My Client has more than ten (10) plants all over the Philippines, and each plant have Sales Offices strategically located on major cities and towns. The new Sales and Distribution system that we were rolling out was implemented on these sites - that's close to a hundred sites all in all.

However, the new S&D System, simple yet powerful in capabilities, is running on a stand-alone mode in all of the Sites implemented. This requires the development of an integration software that would allow retrieval of all information in each site, and consolidate these information at the Plant level. Then all Plant level data are consolidated into one Company-wide information database.

Several integration and data warehousing tools are currently evaluated, however, I have to see which one is better suited to the requirements. These include dashboards, and easy-to-use interfaces with built-in models that can present information such us Sales Volume, Customer accounts, Product demand, Delivery Efficiency and some relevant management-critical information.

The hunt is on...

The Zamboanga Plant, as in the other Plants, underwent difficulties during its first day of using the new Sales and Distribution system - here I refer to as the "Cutover". Everybody had a hard time coping up - even though the changes to transactions, and procedures have been communicated long way back, people still have the difficulty in adopting new things.

Very ironic since with this Client, the benefits of the Changes are immense, and these benefits have been proven in the previous roll-out of the new S&D system. As outlined in the blog post "The Painful Road to Change" (my previous post), these new procedures totally change the way Sales, Finance and Logistics do things. As indicated in the previous roll-outs, daily transaction closing efforts and time to be spent are improved 200 to 300%.

Sales people don't have to manually issue invoices to Customers, as these are generated by the new system. Manual computations and reconciliations are already a thing in the past, as the new system fully integrates all information using simple transactions.

The first day of the new system, the Cutover, was filled with so much animosity. But in the coming few days, these indifferences will surely fade away.

Imagine working starting at 6:30 in the morning, then meet with your delivery team to check if all of the customer deliveries for the day are complete, and make sure last minute instructions are communicated. Then prepare your daily Customer information sheets, including your Customer's credit standing, then off, you go your daily rounds as an Accounts Manager - or Salesman in ordinary lingo.

By mid-day, you cut short of your regular customer rounds and visit your customers who have deliveries that day - to issue invoices manually, meaning, using your pen and an invoice form, and write all the products delivered, the quantities, juggling on your calculator to arrive at discounts. Thus you should have all the info as to what a particular customer discount enjoys.

Then you collect cash or check for the deliveries. This you have to do in all customers with deliveries that day. By 6:00pm, you should be back in your office, to settle all your day's transactions, and collections. You should be happy if you're done early - at around 8:00 or 9:00pm, in most cases, due to the manual settlement transactions at Finance, you should be glad if you're done by 11:00pm.

Then, off you go home, kids are sleeping, then you doze off to dreamland. Then you wake up and start your day same as yesterday - and imagine doing that for years... Very interesting, indeed.

... To be continued...

At last, after a thorough review this morning, the Technical Team was able to run the legacy system Accounts Receivable and Sales volume migration into the new Sales and Distribution system. Reports of both systems were generated and reconciled. Only a few minor concerns were noted, and were immediately resolved later in the afternoon.

We used the previous night's transactions cut-off for the migration. All transactions for today, 23-Nov will be encoded manually into the new system.

All system transactions shall commence on Saturday, where all deliveries for Monday will be processed in the system.

It was a pleasant experience for everyone during our meeting. An enlightenment meeting as they said. They realised the reasons of their cutover delay. A good note was sent by the Finance Manager to the Controller regarding the project issues and how those were resolved. May post it here later.

We ended the day at 11:00pm, but, felt fulfilled...

Well I got to finish this one.

After just 2 hours of sleep - nap if some would call it, I was on the 5:10am flight to Zamboanga this morning. After 1 hour and 30 minutes, we landed in Zamboanga, with lots of uniformed and armed policemen. later found out that the chief of the Philippine National Police was my co-passenger.

I rented a van an instructed the driver to bring me to this Nature resort - Woodland somewhere in Zambowood. Well those names sounded like I was and in Singapore.

It was a quiet, relaxing, early morning ride along a narrow road lined with big trees - perhaps, the resort is speaking for itself. Then I remembered the reason why I am here in Zamboanga today - this site's cutover is already delayed for four (4) days now. My team on site - reporting to me myriad of concerns since day one of their arrival (they came 5 days earlier).

I have recommended to the Project Steering Committee in the previous week when I was in Davao that Zamboanga cutover had to be delayed - reasons? Data are simply not signed-off, too much revision requests, poorly prepared, templates not properly filled up, customer master not cleaned up and to simply put it: Data Prep was a mess in this side of the world.

This project involves all of the key functions of my client's organization. We segregated the main activities into three (3) components; Pre-work (Data Preparation) to be managed by the Sales Team, Legacy System cleanup and Migration to be managed by the IT/Technical Team, and the Site Users Training, Cutover and hand-holding support activities which I am managing together with the 12 Consultants we hired, trained in boot-camp and now roll-out experts.

This arrangement enabled us to move from each plants faster - however, this time (as in the case of the previous sites - but not this worse), data preparation activities were simply a failure. Unfortunately, the delay affected the balance activities, and recovering maybe impossible. Lesson learned - this is one of the reasons why companies such as my client, need third party resources/Consultants so that the required dirty work is surely done.

Well going back to the topic, data preparation plays a crucial role in achieving smooth system transition by ensuring all required data are accomplished and submitted, signed-off and cut-off. Data Prep is in the critical path of a project's first milestones.

After a checklist meeting with the whole Zamboanga Team, it was agreed that the migration be run today using 22-Nov transactions, and start the cutover activities tomorrow (Sat). It was a complete turn-around of events, and impressions. Most thought that at the rate preparations were going, Zamboanga may need another week to cutover.

Small victories despite the delay - I should be able to re-configure my next sites' deployment plan easily, and not as complex as earlier feared.

Still, it was a victory.

It was 1:15pm, 45 minutes past my 12:30pm flight back to Manila from CDO and I found myself sitting in the window seat, wondering when will the plane takes off. We were informed that our flight had to wait for an indefinite time before taking off - there were reported traffic problems at the NAIA Airport Terminal in Manila. Somehow it made me think if its another system glitch that plagued the airport systems for the past 3 weeks. As always, flights get delayed or worse, canceled.

I had the comfort to extend my arms wider since nobody is occupying the middle seat of this new AIRBUS 320-200 plane of Philippine Airlines. I noticed the fair, angel looking pretty lady sitting on the aisle seat, giving me that puzzled look as well - asking if we have to wait longer.

Hmmm, problems. I left CDO with some problems resolved - too many exceptions of the new systems procedures to be documented and raised to the project Steering Committee for approval. Perhaps sitting a while longer would just be alright after all. Then came the realization that I am scheduled to take the 5:00am flight to Zamboanga, some 500 miles south of Manila the next day.

Thats trouble I'm gonna get into - no, not bombing or terrorists threats that were always associated with Zamboanga City - a rather common wrong impression about this so called 'Latin City of Asia'. The Zamboanga Plant of my client - the 10th plant to roll-out the new Sales & Distribution system, is plagued by numerous problems - mostly caused by the failure in data gathering activities.

Hmmmm, blog's getting too long. Will have to pause for a while... By the way, the plane finally took off at 2:30pm.

Today also marked another project success. Our Davao Plant Team succesfully migrated the Plant's old system to the new Route Sales to Delivery to Receivables system. Being the 9th Plant to roll out the new S&D system this year, Davao is the biggest Plant in the Mindanao Region. 5 of its Sales Offices are also included, and will be rolled-out to the new system as well starting next week.

My last visit was last week, where I met with the Team and the Plant Team to discuss and resolve several transition issues. I am scheduled to visit next week to oversee the roll-out of one of the biggest Sales Offices.

Today, we cutover to the new system and succesfully migrated the Client's Accounts Receivables and Sales databases. The Cagayan de Oro (CDO) Plant is the 8th Plant to roll-out the Route Sales to Delivery to Receivables system this year.

It's 10:30pm and my team is currently supporting the Users - Sales, Finance, Logistics, and even Customers in completing the necessary daily transactions.

This Plant has been doing daily reconciliations of all Sales and Finance transactions, and complete the entire task regularly at 4:00am of the next day. Reports are generated twice a week, as volume of transactions do not allow daily reporting of Sales and Receivables.

With this new system in placed, all transactions should be closed every 10:00pm, as achieved by the previous 7 plants that are already running the new system. Sales reports and Receivables can now be generated daily. Customer orders are now properly served, and delivery fill-rate should greatly increase, from the current 75-80% to 98% in about 3 weeks time.

This is my first crack at B-Blog. My blogs will be all about the experiences - good or bad, that I encounter as an IT Systems and Business Consultant and Project Manager for various IT projects mostly in the Philippines.

This is also my way of getting in touch with previous clients and consulting colleagues, who are now in different parts of the world.

My name is Roel. And I have been into the Consulting business for more than 10 years. A lot more personal info shall be updated in the About Me section very soon.