Ineffective Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems can impact significantly on a business. To the relief of many a decision maker, one local service provider has introduced an offering that its developers say is able to accurately provide insight into problems and possible solutions.

The service is called a Pulse Measurement, and is an interview-based diagnostic intervention which is the brainchild of Dr. James Robertson, an author and recognised voice within the IT and ERP market.
Robertson runs James A Robertson and Associates (JAR&A), an established service provider within strategic application of business information systems.
The company believes that the Pulse Measurement service is making a critical difference to decision makers that struggle to derive value from ERP and cannot decipher where the problem lies.
The service involves Robertson asking a limited number of well-tested strategic questions that are designed to gain insight into a business and its system problems in the shortest possible time.
He works on the basis of sixty minute one-on-one interviews, starting with the CEO and the rest of the executive team, followed by managers responsible for the systems, and then staff operating the systems and technical staff, consultants, implementers and so on.
The system is concurrently inspected and data, source code, manuals and other operational elements are inspected and interrogated as necessary.
Only those whose input is directly relevant to the stated problem are interviewed, and others will be drawn in as required.
During the interviews, Robertson constantly weighs up the information provided against his diverse experience of conducting Pulse Measurements for over twenty years, and his involvement in the commercial application of computers for over thirty years.
“With this context and the catalogue of factors causing failure and factors required for successful outcomes, we are to very rapidly arrive at a diagnosis of the cause or causes of the problem or problems,” says Robertson.
This provides a basis for further questions during the high level interviews and defines the line of inquiry as his investigation drills down to the operational side of system operation.
"Using this technique, I frequently have a good idea of the cause of the problem by the time I leave the CEO’s office and, in most cases, I know pretty nearly exactly what to look for in the technical evaluation by halfway through the first day."
Why commission a Pulse Measurement
Most clients approach Robertson to undertake a Pulse Measurement because executive management is frustrated with their ERP or other IT investment.
Typical drivers for an investigation include:
* The business has had this system for 10 years, should they be changing to something newer?
* They have spent millions on this system, and still cannot get the information they want – what is wrong? Did they buy the wrong system?
* The implementers keep being told that they should have another brand of ERP. How do they know if this is correct?
* The cost of running this system keeps climbing, what should they do?
* They are just frustrated with this thing, and are just about ready to go back to a manual system.
The Pulse Measurement is geared at answering all these questions, and any other of similar ilk within a period of one to 10 days – depending on the size of the organisation and the complexity and severity of the problem.
According to Robertson, the basic implication of this approach is that managers are able to gain an impartial, expert opinion on the health of their ERP within a few days at a very affordable cost.
He makes it clear that James A Robertson and Associates and this service are independent of all software vendors and implementers, and they will "tell it like it is" as required.
"My default position is to retain and leverage the existing investment in software and service provider relationships, but there are times when radical change is justified.
“For a modest investment, you can obtain clarity on the real issues with regard to your ERP operation, a clear understanding of what is required to remediate the situation, the reassurance that things are not as bad as they seem to be (or maybe worse) and, potentially, savings of millions of rands.
"In some cases, a Pulse Measurement is all that is required for management to take appropriate decisions and bring things under control," he concludes.