, work talk. Shuffles on…

    Premier Icon stumpyjon
    Subscriber

    Its mainly down to senior managers not understanding what they need to change, it’s more I’ve got a solution now let’s find a problem to solve, either that or we must do something, anything mentality.

    I was on the out skirts of an SAP implementation a few years ago, one of consultants told us not to think of it as an IT project but a complete business overhaul with an IT element. Most solutions just get dropped on top of what was already there and don’t work meaning people carry on with the work arounds and bits of paper they’ve always used. Makes the next zttempt at change even harder.

    mc
    Member

    Just discovered this thread in the bowels of my profile.

    Well, it’s gone ‘live’. By gone ‘live’ I mean the entire company has been trained, the system is active everywhere, and I think I last logged in to it a fortnight ago. I gave up logging in after I went several days without actually being allocated any work via the system.

    I’m giving it 6 months until there’s some early retirement packages floating around, and the carpets get a bit higher (or in my mates words, they’ll need to move HQ again to so they stop banging their heads).

    MSP
    Member

    I was on the out skirts of an SAP implementation a few years ago, one of consultants told us not to think of it as an IT project but a complete business overhaul with an IT element. Most solutions just get dropped on top of what was already there and don’t work meaning people carry on with the work arounds and bits of paper they’ve always used.

    SAP does need to be a business process overhaul, backed by new it systems. IMO they generally try to do to much too quickly, but more than half the problem is people resisting the need to change, modernise and implement better practices.

    MTB-Idle
    Member

    the reason that Dilbert is such a successful cartoon is that every company in every industry is doing the same thing, making the same assumptions and the same mistakes and the end user i.e. you and I, always sees the same results.

    CountZero
    Member

    ourmaninthenorth – Member
    “management blah blah whinge whinge”

    Thus bleat the staff since forever…
    Well, who is it who implements these ideas, then expects the workforce to cope with it?
    Sure as hell isn’t the workforce/staff.

    Premier Icon grahamt1980
    Subscriber

    Only two types of company that have tried to implement SAP.
    The first went bust as they ran out of money. The second was big enough to take the huge hit to profits

    Premier Icon PePPeR
    Subscriber

    We’ve had it so many times as an idea I relate to the handheld we’ve used during the time I’ve been there and it’s relative battery life.

    Pre 2000 we used psion handhelds, a pp3 would last 3-4 months.

    Post 2000 (millennium bug in the psions) we used a Symbol running dos battery would last about a week and if it ran out we could throw a pp3 in and it would run for about 2 weeks on a good one of those.

    This year we’ve gone to Intermec running windoze, it now barely lasts a day, has no back up option so is a nightmare.

    The time it takes to create an invoice on said handhelds has also increased massively too, it takes roughly a third longer to create an invoice now than it did on the psions.

    Premier Icon jamj1974
    Subscriber

    Alex, Stumpyjon and MSP +1.

    revs1972
    Member

    I don’t know what industry you are in, but how much of the problem is directly caused by the persons using the equipment ?. I’ve seen time and time again in my industry , that you implement new ideas , but because the people they apply to automatically put the defences up against anything new , then they won’t even try to accept it.
    For example , when I moved to Devon, I introduced CAD drawing to the company I started work for. Some of the workshop didn’t like it, even though in the long term it would benefit them and save them time. They just didn’t like that someone new had come in and changed the way they did things. I stuck with it and within 6 months they were moaning that the rest of the draughts men should be doing it my way.

    Premier Icon geoffj
    Subscriber

    Well, who is it who implements these ideas, then expects the workforce to cope with it?
    Sure as hell isn’t the workforce/staff.

    If it’s done right it could be.

    Lots of good Agile and lean UX ways of working out there to help with this.

    Gantt Charts -> Kanban boards
    Forests of documentation-> slide decks and conversations
    Waterfall -> agile

    Get with the programme(s) ladies! πŸ˜€

    Premier Icon slowoldman
    Subscriber

    Just how common place is it for companies to continually go around the same circle when it comes to trying to implement ‘new’ ideas?

    Bit like threads really.

    ……..all that has happened before, will happen again.

    Here at Treblinsk Rubbish Tractor Production Facility No.1 it’s around a 20 year cycle.

    Joint discipline working teams are on the agenda again (didn’t work then, can’t see it working now)

    Sold off Communications arm, hideous service level from sold off bit, eventually taken back in house. Guess what’s happening again.

    Hopeless organisation, still, only one privatisation and three reorgs to survive till retirement.

    dpfr
    Member

    Bit like threads really.

    Do you suppose there’s a Corporate Bollocks Forum out there somewhere, which is where these ideas come from?

    It could have subforums for ‘Management Speak’; ‘Rubbish Implementation of Great Ideas’; ‘How to Develop a Complete Lack of Understanding of what the Job is Actually Like’…………

    Emperors new clothes syndrome. That and senior management too busy building CVs with little knowledge of, or inclination to listen to. the impact their ideas have on the front line.
    There’s no such thing in my industry as a trial that didn’t get rolled out.

    Premier Icon ourmaninthenorth
    Subscriber

    Emperors new clothes syndrome.

    I have received two pieces of written career advice from my FIL: a copy of Parkinson’s Law (work expands to fill the time available) and the Emperor’s New Clothes.

    Both are very useful for pricking the balloon of pet projects.

    On the whole large projects operate in line with the culture implementing them: often too little planning and too much managing upwards by middle management, which moves swiftly into firefighting. The heavy planning of a Hitachi approach would help to negate this, but no-one wants to be seen to be “wasting” time on detailed planning, rather than just rolling sleeves up.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    We recently launched a newer version of oracle… Terrible project to launch a really not very good system, very badly. Anyway, it’s my first big IT project with the company so I had to laugh when someone produced copies of the project post mortem for the last 2 times they launched a newer version of oracle and every mistake and failure was exactly the same. And of course no version was ever fully operational before it was replaced with the new version which would solve it all.

    Projects.

    Premier Icon BillOddie
    Subscriber

    Since being with my current employer we have had 5 re-orgs, all linked to having a new group CEO appointed. I generally ignore them now.

    We go from a regional structure to a project line lead one, and back again, and back and forth and back and forth.

    There’s a very difficult tension in the glass half empty school of business between keeping things as they are and potentially losing out to competitors and changing things and potentially losing out to competitors.

    Some businesses are fortunate enough to have sufficiently tough investors and adequate enough revenues that they can afford expensive hiccoughs in the anticipation of great successes.

    As for the cycle of (big) business perhaps it is the case that some things work for some businesses at some times. As a result, folks try apparently the same things but in different circumstances, or with different people in the hope that they’ll pay off. It sometimes works. Though for old hands it can sometimes be difficult to spot the differences. Rather than moan on the sidelines, why not put some skin in the game?

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