Monday, October 22, 2007

E - Complaint portal

Malacca to launch e-complaint portal

MALACCA: The state government will soon set up a website for people to lodge complaints online.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said a private company would set up and manage the website and forward the complaints to the relevant departments and agencies.

“The company would then get their response and forward them back to the complainants,” he told reporters after opening the Bank Muamalat Malaysia branch in Taman Cheng Baru here.

Mohd Ali said a similar online facility would be introduced for elected representatives to handle complaints.

“This would allow the assemblymen to channel the complaints to the state government which would reply to them,” he said, adding that the state government was evaluating a company to design the website.

Symbolic launch: Mohd Ali signing the Bank Muamalat branch’s plaque on Saturday while his wife Datin Seri Siti Asmah and the bank’s chairman Datuk Ismail Shahudin look on.
He said he was generally satisfied with the performance of the elected and appointed representatives, who attended a one-day forum on Friday when the idea of setting up the website was raised.

Mohd Ali said there were also complaints that some promises made by Federal ministers in the last general election have not been fulfilled.

“The elected representatives are in a dilemma as they are answerable to the electorate. We are compiling a list of the promises not fulfilled,” he said.

Mohd Ali urged the Federal Government to allow the state to handle tenders for flood mitigation projects to ensure that they were completed on schedule.

He said the Federal Government had already allocated RM128mil for the project after the floods occurred early this year but so far only RM5mil had been disbursed.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Alternative ERP Implementation Strategies: What's the Best Approach?

Alternative ERP Implementation Strategies: What's the Best Approach?

Eric Kimberling (ERP and Business Consultant)

Last week, we cited an industry article about alternative ways of implementing ERP systems. The article gives an example of a large ERP implementation that challenged the traditional notion of going live via a "hard" cutover at go-live. Instead, the profiled organization stuck to strict deadlines, went live on time, and made changes to the system as needed going forward to address any functionality gaps that were missing at the initial go-live.

In some ways, a more iterative approach to ERP software design, development, and go-live is a refreshing change from the typical project that misses duration and budget milestones. However, there are three significant risks to this approach:

1. Organizational Change Issues. First, this approach creates organizational change management issues. On the one hand, this approach helps create buy-in and ownership of the new system. However, ERP change is significant enough as it is, so going live without having worked through at least the major issues can be disruptive and demoralizing to the average employee. In addition, users become very frustrated when their system changes from week to week due to new enhancements or updates to the system.

2. Business Risk. The organization that was profiled was an educational institution, and the ERP focus was on financial functionality. The article notes that there were problems processing paychecks as a result of going live without hashing out all the kinks. One could argue that a few missed paychecks aren't too big of a deal, but the consequences could be much more severe for a manufacturing or distribution company that finds it can only ship a fraction of its normal volume after go-live. If I were the CEO of a manufacturing or distribution company, there is no chance of me being comfortable with this approach given the high level of business risk and uncertainty around this style of implementation.

3. Lack of Clear Requirements and Functionality. There is something to be said for drawing a line in the sand and saying that you won't go-live with the new system until key business requirements and functions are fully developed and tested. Going live without ensuring that key business needs are met and thoroughly tested is risky and irresponsible at best.

4. Difficulty Managing System Changes. The flexibility of ERP makes a more iterative approach more possible; software can constantly be changed as needed to meet evolving business requirements. However, such flexibility can create somewhat of an operational mess if not managed appropriately prior to and after go-live.

So what's the "right" way to implement ERP, assuming there is a right way? The answer is somewhere in between the two spectrums. There's something to be said for both approaches. The traditional "design-build" ERP implementation strategy has some structure that helps minimize risk, but it lacks some of the urgency that the alternative approach affords. The alternative approach, on the other hand, creates a sense of ownership and urgency by ensuring a broad set of employees are working out the kinks in the system, but it also neglects key functionality that should be in place prior to go-live.

The best thing is to try to get the best of both worlds. Clearly defining requirements and making sure the system meets these requirements prior to go-live is critical. At the same time, there is some value to having people start using the system before all the detailed kinks are worked out.

When we at Panorama Consulting advise our clients through ERP implementations, we typically suggest a "soft" go-live with a core group of employees several weeks before the official cutover, which serves as a way to get people comfortable with the system, test the system using real data, and work out kinks along the way. This helps balance managing business risk with creating a sense of ownership among employees, which is critical to an ERP organizational change management program.

Panorama Consulting Group Home Page

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Huge changes to be made in Public service

Huge changes to be made in public service

Excerpts from the interview with the chief secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan.

STARBIZ: What are your biggest challenges in moving the public sector to be more pro-business?

Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan: We had a sampling involving 2,300 people done before we decided on the change. The feedback is that they want the change and they want it fast and that is the message I got. So to me, challenges are opportunities.

Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan
There are some bad apples in the service that can influence others. What can be done about that?

They are there as there is lack of integrity. But the numbers are small. We have to take quick action. We can first help by providing training, but if the problem is serious – they do not perform or do not fit in – they will have to go.

We have an exit policy but a voluntary separation scheme is a misnomer in the civil service.

Would everyone in the service be subjected to KPIs (key performance indicators), as recently it was announced that the local councils would be?

Yes. Now the secretary-generals have their KPIs. We have to fine-tune it for everyone since the guidelines and circulars are available.

The KPIs may be there, but implementation is critical. We have to continuously monitor to ensure value is extracted from the exercise (and those who deserve to be rewarded do get their dues.)

What are the rewards?

In May, everyone in the civil service got a big pay rise and they should complain no more. Those who work hard and with integrity would get better increments. We would also honour them with titles such as Datuk.

Is there a need to benchmark against others in terms of service?

We would benchmark against the best, and the best could be benchmarking against us. In terms of payments, we are still better at 14 days. As for one-day passport (issuance), we are the most unique globally.

The Prime Minister's Office in Putra Jaya
So the benchmark is us, and therefore, we should give our real best in whatever we do. We can keep on harping that the civil service should move faster but there is no compromise on integrity.

How do you intend to weed out corruption within the civil service?

I speak and believe in simple things. When we raise our children, we always tell them not to lie, cheat and study for exams. The same concept applies here.

Integrity is not about corruption alone. If you are honest, you would to come to work by 8am and not 8.30am or 9am. People who are honest come before 8am and leave after 5pm.

And once you have clocked in, make sure the day’s work is really worth “the ringgit and sens”. Make sure the resources that are under your control – human and materials – is not wasted.

Make sure you handle contracts by following the rules. If you have clients, help the clients if they need help. If all of us have these kinds of values, then the issue of corruption will not arise.

Would you sack anyone if there is a cause?

It is being done. People who are caught are taken to task. We would do it fast as we do not want bad apples.

How can you trace the bad apples?

Having whistle blowers and the private sector can help by reporting any incident. We take complaints seriously. We should not let a few bad apples tarnish the image of the civil service, which to me is rated as one of the best.

Talent management is an issue. How can you resolve that?

We are trying to attract a younger workforce and make it more multi-racial. Surprisingly, there are more Indians than Chinese in the workforce while the vast majority are Malays. Perhaps it is not that attractive, and therefore applications are less.

The basic salary for a graduate is now RM2,800 and that, to me, is attractive. We want to forget about colour or gender and focus on professionalism, as a fresh perspective is vital. We are going to universities to attract graduates early and our website is open for year-round registration.

You reckon you can steer the ship safely to shore?

The response is positive thus far. There can be further improvements. The reward system is merit-based and not seniority-based to encourage people to work hard.

There have been cases where people get promoted very quickly, not withstanding colour or gender.

I practise favouritism, but in the good sense of the word. If they perform, they should be rewarded.

If you are a Sec-Gen, would you like the best deputy around when you are not around or (would you put in) someone who does not perform?

Each job demands the right skills. How is that possible?

Empowerment and training. At the point of entry, we should ensure people hired have the qualifications; and at the interview, we should get people with the right attitude.

Then it is the training part. We have to empower the various ministries to have the right man for the right job.

One percent of the payroll is meant for training, so all the ministries and departments must not be stingy to use the money to enhance the workforce.

How important is Pemudah?

Pemudah is a special taskforce set up by the Prime Minister to facilitate and improve the public delivery system. It is made up of representatives from the public and private sectors.

We meet so often to deliberate on issues and how we can best resolve or facilitate policy or other issues relating to the public delivery system.

The current issue we are working on is to reduce the timeframe for valuation of property to 10 days. We are also starting a one-stop business centre online. We are trying to reduce the approval process for expatriate posting and extend the validity to five years.

We have done quite a bit at Immigration as visas for workers and tourists are all coming out faster. Even though the issue of working permit is still slow, we are establishing facilities so that it is faster.

We have promised seven days and we hope to reach that. Whatever we do, we cannot compromise on the issue of security and that is where Immigration has to be responsible.

Saying is one thing, enforcing is another. How effective would enforcement be this time around?

You have to enforce it, and I am not going to tolerate it (ineffective enforcement). I do not mince my words.

For example, if the price of sugar is RM1.45 per kilo, it should be that. If it is sold at higher prices somewhere, then take action. We cannot compromise and take people for granted. There should also be no compromise on enforcement too.

What would be most gratifying to you?

The public delivery system is massively improved, where layers of bureaucracy are reduced, empowerment prevails. The employees are responsive, fast. There is credibility and integrity.

Customers get friendly service and the people are proud to be part of a very efficient and credible service force that stands at par or is better than the private sector.