Saturday, 1 April 2017

Observations from recent trip to Sth East Asia

At the beginning of March, a mate of mine and I headed off to Asia to look at the "Destiny Rescue" projects we had raised money for. I also took the opportunity to conduct some business and hold some key meetings in Singapore. Below are some of my observations:

  • Corruption is so widespread in Asia, we are lucky to live and work in the country and business environment we do. While our system is not perfect, it is substantially better than in some areas of the world.
  • The poverty in some areas was head spinning.
  • There are so many more important issues to deal with than those we see on our nightly news, TV screens and those that our politicians want to discuss. For example, I can't believe the Victorian government is wasting time, energy and money on gender equalling walk signs. Really!!!, is that the most important issue we have ATM?
  • The Hilton Singapore has THE best breakfast I have every experienced. I generally don’t like hotel breakfasts, they are cold despite the kerosene heated bain-mares.
  • The level of success and work competed by the team from Destiny Rescue in Cambodia blew me away. Robert Webber has done an outstanding job in his time as country manager. Also a big Thank You again to Jeremy Sargent who was the GM Breville Australia when he made the decision to donate a large range of kitchen appliances to Destiny Rescue.
  • I was very impressed by the enterprise of the people in Asia. While it is mostly driven by necessity, it is still very impressive. Every house I saw in the country Cambodia had a stall or shop of some sort selling something. There is no doubt the fact there is no social safety net available contributes to this. Australia could do with a little more enterprise spirit demonstrated by they Khmer.
  • There doesn’t appear to be any depression in these countries. No one goes to their shrink here. Perhaps people like Grant Hackett could do with a little of the Khmer spirit—maybe it would help him deal with his demons.
  • Decent coffee is hard to find. However, the Arabica bean isn’t the only bean with flavour.
  • How wonderful the weather in Asia can be. I was expecting a stifling hot, humid and rainy trip. But we had fantastic weather. Early March is a great time to visit.
  • I was reminded how unfair the world can be. Many people strive for equality in this country when the reality is we can strive for equality of opportunity but not status.
  • I was reminded how far behind the rest of the world the Australian Tax system is. I saw that I could purchase a bottle of Bundy rum substantially cheaper overseas than I could in my home city—and I don’t mean from a duty-free store. I mean in a retail supermarket. If the Government doesn’t do something about our tax system soon, there will be a massive exodus of talent from Aust. This would be disastrous for the country.
  • This notion of opportunities outside of Aust seems to go in waves, I recall my father considering this when I was young. An old idea’s time may be approaching again.
  • I learnt that you don’t have to be a Microsft Dynamics 365 user to leverage the Azure capabilities of machine learning. This opens the door for a number of other ERP systems to compete without having to build their own capability.
I sincerely hope you gain some insights from my observations.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Customer Service - anathema of modern day business

I had some experiences recently that reminded me how important your corporate language is. On both occasions the companies involved overused the wording: "We apologise for any inconvenience caused", "Please hold as your call is important to us". Seriously if I hear these again, I think I will explode. They are so overused they have lost any meaning, except that of: "We don't care about you, you are nothing more than a number to us".

Great service stands out. Companies that provide great service have empowered employees, that is they are able to make a decision that will impact their relationship with you. Not simply follow a process or worse still have some technology manage the process. (I had one company recently that their phone was NEVER off engaged. I am certain it was a policy to get everyone to use their website - disgraceful. I called at all hours of the day on all days of the week and EVERY TIME it was engaged, Thanks for nothing "Ticketmaster" )

Things you can do to ensure you don't follow the masses into that ugly melting pot of disgraceful service are:

  • Have a real human speak to the customer
  • Don't make the customer wait 20 min on hold
  • Actually have a phone number that works
  • Allow your customer service team to fix the problem. Don't constrain them with policy
The level of service in this country is diminishing rapidly. This gives your business a greater opportunity to stand out - make sure you take that opportunity by providing outstanding service. It's the best marketing campaign you can ever have. 

P.S. If there are any budding technology start-ups out there; there is a great opportunity to provide a decent concert and sporting ticketing service out there. One that actually takes the word service seriously. The ones we have at the moment are appalling.

Monday, 23 January 2017

CEO Education

ERP vendors have often described to me their prospects as being in a “raw state”—raw in the sense that they are new to the process, haven’t done this before and are expecting some guidance. While having a prospect eager for guidance is great for the vendor, they find themselves in a dichotomy.

On the one hand, by wanting to provide great truthful advice, some vendors can, unfortunately, place their sale at risk when competing vendors tell a contradictory and simpler story. On the other hand, some clients, while needing the advice, view it with a high degree of skepticism, thinking the advice might be manipulated because, “After all, they are just trying to sell me something.”

There is no doubt in my mind that executives contemplating replacing their ERP system should obtain some education in this process before they embark on their journey. It is critical they understand what it takes to get the best from software vendors and to fully understand how they should behave in the relationship, thereby ensuring they have the right resources and budget to ensure success.

Until recently this education has been sadly lacking, leaving executives to their own devices. This is, in my view, a major contributing factor to the very high failure rate of ERP implementations. It is unacceptable that in excess of 85% of them fail in some form or another. What is also unacceptable is the high number of acrimonious relationships between client and vendor. This is a major reason why there is such a high churn rate between vendors. I know some successful Microsoft vendors, for example, who have based their whole growth strategy on picking up unhappy customers from other vendors.

While this is great for them, my view is that these relationships should not get to the point of failure in the first place.  This situation should not exist. There has been a significant level of pain and financial waste to get to that point. We should do something to stop it.

Some education on what is an acceptable expectation for both parties helps to set the stage for success. Unfortunately, this understanding is currently being forged in the heat of battle.

Should this type of education be available before executives commenced their ERP journey and entered into a relationship with a vendor, I firmly believe the number of executives whose careers are put at risk due to failed implementations would be dramatically reduced, and the success rate of implementations could be in the 80 percentile rather than the failure rate being at this level.

For this reason, I have developed two workshops designed specifically to help executives select the right product in the first place and to show them how to successfully implement their ERP.

For more information on my workshops, contact me on: and have “Workshop” in the subject line.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Microsoft Dynamics 365

Firstly, Happy New Year to everyone. I sincerely hope the Christmas and New Year break was an enjoyable one for you.

I was catching up on some emails & checking my Twitter account this morning when I noticed this posting from a company asking "should you (being your company) upgrade to Dynamics 365 or stay with your current version of AX".

Some quick background for those not in the Microsoft eco-system. Microsoft has recently released their latest cloud ERP offering to the market and called it Dynamics 365. It is a combination of a number of their existing products such as CRM, NAV and AX. They have renamed the AX product as operations in the new version.

Back to this morning... I followed this link and was presented with a questionnaire that was supposed to provide me with guidance on whether an upgrade to the new version was suitable for me or not. I completed this form and surprise surprise, it recommended I consider upgrading. This was in spite of one of my answers indicating I preferred an on-premise solution. So I answered the questionnaire again, this time with a different set of answers. Surprise surprise, it still recommended I consider upgrading. I did this with a third set and I think you know the result...

Software vendors really don't do themselves any favors with blatant tactics like this. It is clearly not designed to provide the customer with any genuine information about what is in their best interests or not, but simply to generate a sales prospect. It is no wonder that over the years so many organisations have got themselves into trouble with ERP implementations. This poor attitude towards the client has to change. And while not all software vendors are in this category - unfortunately, a large portion of the industry is.

Clients of ERP vendors and those considering changing their systems, really do need independent help to sift through this type of rubbish. Just as a buyer's broker can provide great assistance to those who don't buy cars or real estate regularly, an independent ERP consultant can be worth their weight in gold for those who don't buy or upgrade ERP systems often. (On another point, not only because I am heavier than my Doctor would like me to be, I provide great value to my clients, and so am worth a lot of gold ;-) )