How not to burn yourself on the 1C introduction

Publications: How not to burn yourself on the 1C introductionAn article is for the leaders of organizations who are planning to introduce 1C on their enterprise. The first steps of customer for Computer Automated Management System are described. An article is written by manager of projects for 1C introduction, is based on his own experience of implementations. In the hasty approach of introduction, this process becomes a headache for the customer and the money-burning machine. In this article he described what errors are allowed for implementers and customers and how to avoid large investments in your own headache. Basically it concerns the introduction of configurations at the level of PEM and CA.

In this article I want to write what errors are allowed for the implementers and customers and how to avoid large investments in your own headache. Basically it concerns the introduction of configurations at the level of PEM and CA. Since, for example, introduction of 1C:Accounting on a large scale does not require the introduction itself. Although, in my practice there was the case when we wrote a project under EA introduction, but it was in fact a necessity. So …

Will we change???

First of all, a decision that something should be changed in the accounting must be made by the client for a start independently, and only later it is necessary to see the companies that implement 1C. This decision can be made, for example, by the General director together with a chief accountant or, for example, by the commercial director or technical director, if any. The main reason for this: transition to a new accounting system or registration of organization.

Everything is clear with registration of new enterprise, here we start from scratch and it is necessary to keep somewhere the accounting. But if someone of the leaders desires to go to a new accounting system, for example, from EA to CA, it should be thought whether it is necessary? If an «old» accounting system justifies itself, is stable and there is no problem, and it satisfies for all 100%, then, perhaps, we should not touch that works well. But if, for example, your system is out of date like 7.7 or there are some complications, problems in accounting, it should be thought about a transition. By the way, when making such decisions, it would be nice to consult with your average executives: managers, foreman, logistics specialists, etc. These people give the most colorful presentation about enterprise work then their heads.

I heard many times myself on the enterprise surveys from the leaders that they are satisfied by everything and the life is wonderful at all. But, after talking with the warehouse employees, sales managers, you understand that the leaders live in illusions and the work itself is happening on the ground and exactly there the problems exist that later can result in inadequate reporting for a leader according to which HE will make inadequate decision or, that the worst of all, will not do anything at all. Because all is always well!

Is an introduction required???

So, you made a decision on your enterprise that it is required to change something, because the business in the modern world is very dynamic and, by falling today on half step, tomorrow you will find yourself on the roadside. In the first place what should be thought by the customer is whether his enterprise needs an introduction. Or it is possible to do simply an installation.

For example, we purchase a program, order an express training and transfer of balances. Next, a small maintenance for the first couple months of 20 hours or even less. That’s all, next, the monthly installation of updates and consultation as needed. This scenario of events will be suitable if you are planning to work on EA, CM, SSM.

It is hard to name it an introduction, although it is possible. But this is not an introduction in our understanding. We will call it «Express Introduction». How is it possible to determine whether it is necessary for the enterprise a valuable, large, EXPENSIVE introduction or an express introduction? Of course, everyone will want an express introduction, it is quick and cheap. But we will not forget that our task is not to make yourself a headache and not to pay later (after «some» introduction) more only for the fact that everything would more or less work. A task of any enterprise is to get revenue with minimal costs, therefore, the costs should be estimated before the first step.

One of the criteria for a large introduction: amount of workflow, for example, your organization products each day more than 60 documents. Let’s say that this is a not much plus in the direction of introduction.

The next equally important criterion – the complexity of accounting. I had an experience when I developed a project for which I spent a couple months, the project was for EA introduction. It would seem much easier. But there was a special appeal – specificity or work (Service station + auto shop). There were the large complexities in VAT accounting and joint use of GST + UTII. Information was accumulated in EA from the other programs, and our task was to maximally simplify the business accounting on the enterprise and to do it portable. In order with any change of workflow scheme on the enterprise to quickly (using the settings, not programming) change the scheme of data loading in EA.

The third equally important criterion is a number of enterprise employees involved in creation of primary documents. In many small enterprises the accounting department directly prepared the primary accounting documents, it is certainly good if they are equal to their tasks, but at a certain amount of workflow the accounting department begins to maximally simplify is own workflow, because it does not have a time to do it quickly. For example, instead of daily IH writing off, it is made once a month according to some notes. As a result, we get a not operative but «postmortem» accounting which is actually impossible to control, only to watch it. Therefore, the life is much easier when the preparation of primary documents is delegated to the other employees, for example, storekeepers and sales managers. Thereafter, if in your chain of documents there are at least 3-4 links (for example: storekeeper – income/expenditure of IH, sales manager – orders for buyers, accounting department – payments, etc.), then for work of these employees the operating SYSTEM and PROCEDURE are required. That in turn encourages you for introduction.

The third MOST IMPORTANT one. There the problems in the enterprise: for example, theft, difficulty in organizing the supplies/shipments, chaos in the accounting and balances, etc. Then introduce.

Targets!!!

Targeting is one of the most important introduction stages, I would even say: «the most important». Because, as you understand, if you move to nowhere, you will come nowhere. The main customer task is to exactly understand: «What does he want to get from the introduction». Thereafter, how to form a competent target for the introduction project???

Your target must be OUTSIDE the scope of 1C. When you come to the customer, you often hear the phrases like: «Make everything operable», «Without brakes», «A lot of analytics», «generate a pack documents in the program by clicking one button», etc. These are not the targets, this is a «Wish list». Again, the real introduction target is in the business, beyond 1C.

Let us consider an example of the main target of one of our implementations — «Increase of sales department capacity», but it is should mentioned that without increase of sales department staff. The task is as follows: a large number of clients are calling to the sales department and the sales department does not cope with this. Very appropriate target solved by means of automation tools. To solve the task, a set of measures is required, notably: work of factory in the on-line mode, operative informing of the sales department, etc. It is possible to add to this a personal account in the Internet for the regular clients.

How it was before, the client calls to the sales department «What about my order № 123». After that the manager calls to the factory and asks «What is wrong with order № 123». Receives an answer and recalls to the client reporting about the results of conversation with the shop. A lot of time was spent for that.

How is has become now. The client calls and says a number of order, the manager dials in his program and receives the full information related to the order and can inform the client without handing up. If necessary, adjust the date of production and immediately receive an answer from the program about an ability of such adjustment. The availability of such information in on-line mode allows organizing a personal account of clients and receiving the information without disturbing the sales managers.

Good target can be measured. Ideal task is a task that can be measured before and after introduction. If we will return to our example, then it is possible to measure accordingly a number of calls and an average duration of one call. As a result of introduction, it can be seen that a number of calls per working day increases and the duration respectively reduces. If to add to this number the visits to the internet account with call duration of 0 minutes, since the manager time is not consumed, then we get a result in the increasing of sales department capacity at a good percentage.

Good target can be, but rather must be recalculated in money. For example, it is possible to measure how much investments will be required to organize one work place, notably: phone number, computer, table, monthly salary of a new employee, assessments to salary budget, expansion of office space, etc. On the opposite side is the cost of 1C introduction. Also to count approximately a number of clients that can be served by one manager before and after automation. A project of business automation must be considered in terms of profitability, rather than unprofitability. And, therefore, to set the targets that will help to economize: on the salary budget, office space, better purchases, etc., that will help to increase the inflow of clients and to reduce the primary costs of goods, to increase the turnover of capital.

Key questions that need to meet your targets: how will it help to increase a revenue of enterprise, how will it help to reduce the costs of enterprise or to avoid the additional costs in future and how it will help to improve manageability of enterprise.

Examples of targets:

  • Suppression of economically profitable purchases (not too small (due to the lack of discounts and not optimal transport logistics) and not too large (in order to avoid the warehouse overloading for a long period and overpayments for the possession of capital)).
  • Optimization of stock layout in production. Reducing the recurrent waste products.
  • Quality control of product (control of the production process, material and workers’ control, control of output production).
  • Collection and re-collection of orders. Management of reserves. System of automatic re-reservation when receiving more rush orders.

Actually, to generate a «beautiful» target for the specific automation project is enough complex task and it is not solved in a jiffy. Therefore, before meeting the introduction team it is not necessary to know your targets thoroughly, it is enough to have a rough idea of what you wish to automate. And the head of automation project will help to generate the final target and will develop a plan for its implementation. But an idea itself has to come from the customer, because nobody knows his business and the processes within the company better than himself. The introduction project manager only gives the desired shape of the customer ideas using his introduction experience on the other enterprises.

First meeting.

So, you decided to introduce. You have the prerequisites for introduction, you have the ideas that you want to realize during the automation project. It’s time to talk with 1C franchise. To get started, you need, of course, to buy 1C program itself. And, calling to the franchise, first thing you get a sales manager. There are many scenarios depending on the manager literacy and his honesty. Therefore, consider several scenarios.

The worst-case scenario. The manager will offer you to arrange a meeting. Arriving at your enterprise, we will tell what a good program he sells you, show the slides, opinions and leaflets, assure that everything will work fine, the introduction is not expensive and fast enough. DO NOT BELIEVE HIM. The main sales manager task is TO SELL. And the introduction will make another person and in will be a headache of another person and customer. After the sale, a programmer will come to you who will make an introduction in your enterprise. Perhaps, he would have a thought that it was sold to the customer not exactly he wanted and it was sold only to sell. But he WILL NOT TELL you about that, because it is bad to expose a company in which he works. And programmer will work with what was sold. +1 to headache.

The second scenario. The manager comes to the customer together with programmer. The programmer demonstrate for you a workability and functionality of the program. He will show you how the purchases, planning, production, etc. are organized. I want to note that he will come to you with a ready base for demonstration. I assure you that EVERYTHING will work on it. This base is specially intended for demonstration, the data in base and the tasks solved in it match perfectly to each other. In real life this occurs rarely.

In my experience, there was a case when the client chose the franchise and arranged a tender for introduction. Two companies participated in tender (our and one more). Both companies carried out the program presentations. As a result, the presentation of competitors pleased more than our. And they agreed to buy, but made an introduction with us (maybe, liked the prices). When we got to the introduction of planning, I calculated the introduction price of this block. The customer did not like this because of the large amount of introduction. The amount and terms misled the customer, because on the presentation our competitors showed how to pass easy and fast from the sales plan to the equipment load in shifts in the production (of course, they shoed on their own demonstration base). And in fact, a number of nuances were met in the customer’s work that must be taken into account on planning. As a result, a way from the sales plan to the production plan was quite heavy, long and did not provide 100% accuracy of the final result. The alternative was to modify the standard functional that required a time and investments. As a result, the presentation of program functionality should be watched, but it must be treated with skepticism.

The ideal scenario. When the presentation is carried out for the customer for the general understanding of system operation. After that, the executor will offer the customer to investigate the enterprise. According to the investigation results, it will be possible to evaluate the introduction cost and to select the software suitable for you enterprise. Since there are many highly tailored industry solutions of 1C. For example: 1C: College, 1C:Enterprise 8. Meat-packing plant, 1C:Enterprise 8. Bakery and confectionery production, etc. Not in all the enterprises there is a sense to use an industry solution instead of the basis supply of 1C. In each individual case, it is required to analyze the needs if customer and to compare with one or another software product.

The best presentation is a presentation with the data of your enterprise, with your work nuances and with the numbers maximally close to real.

What is an automation project?

The enterprise management gave the green light to investigate and write an automation project. First of all, it is required to agree with the executor in advance what the project will contain. Some obligatory project attributes:

Targets. The project targets must be made according to the rules described above. A target should be clearly described, understood by the executor and customer equally and solved by the automation tools. The main target may have the additional targets. For example, to implement a target: «Traceability of the batches of purchased IH and own semi-finished products within the finished production», we need to automate a warehouse logistics (IH purchase, shipment of FP), production logistics (Writing off the batches of purchased IH and batches of own semi-finished products to the batches of finished production), history storage of the production of batches, providing the conditions that oppose re-grading occurrence by batches.

Description of enterprise business processes. In this section the business processes must be described before and after automation, for example, I prefer to describe only those processes that will be automated and their work after automation (to economize my own time and customer budget). In the description of business processes it is very convenient to user the graphical schemes that will be the same, understandable both for the customer and the executor.

Calculation of introduction cost. The work schedule to be executed to achieve the targets, the more detailed plan, the better executor understands his task and more precise the cost evaluation will be performed. If, for example, in the scheduled there is a point «automation of warehouse logistics» and a cost is on the opposite, it indicates a shallow analysis from the executor’s side. Since it is unclear what should be done there: to write a new configuration or develop several reports, or maybe appending a couple of bar code scanners, etc. Cost calculation has to show the final introduction budget distributed articulately.

It is very hard to determine the exact introduction cost in the large enterprises, therefore, I add to the budget in my projects approximately from 15 to 20 percent for all sorts of contingency works. A percentage, of course, depends on the complexity and amount of works, but there is no direct dependence. Intuition and experience usually prompt how much to add in the concrete project. But in practice, this budget item is always popular and is consumed almost completely. So, if your executors will show in the project a similar item, this is normal in the ИТ industry and it should be not disputed because of this.

Whom follow?

During preparation of project documentation, the executor will hold the meetings with the customer, ask about the organization of business processes and propose the solutions. If you do not want to add +1 to the problems of project, I advise you to tell all openly, even if there is somewhere an accounting fraud, it is better to tell this immediately in details. Otherwise, the executor can increase the introduction cost by 30-50% as soon he will know about the new nuances. And sooner or later you will have to tell.

A life example of how it is not allowed to do. On one of the automation projects there was a task to schedule the changeovers and outputs on the production lines. We conducted with the customer a series of meetings in which the foreman and machine-shop manager told about how they schedule and what difficulties occurred in this case, how to solve them. My task is to gather information and move the scheduling algorithm from the head of production worker to 1C. There were two lines, each of lines had its own features, and one type of products was produced only on one line. After gathering information, I spent about a week of non-stop work to write the scheduling algorithm. I described algorithm and sent the calculations and formulas to the customer, he was satisfied by everything. Upon arrival to the customer, I carried out the final presentation of my calculations, then on of the client employees (whom I never saw, by the way, perhaps, he was on vacation) said that in case of pressure both lines can produce one type of products. Everyone looked at him and waved their heads. My algorithms can be torn and thrown out, in this case, it was necessary to start work again, and it is not very desirable to do two jobs for one payment.

One more case. «And I will not tell you». In one enterprise when designing the block of supply management. The purchase manager did not talk about how the enterprise need in the parts becomes the purchase plan for a month. It is understandable, because nobody except this purchase manager could make this plan correctly and he was an indispensable employee of the enterprise. Such phenomena must be stopped by the customer leaders, unless the customer does not want to have a soft spot in his information system.

Therefore, if at the stage of investigation the executor asks to conduct the meeting with a certain number of persons, it should be done in full. If your enterprise has the non-accounting shipments and outputs, this should be informed the executor, because a small nuance forgotten by you can result in a big problem on introduction. If the executor asks to pressure anyone of customer employees, it should be done.

Project manager.

On introduction, our company usually uses to project managers. One manager from the customer side, another – from the executor side. If on the first meeting or before investigation the executor did not offer the customer to select the project manager from his staff, you should think about the competence of executor.

Why the project manager (PM) from the customer side is required? Firstly, he is the basic employee who will take the work from the executors (the programmers came there, they are doing something there, I do not know what but it looks like they are working. Here there are the bills) and coordinate the work of his employees (Programmer asked Ivanov to fill the balances of IH. And Ivanov ignored the programmer). Most importantly, have a control action on his enterprise employees. The customer PM has to immerse his head in the automation project and to put it in first place or, in extreme case (the most extreme), in second. Understand what the programmers are doing there and. most importantly, for what. The customer PM must be technically «skilled», understand the work of his own enterprise and be familiar with IT technologies, be economically competent and, the most important, be a leader and make the strategic decisions for the project.

Most of ordinary users give «a hostile reception» to any automation, because, in their opinion, this is an extra job, total control of their work, opportunities of theft disappear, transform the employees from the irreplaceable to a simple labor force. Such situations occur often enough when the ordinary managers or storekeepers begin to «put a spoke in wheel». Here the customer PM is needed who can «swear» and make the people to work, as the situation requires. The PM position usually is well suitable for such employees as: commercial director, chief financial officer, director of production.

The absence of project manager from the customer or his breach of duty leads to the fact that the executor is left alone with the client problems. We go, for example, with a question to the chief accountant, he sends us and says that it is not concerned him, then to the economists, they send us to the logistics worker, and they say that do not have the authority to resolve the question. There is a question, but there is nobody to solve it.

The project manager from the executor side is a person who coordinates the work of the entire project, develops the strategic and methodological solutions, organizes the work of a group of customer experts, knows the strengths and weaknesses of software product, introduce the work scheme of entire future system.

The main task for both managers is to monitor the quality of works. And if one side starts to go away from the assigned targets, then another should correct. A good practice on the automation projects is conduction of meetings between the customer and executor at least once a week. Even if there is nothing to tell, it is possible just to meet and tell that everything is ok. I usually invite on such meetings, in addition to the project manager, the heads of all structural subdivisions involved in the introduction. Another good practice on the automation project – management of on-line protocol about the errors. In the large enterprises a huge number of questions and modifications occurs that need to be solved. Usually, it all happens via e-mail, but you can organize, for example, via Google calendar, throw there the questions with time limitation and mark the performed work.

What is a Computer Automated Management system (CAM system)?

Form the official definition: «a set of software, technical, information, linguistic, organizational and technological means and actions of qualified personnel designed to meet the planning and management tasks by various kinds of enterprise activity».

CIM is a goal which your enterprise should progress, the main introduction task is a creation of Computer Automated Management System. I want to emphasize that, firstly, an automated, not manual. Secondly, the system, not simply a program. Thirdly, the system of management, not the accounting system. And, fourthly, of enterprise, not a business accounting. A accent all these words, because very often I saw like MBAP (manual business accounting program) is called CAM system. MBAP turns out very often when a customer begins to greatly economize on the introduction and do not allow, thereby, to create CAM system. The result is that the main program task, such as PEM, is a business accounting in which 95% of everything is conducted manually.

Let’s define what constitutes a CAM system.

This is the program itself, for example, on the basis of 1C, for example, Production Enterprise Management or Complex Automation. It may be a set of software tools that are superimposed on each other. As it was mentioned above, in order to make a program maximum suitable to the automation requirements.

Hardware. Server, workstations of users, local network, BC scanners, etc. All hardware necessary for qualitative program operation.

Schedule. The basic concept that turns the program into the system. The schedule developed jointly with the executor and customer determines how to work in the automated system that the users of different services and subdivisions would work simultaneously, not every man for himself.

Qualified personnel. The main word here is qualified, that is, the staff that knows how to work in this automated system in accordance with its functions and schedule.

Automated functions. Another criterion necessary for CAM system. To make the functions executed in the system independent from a too much time of the user and to avoid their ability to turn his work into an endless data input.

Only the presence of all listed components will provides you enterprise with a qualitative and uninterrupted work. The absence of at least one of them will lead to the destruction of CAM system to the level of MBAP.

When introduction will be completed??

If you will not apply to this project seriously, then never. Actually, a time-frame should be set for the introduction that can be, of course, postponed in case of some weighty arguments. But the time-frame should be confined as much as possible. The main task for both the executor and the customer is to keep themselves up and to have time to implement their plans for the time allocated for this. Of course, it is very frustrating when the customer in the last project days recalls “but I still have this problem and I cannot live without it”. Sorry, dear customer. But you had to think ahead, not to remember at the last moment.

Implementation of the stated targets also tells us about project completion. Even if a target is implemented by 80 % (meaning when we can measure the target), this is already a good result. When the target is not reached and the executor says that the introduction is completed, it should be sorted out here. Actually, the executor task is to provide a tool to work and to teach you to use it. But if the customer does not use the provided tools or use it incorrectly, there is no guilt of executors. The steps should be taken that would your employees use the functional according to the schedule provided by the executors.

Will the introduction end when everything will work??? To be honest, it will not, over a period of all the life of your CAM system, from the introduction till the moving to a new system, you will have the desires to modify something or to generate a new report. So that’s fine. And this is already not the introduction, but support.

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