Their clients ranged from automobile sales companies to banks. However, most were larger corporations in Thailand in globally.
When the interviewee was asked about cost, they provided me with literature about their services and products. They had standard pricing schemes based on the number of end users, the type of application that system would be used for. They offered a number of different packages for their customers, but they could only go so far in customization. Their systems were Windows based and only operated on XP or above.
When the customer wished to make a purchase, as sales rep went to the customer’s site and met with key personnel. Together they sat down and talked about the needs of the company and decided which package was best for their application. They sometimes had to return several times until a decision was made. The customer was responsible for making certain that their system was compatible and that it met all of the requirements. Since most of these larger clients had an inhouse IT staff, they were often able to handle this process. Once the customer thought that their system was ready, our technical department meets with their technical department to make certain that the company is ready to move onto the next stage. When both parties feel that they are ready to move onto the installation phase, they make the proper arrangements with the company installers.
The installation process is carried out efficiently, as the company has a well-trained installation staff. Case #2s staff tests the system to make sure that it is working properly. The staff then trains key personnel on how to use the system. The company offers technical support for the life of the system. The process is standardized and everyone knows their part. Systems can range from hundreds of thousands of pounds to into the millions. I might note that throughout the session, I had little opportunity to get in the survey questions. It was more like a sales pitch than an interview. However, I was still able to gain some valuable information that related to the research study.
The system that was offered and the services offered by case #2 were not suitable for SMEs and the company did not work with them at all. In the end of the interview, I asked if they had anything for SMEs. That advice that I was given was that there were many companies that offered services that would be more suitable for SMEs, but the respondent would not make any recommendations, just that they were out there.
I asked about the importance of third party consultants for the company. I was informed that the company offered their own set of in-house consultants. They did feel that outside consultants were necessary in companies that did not have the in-house technical knowledge to implement ERP. However, it was stressed that their in-house consultants were experienced with the product that they offered and were therefore best suited for its installation process. This did bring up and important point about the necessity to use a consultant who is familiar with your business and the particular software that is being installed.
When asked what the key objectives of project management were, the respondent answered that the primary objective of project management was to make the process as pain-free for the customer as possible. Their company uses numerous teams and divisions through the planning and installation process. Each teach has a specific knowledge set that is directly related to their particular part in the process. A specific project manager is assigned to each installation. All of the teams must report to the project manager who must handle any problems that arise and make certain that the installation progresses smoothly form the very beginning to completion. Once the project manager’s job is done, the customer is set up our technical support team who will work with the customer to make certain that they are happy with their product from the beginning to the very end. The exact teams involved and how they accomplish their work is a trade secret and the manager with whom I spoke was not willing to reveal those secrets.
I asked how the company manages change and cultural problems that might hinder the adoption of ERP. I was informed that this was an entirely different discipline and that their company did not get involved in this area of the customer’s business at all. Their only role was related to software installation and use. Risk management, change management and cultural issues were the company’s problem to solve. If the customer needed those types of services, they needed to find a consultant that specializes in those areas, but they had nothing to do with the ERP installation process,
The third ERP installation company that was interviewed had around 900 employees and by Thai standards was considered medium range supplier. The person whom I was able to talk to was form the Installation department, as he was the only one free at the time. The company offered a proprietary software that it had developed to be cross-platform and highly customizable to the customer’s needs. It could be made suitable for small to large corporations and could support up to 50 users. This means that they were more suitable for SME’s than the product offered by case #2. The costs of the software package depended on the customer’s needs and whether their base system was ready to go, or whether changes needed to be made there as well. They said that their costs could range from thousands to hundreds of thousands, depending on the need of the customer.
They did not perform installation and upgrading of the customer’s system, as that constituted too much liability by the way of data loss and potential problems that were beyond the scope of the project. They do not engage in activities related to the installation that are actually in the realm of doing the customer’s job. The scope of their work ends with purring the software into place. The customer is responsible for backup and migration of the data and system to the new software. Their company would be there support and to offer advice where needed, but they would not perform this process for the customer. The parameters of where their business obligation began and ended was very clearly defined in the contract that they signed with the customer.
I asked about what constitutes fixed costs and variable costs in the installation process. The IT manager indicated that the only real fixed costs were the prices of the system that the customers would purchase from them, That was a variable that depended on the number of units that they needed to install the system. Once this was determined, it was a known quantity. However, installation was an additional cost to the customer that could not be determined at the outset of he project. There were many variables that could affect the final cost of the project, such as any problems or delays that might occur during the process. He felt that it was important for SME’s to control costs as much as possible, because they have less room to play with than larger corporations. His company did not do installs for extremely large corporations, therefore, it was important for the customer’s sake, to control their costs as much as possible during the installation process.
Regarding the use of consultants, the respondent felt that they were essential to the success of the installation, particularly for SMEs who might not have the technical staff necessary for the successful installation and understanding of the process. He felt that one of the most important roles of the consultant was to help align the goals of the company with the products that they company offered. The most common reason for project failure was miscommunication and unrealistic expectations about the software and its capabilities. Of course, he felt that they were excited about the product and felt that it was an excellent product. However, sometimes customers are looking for a “magic pill” that will fix all of their problems. Of course, we know that this does not exist, but the customer cited this as a key reasons for project failure.
As far as hardware and software specifications were concerned, the respondent indicated that his company offered a wide selection of products and that the customer was certain to find one that would suit their needs. In terms of cross-platform compatibility, they had some problems in the past with clients that had proprietary software, but for the most part, their developers had taken that into consideration and designed systems that would be compatible with the greatest number of client systems and software. The type of hardware, RAM and other parameters depended on the size of system being installed. There was not pandemic answer that would serve every customer need and application.
He said that…