Archive for November, 2012

Prophix seminar Abu Dhabi – Synergy Software Systems – CPM

November 29th, 2012

Happy faces at the end of the prophix seminar lunch in the Grand Millenium hotel Abu Dhabi.

I am grateful to the speakers for all their research and preparation. Some of the key messages they shared include:

  • Adoption of formal CPM systems is a clear differentiator between successful businesses and laggards. Major reasons for this difference in bottom line results  is the strategic empowerment of the  Office of Finance, and the enhanced decision making of operational users who can access up to date information on their performance, get timely reports and can easily drill from dashboard kpi to the relevant level of detail  by multiple criteria
  • Choosing a system requires consideration of many factors:
    • How will it really help the organisation?:
    • Compliance and control without extra risk and cost
    • Automation of non transactional finance processes: budgets, approvals, reports, consolidation
    • Error reduction
    • Faster and better informed decision making
    • Cost reductions
    • Value added – what can we do more or better with the time we save?
    • Turning data into information- kpis, dashboards, trends, exceptions, visual workflows, drilldown and drill across, what of options, delta analysis: units, geographies, brands, time  etc.
    • Ease of use- will users resist or adopt does it make processes easier to follow or just add bureaucracy? Familiar technology, comments, favourites, templates, wizards, filters, etc.
    • The right tool needs the right implementation scope and the right project and support team both internally and externally.
    • How will others view such a system? Auditors. Financers? Regulators?  Will improved planning and budget control encourage investors? Will a formal system add value to your balance sheet?

Ingersoll Rand eVAYO Time and Attendance and Access Control systems

November 29th, 2012

 Synergy Software Systems implements and support the Schlage hand punch solution, which attracted a lot of interest at our Stand in Gitex.

Interflex is a  powerful T@A and Access control software that has been used by major clients such as ports and airports, olympic events, football stadiums, construction sites, offices etc and extends to rostering, visitor management etc.

The new eVAYO product family consists of the IF-800 terminal for access control, the IF-5735 terminal for time & attendance recording, and PegaSys Office, an electronic lock for offline access control. With these three solutions, Interflex sets new standards in time & attendance recording and access control. The result: Maximum reliability and unlimited security

Prophix Corporate Performance Management seminar Dubai

November 26th, 2012

A very interesting seminar at Microsoft Gulf offices  sub-titled Faster year end Close was attended by participants from as far a field as KSA, Bahrain and Fujeirah.

After welcome and introduction by Executive Director Jennifer Vaz, her co -Director Stephen Jones outlined the reasons to adopt a formal system, the factors to consider, and presented some research and analysis and statistics by the Aberdeen Group on what a signifcant difference this makes to the bottom line results of companies.

Kevin Ashby, Application Platform Marketing Manager, Microsoft Gulf then discussed the power of the Microsoft technology platform that underpins the unified Prophix solution – starting with SQL 2012 with SSIS, and SSAS, SSRS, and integration with SharePoint,  then looking at the analytical powers provided by Power Pivot, Power View, and a look at how Hadoop will support ‘Big Data’.

Prophix VP and International Partner Manager  Alok Ajmera had flown in from Canada over the weeked and showed no sign of  jet lag when he gave a stimulating presentation backed by industry reserach from Gartner, BPM and other industry bodies. His final thoughts were that if you don’t have a CPM solution now, then you will have one within 5 years, and that the leaders in adoption are significantly outperforming the laggards – so, the sooner the better!

Srinivasan Subramanian from Danaone gave an insight into his Company’s sucessful implementation of Prophix both for Financial budgeting and Sales and operational planning. He emphasised lessons learned  e.g. not to underestimate the work of migrating legacy data. he cited a  major busienss benefit of end users being able to access on-line and up-to-date relevant budget performance information by user specified dimensions  without being dependent on the finance department. Automated workflow processes and a ‘report binder’ for scheduled report distribution were other key benefits highlighted. This session triggered many user questions.

After break, Synergy Principal Consultant Byron Napwora presented an overview of the key system components and features followed by a live demonstration.  Again a lively question and answer suggestion followed  indicating the great interest of the participants and the discussions continued in one-on-one sessions throughout lunch.

Still time to join us tomorrow at Abu Dhabi.

erp project failure – what can Dubai companies learn?.

November 26th, 2012

The U.S. Air Force has  scrapped a US$1 billion, ERP (enterprise resource planning) software project concluding that finishing it would cost far too much more money for too little gain.

The Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS), , “..has not yielded any significant military capability,” an Air Force spokesman wrote  in an email statement last week. “We estimate it would require an additional $1.1B for about a quarter of the original scope to continue . The Air Force will instead need to use its “existing and modified logistics systems for 2017 audit compliance,” the statement adds.

Meanwhile IBM has been hit with a multimillion-dollar lawsuit by chemical products manufacturer Avantor Performance Materials, which alleges that IBM lied about the suitability of an SAP-based software package it sells in order to win Avantor’s business. “IBM representatives assured us that its Express Life Sciences Solution, a  pre-packaged software solution, was suitable to run Avantor’s core business processes,” says John Steitz, President and CEO of Avantor. “In fact, the solution—and the service and support offered by IBM throughout the implementation—proved to be woefully misaligned with the unique needs of our company and our customers.”

IBM also violated its contract by staffing the project with “incompetent and reckless consultants” who made “numerous design, configuration and programming errors,” it states. To conceal the System’s defects and functional gaps, IBM ignored the results of its own pre-go-live tests, conducted inadequate and truncated testing and instead recommended that Avantor proceed with the go-live as scheduled — even though Avantor had repeatedly emphasized to IBM that meeting a projected go-live date was far less important than having a fully functional System that would not disrupt Avantor’s ability to service its customers,” the suit states.

The resulting go-live, which occurred in May, “was a disaster,” with the system failing to process orders properly, losing some orders altogether, failing to generate need paperwork for U.S. Customs officials and directing “that dangerous chemicals be stored” 

IBM, meanwhile, has already pocketed over $13 million in fees from Avantor for a systems implementation project it mismanaged and was unable to perform properly,” the lawsuit states. “Incredibly, IBM is now seeking to profit from its misconduct by demanding millions of dollars in additional fees to redesign and rebuild the defective System it implemented.”

IBM said it disagreed with the claims and will defend itself against them vigorously. “We believe the allegations in the complaint are exaggerated and misguided and are surprised that Avantor chose to file suit,” a spokesman said via email. “IBM met its contractual obligations and delivered a solution that Avantor continues to use in its operations.”

Avantor’s suit does state that IBM made efforts to right the project’s course, albeit ultimately ineffective ones, following a June meeting with Avantor’s then-CEO, Rajiv Gupta. IBM “began to acknowledge the severity of the situation” and replaced many of the original consultants, according to the suit. These workers did extensive redesign and programming.

In July, “IBM told Avantor to cancel every pending order and reset the entire System in light of pervasive warehouse problems,” it states. “IBM said this was necessary to discover the root cause of the problem. Ultimately, IBM acknowledged that it had to engage in extensive remedial efforts to redesign and rebuild the System that Avantor hired it to deliver.”

Numerous” IBM workers have told Avantor personnel that IBM failed to manage the project correctly and use SAPbest practices,” according to the complaint. IBM workers even called the project the worst SAP implementation they’d ever seen, it adds.

These are not unqiue cases  – in 2011:

  •  the UK government scrapped the £12 billion National program for IT in the NHS.
  • New York’s massive CityTime payroll system project, which has been wracked by cost overruns and a criminal probe into an alleged kickback scheme involving former employees of systems integrator SAIC and a subcontractor, TechnoDyne.
  • In April, massive technology distributor Ingram Micro announced that problems with an SAP project in Australia had made a significant dent in its first-quarter profits. Net income stood at $56.3 million, a drop from $70.3 million in the same quarter the previous year, Ingram Micro said at the time. The shortfall was “primarily attributable to difficulties transitioning to a new enterprise system in Australia,” it said.
  • In May, Montclair State University in New Jersey filed suit against Oracle, claiming the vendor had completely botched a PeopleSoft project that was supposed to replace the school’s aging legacy systems.  Because of Oracle’s alleged misdeeds, it might cost up to $20 million to finish the project, Montclair has claimed. But Oracle quickly fired back, claiming that the problems were the school’s fault.  “When issues arose during the course of the project, it became clear that MSU’s leadership did not adequately understand the technology and the steps necessary to complete the project,” Oracle said in a court filing. “Instead of cooperating with Oracle and resolving issues through discussions and collaboration, MSU’s project leadership, motivated by their own agenda and fearful of being blamed for delays, escalated manageable differences into major disputes.” Montclair recently filed an amended complaint that adds a wealth of detail to its claims, including an allegation that Oracle ran a “rigged” software demo during the sales process and was also guilty of extortion.
  • Outdoor furniture seller ParknPool took Epicor to court in late November over a “big mess” of an ERP project that  Epicor said they could do it in seven weeks. “We gave them seven months, and we got zero,” he said in the interview. “I couldn’t even look at a profit-and-loss statement. We couldn’t process orders. Epicor denied wrongdoing: “Our products, consulting personnel and partner performed well, all of which Epicor believes will be borne out as we defend our position in any proceedings.”
  • In February, the government of Marin County, California, sued Deloitte Consulting and SAP in federal court, claiming they had “engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity” of more than $20 million in connection with a failed ERP project. Marin County  sued Deloitte in a lower court  claiming that the systems integrator had dumped inexperienced workers on the project, which led to the problems. The county decided to rip out the SAP software and replace it with something else, in the belief that doing so would be a lower-cost option to finishing the job.Its suit alleges that SAP and Deloitte are in violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations act (RICO). Under the statute, the county’s desired $35 million in damages would be tripled.Marin County later said that SAP enticed it into joining a “Ramp-Up” early adopter program for the software suite, a move it claims ended up contributing to the project’s failure since the software was new and risky.SAP and Deloitte both denied any culpability. Deloitte called Marin County’s federal suit a “frivolous” tactic and an attempt to get a more favorable legal forum for its claims, while SAP has questioned why it would want to collude with Deloitte on a project that was doomed to fail,

What are the lessons?

Software is not enough. Proven software reduces risk. Proven consultants who see the project through are more important.  What is good for one company may not be good for yours – clear requirements are essential to get desired results – demos need to be relevant to your need if you ask for a dmeo then you get one – if you don’t provide a clear company brief and expectations, and test data and scenarios, or invest in a detailed scoping exercise, or defining business processes then  you can’t blame the vendor for showing his solution in the best light nor that you chose to buy it on that basis.

If something sounds too good to be true then it probably is – low cost, perfect fit, out of the box, rapid implementations etc may be what you want to hear but do you really believe it ? If you deliberately buy cheap and hope to squeeze the vendor who takes the blame when all goes wrong?

How much project management is  required from both sides. If you do not allocate resoutces for this, nor expect to pay the implementation partner to provide a project manager then how will problems be identified and managed?  The bigger and the more complex a project he more staff it needs and the harder it is to get suitable resources, the longer the project the more chance the goals will change the technology will change the available resources will change. 

QA is part of the process not something that is added afterwards, it is the users job to test and declare statisfatory not the implementation partner.  If the small print says out of the box reports and workflows then have you checked that those are adequate, if it says you have to load you own data or create your own documents do you really know what that involves and have you really understood the workload and skills.  

If you follow  a process of evaluating and selection (partner and product and own team) , preparing, defining building, testing, documenting training piloting, auditing, supporting all packaged with managment and review and reporting then how can it fail at the end? What is the hidden cost of your own team being tied up twice as long as needed to achieve half the result?

Nothing wrong with implementing fast and cheap – but if there is a significant different in partner estimates  do you really understand why  – what is really included and not included – why is yours the one special project that can implement in half the time with no risk?

Why do we stress such matters so much in our implementation, why do we walk away from some sales rather than cut corners,  why do our customers say “go with Synergy and sleep at night.” For all the doom and gloom of high profile project failures the blame is seldom clear cut and there is usually a large dash of wishful thinking on both sides.   The good news is that by focusing on proven solutions, with realistic phased implementation scope, delivered by certified and experienced consultants following proven processes we regularly deliver on time on budget projects.  It also takes two hands to clap and we ensure the customer understands their contribution and where we need to help.

Office 2010 discount prices – hurry!

November 21st, 2012

Final call for you to take advantage of Office 2010 25% discount promo.

Starting next month Office price will go up by approx. USD 100 per license.

To take advantage of this special pricing please contact us as soon as possible.

Dynamics Ax is certified compatible with SQL 2008 SP3 and R2 SP2

November 20th, 2012

Compatibility between the released versions of Dynamics AX and SQL Server 2008 :

Microsoft Product Dynamics AX Versions
SQL Server 2008 SP3 Dynamics AX 2012, Dynamics AX 2009
SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2 Dynamics AX 2012, Dynamics AX 2009

IT industry tabloid headlines

November 18th, 2012

Sinofsky leaves Microsoft, McAfee goes on the lam, secret emails bring down chief spy Petraeus

Antivirus pioneer John McAfee a  multimillionaire who createda single executable that could scan for and clean multiple computer viruses is a fugitive from justice wanted for murder in his adopted home of Belize, and also accused of manufacturing drugs and consorting with criminals and underage girls, ( feature article on Gizmodo). McAfee first went on the lam in Belize after being accused by local authorities of running a meth lab.

General David Petraeus resigned as CIA chief, brought down by an FBI investigation of emails sent by his secret lover. If the head of the country’s intelligence community and his girlfriend, a former counterintelligence officer, can’t keep their emails private, then…..? “The best way to protect yourself is to simply realize that privacy doesn’t necessarily exist in the electronic world,” said Dan Ring, a spokesman for the security company Sophos. “Simply put, if you don’t want it out there in the world, don’t put it in the electronic world.” emails generally lay out the tracking information — where they originated and what servers they touched along the way.

Steve Sinofsky, the man who fixed the Windows Vista debacle and championed the radical OS overhaul that became Windows 8, left Microsoft suddenly this week.Known for an abrasive style it seems likely that the real reason for his move is ambition likemany other top Microsoft leaders who made the same decision over the last five years, including former CTO Ray Ozzie, Server & Tools chief Bob Muglia, and Business Division leader Jeff Raikes.

What will 2013 bring for Dubai and Synergy Software Systems

November 18th, 2012

 “If we go off the fiscal cliff, it impacts the Gulf, it impacts China, it impacts the world — because of the integration of the various economies, we’re globalised. And therefore what happens in the United States will have a major impact elsewhere. The price of oil, if that goes down, what does that do for revenues for the region? ” William Cohen, a former Republican senator who crossed party lines to become Bill Clinton’s secretary of defence during the latter’s second term

Meanwhile Moody’s report on  outlook for the banking system of the UAE remains negative with Dubai-based banks in particular facing asset quality challenges,

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned the Gulf economies to reduce government spending to prevent their budgets from falling into deficit within the next five years or so. In that note, the IMF noted that the outlook for the oil  was “extremely uncertain”.

The UAE’s dependence on oil, as well as core sectors of trade, services, global logistics and tourism, continue to make the local economy sensitive to macro risks of weakened growth, global recession and low oil prices.

“The fiscal cliff specifically is one of the major ways in which the slow recovery that we have could be completely derailed,” Hard landing in China. Euro collapsing. Problems in the Middle East. And fiscal cliff is probably paramount in that area. We just met with a dozen of the largest high-tech company CEOs in the country. Not only are they hoarding cash — all their customers, all their suppliers are. They’re scared to death we’re going to go over this cliff and it could be a catastrophe.”Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of investment banking  Goldman Sachs. In an interview with CNBC,

The pessimist will see that Banks are tightening  asset quality and liquidity, companies are sitting on $1tr++ of cash, so investment is not happening. The risk of collapse in Europe, especially Greece seem to increase daily.. Italy Spain and Portugal are close behind and even Germany is seeing a downturn. The western world has an aging population, China with a one child policy has an even bigger aging challenge. Some estimates suggest that if Greece left the euro then the value of its currency would halve and that the impact on the European economy would see oil prices go the same way

Regional tension with Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Iran,and Afghanistan  have contributed to higher oil prices than might be expected in a global recession – but for how long? New oil supplies from Venezuela , and Africa,  and shale oil from USA and Canada  will reduce the need for Gulf imports. the withdrawal of US and UK forces may destabilise the region, and reduce the work for defence logistic companies.

So where is the scope for optimism. The region has long identified the need for diversification.  Investment in infrastructure e.g, new ports, railways and airports across the region will provide new opportunites, for example for export into Africa which is fast expanding. Most gloabl companies have shed excess costs and are now much leaner and more cost competitive. At some point companies will want to spend that cash and earn some reward.  Major technology changes have driven growth in new sectors e.g tablets, and notepads. The cloud and SOA may be the next game changer.  New tools and concepts like ‘Big Data’, pervasive BI, cross platform workflow tools, more ingenious use of RFID, social media tools, and a greater awareness that CRM is about relationships and not just about sales transactions, are all changing the way business is done and creating new opportunities. This region has a modern IT infrastructure and  a high adoption of  new technology.  E government and its future extension across the Gulf will further streamline business operations and cut costs. Gul Governments have generally shown great prudence in balancing budgets and in ensuring high standards are met by all businesses.  The debt problems may have been restructured but they have not gone away. High oil prices will not last for ever, but they have provided a nest egg to underpin infrastructure investment. 

The world had a long boom and it may have an equally long recession and many problems will not get resolved overnight. Synergy has seen 5 major wars in the region since its formation and that does not include any of the Arab spring disturbances. The region is better placed than most to weather the ongoing recession. As Dubai matures with enhanced facilities and  lifestyle it becomes easier to attract toutists, and more important to attract and retain high high quality staff. That emphasis and awareness of the importance of human capital will increase competitiveness here while it reduces it for those countries that cannot offer  the same opportunities at home.

In an increasingly competitive world we believe there will still be a need for lean operations, automated systems, powerful analysis tools, and high quality consulting and support.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi event – CPM seminar

November 18th, 2012
  • Close your year end faster
  • Get your budgets signed-off on time
  • Esnure informed timely reporting, with alerts, and dashboards and kpis
  • Satisfy sharehioder and auditor compliance

One week to go before the CPM  seminars with Prophix and Microsoft in Dubai 26 November 2012 and and Abu Dhabi 27 November 2012.

Why is this so important.?

  1. Leaving aside the CPM analysis and reporting features I think one of the key features is to better manage the overall budgeting and consolidation processes – a group with 10 companies each with 5 divisions, and each division with 10 cost centre is potentially pushing out 500 spreadsheets via email which have to be tracked and expedited and  cut and pasted into one master budget. Then inevitably there will be one or two revisions, so over 1000 spreadhseets now. Maybe repated quarterly!
  2.  There will always be the 10% who hold up the process, and the 1% of manual errors that have to be redone.  Then the CEO wants  the numbers revised , so it all has to be done again  
  3. You soon end up with conflicting different versions, a lot of tight deadlines and a shortage of midnight oil and we haven’t got to things like currency conversion, and analysis of predicted kpis and cashflows, or year on year comparison, or whether we can make things easier by phasing this year on last year’s numbers, using break back and smoothing formulas, comment s and analysis, and teport binder distribuion   etc…
  4. As a CFO I would like to get home at a reasonable hour, and not have the risk of not being able to understand or to justify or to validate my numbers, nor miss deadlines , nor end up with budget I can’t deliver.
  5. There is increasing need for compliance. SOX puts direct responsbibility on C executives to implement appropriate control and execution systems.
  6. This region has had its share of high profile fraud cases. A  major group needs the right tools. 
  7. A formal easy to use system  system like Prophix will keep auditors and financiers much happier and make  it easier to refinance loans when the system is seen to be formally controlled with built in user definable workflows, monitored results, analysed with drill down drill through and drill across features, which are reported on in a timely manner with clear audit trails. 
  8. Prophix adds value to a company – it is not an IT expense, but an investment that can be capitalised as a fixed asset and be used as security s, and that will add tangible  value if the company is sold.
  9. Best of all Prophix is easy to use and implements quickly and leverages the Microsoft technology stack.

Come and hear thought leadership presentations on best practices in financial management, the future direction of Microsoft, and see a live demonstration of Prophix.

If you have not received an invite and would like to attend and learn more, than please contact us asap:

009714 3365589



SQL Server 2012 SP1 released

November 13th, 2012

SQL Server 2012 SP1 which is  build 11.0.300,0includes all of the fixes from SQL Server 2012 RTM CU1 and CU2, but not the fixes from CU3 and CU4.

 SQL Server Service Packs get more thorough testing than cumulative updates , which means that those are frozen earlier. If you have already installed SQL Server 2012 RTM CU3 or CU4, then we advise you to wait until SQL Server 2012 SP1 CU1 is released.

Microsoft has released full slipstream images for SQL Server 2012 SP1, which lets you install a fresh copy of SQL Server 2012 that will have SP1 installed. (This will also work if you decide to do an in-place upgrade from a previous version of SQL Server (which we don’t recommend).

At the opening day of the SQL PASS Summit, Microsoft announced that it will be adding in-memory technology, codenamed Hekaton, into SQL Server. 

the cost-savings and reduced management complexity it will achieve by folding in-memory technology into its core database, rather than making it a separate add-on.

“You will be able to take advantage of the hardware you already have and acclerate it by adding more memory,” said Doug Leland, General Manager of SQL Server Marketing.

Leland said Microsoft is seeing up to 50 times (not 50 percent — 50 times) performance improvements among the customers already involved in the Hekaton technical preview.

Microsoft Technical Fellow David Dewitt is one of the principals behind PolyBase.  the next version of Microsft’s  enterprise data-warehousing appliance, known as SQL Server 2012 Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW). This product, due in the first half of calendar 2013, will include a new data-processing engine (PolyBase,) which is designed to enable queries across relational data and non-relational Hadoop data.