- According to Google, one of the highest-listed SAP expert witness companies is Panorama Consulting.
- This is why it was interesting to see how bad their articles on SAP expert witness work are.
The following quotes are from the Panorama Consulting article Confessions of an SAP Expert Witness. This is one of the top articles according to Google for the term “SAP expert witness.” Let us check the quality and accuracy of this article.
Claim #1: There is No Correlation Between ERP Failures and the Specific ERP Software Implemented?
Over the past 15 years, we have successfully managed a number of complex ERP implementations — ranging from SAP to Oracle, to Microsoft Dynamics to Tier II ERP implementations — and have the battle scars to show for it.
In addition to managing implementations, we’ve also been called upon to provide ERP expert witness testimony and analysis for some of the highest-profile ERP and SAP failures in the industry, many of which you’ve probably heard or read about. This experience as an ERP and SAP expert witness has provided many valuable lessons that can help organizations avoid failure and make their projects more successful.
Just as a side note and point of clarification, our independent research shows that there is no correlation between ERP failure rates and the specific ERP software implemented. However, SAP just so happens to have some of the highest-profile Fortune 500 clients — with pockets deep enough to afford legal battles — so many of the lawsuits we’re hired for relate to SAP implementations.
Lawsuits correlate to how inaccurate the information software vendors and their consulting companies provide to prospects during the presales process. This is probably the number one determinant of software failures — and SAP is one of the vendors and their consulting ecosystem that provides very high amounts of inaccurate information to prospects. Also, if Panorama, which has basically zero prominence in SAP, and is not a research entity, has this research, why is there no link to the research?
Furthermore, AWS has many large customers with deep pockets that can afford to sue, so why are lawsuits against AWS so rare?
Claim #2: SAP Failures are Rarely About the Software?
When looking at SAP failures, it is easy to get stuck in discussions about system configuration, system integration, poorly written customization code, and functionality of the software, but these minute details are typically indicators of deeper root causes. For example, poor project management, lack of organizational change management, and inadequately defined business process workflows are often the causes of some of these symptoms.
They are not minute causes. They are core issues as to why SAP projects fail.
For example, a significant reason SAP projects have so much custom development is that SAP and their consulting partners routinely lie about how much functionality exists within applications and how high the fit is between the SAP application and the prospect’s requirements. Then after the implementation begins, the list of custom developments continually grows throughout the project. Then because there are too many development items, there is a weeding-out process whereby only the critical developments are funded, and the rest are orphaned. This happens in nearly every SAP project. That is why the amount of custom development is essential and critical to understanding the false information provided by SAP and their consulting partners during the presales stage.
Inadequately defined business process workflows are not the primary cause of these issues — but this is something that people who do not know the software sufficiently and are more of a project manager would write. And there is a reason Panorama thinks this. Panorama does not employ expert witnesses with a deep background in SAP. Therefore, their expert resources don’t really know the details of SAP projects and therefore, they try to stay as far away from the technology and away from the details.
And this leads directly to the following claim by the article.
Claim #3: It Is All About Change Management?
Poor organizational change management is the only issue that we can definitively say was a key contributing factor to each and every expert witness case we’ve been involved with. In each case, user resistance, unclear understanding of business processes, roles and responsibilities and poor training are some of the change management issues experienced by the implementing organizations.
Too often, organizations that have suffered SAP or ERP failures had implementations that were too focused on technology issues rather than the more important business process, people and organizational issues.
This is precisely what SAP says. No matter how big the SAP failure, SAP and SAP consulting firms claim, the only issue is the lack of change management on the project. Change management means getting the customer, who was misled about SAP’s capabilities during the sales process, to throw away their value-added processes and adopt SAP’s generic strategies.
This is another indicator that this author thinks that technology and functionality fit to requirements have low relevance, and the project is about making the company change its processes to match whatever functionality SAP offers. I cover this topic in the article How to Understand the Misdirection of SAP Change Management.
SAP uses a false concept which I cover in the article Best How SAP Uses Best Practices to Control the Implementation, which it uses to deflect criticism from its customers when it becomes apparent SAP and their consulting partner exaggerated the fit between the SAP software and the requirements.
The quote from Panorama continues.
Of all the expert witness cases we have been involved with to date, not a single one had much to do with the software itself. Instead, it had more to do with how the software was implemented.
That is an impossible-to-believe claim. I have been on many projects where the inadequacy of the software was the reason for the implementation failure. I supported a lawsuit where Transportation Manager caused massive delays, eventually leading to the case. It also happens that the application Transportation Manager or TM is a weak application designed for transportation companies but sold to shippers.
Claim #4: SAP Failures Typically Begin Early in the Sales Cycle?
Expert witness work is similar to crime scene reconstruction. In the thousands of pages of documentation available in most cases, we have plenty of evidence (and the benefit of hindsight) to be able to assess what went wrong and when and how it did.
What we find in most cases is that the stage is set for failure early in the sales cycle — before implementation even begins. Mismanaged expectations, poorly reviewed contracts, ill-defined statements of work, poor project plans and a host of other breakdowns early in a project often create a domino effect of a series of failure points throughout the implementation.
This quote revolves around the false claims made by SAP and its consulting partners. Notice that this author does not once blame SAP during the entire article. This is sort of the politically correct article on SAP lawsuits that substitutes not offending anyone or the powerful SAP by being abstract, diluted, and non-specific.
Let’s take the issue of “mismanaged expectations.” Why were the expectations mismanaged? Has this author ever seen SAP marketing literature or participated in an SAP sales cycle? Is this author’s actual position that SAP does not aggressively oversell its software?
Claim #5: Executive Abdication is One of the Root Causes of SAP Failure
The above issues are often symptomatic of even deeper issues at the executive level. Many CFOs or CIOs delegate an entire SAP implementation to a project manager or project team with little to no executive involvement, which is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.
I have not seen this and am quite sure that “abdicate” is not the correct term. Executives at companies are not experts in SAP project management, so usually, the right time would be “delegate.” Yes, executives hire project managers to manage their SAP projects. Unfortunately, the project managers typically come from SAP consulting firms that don’t have their customers’ interests at heart. I have never seen an SAP implementation.
little to no executive involvement
How would that even happen? Major software implementations impact all of the executives. They are curious about when different modules and SAP functionality will come online, and SAP implementations are a significant expense for companies.
Executives need to be engaged, make key decisions regarding how their operations will look going forward, and provide oversight and governance of the project. However, too many executives assume they can abdicate themselves of these responsibilities, which often lead to the issues outlined above.
This is not a problem — they are engaged. The problem is that SAP and the SAP consulting firm provide the executives with a constant stream of false information about the project. Can you imagine a project manager from Infosys or Deloitte being honest with their clients? It will not happen. These SAP consulting firms are highly unethical, and their primary interest is maximizing billing hours out of the account. That is the only metric at any consulting company I have worked with. There is no quality metric for advancement to the partner level. Isn’t it curious that this highly politically correct and neutered article does not even touch on this topic?
Claim #6: The Article Provided Lessons or Insight?
Whether you are implementing SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics or any of the multitude of Tier II ERP systems, these lessons can help you avoid failure and, more importantly, ensure that your ERP implementation is successful.
In this article, I found false information about SAP implementation failures from someone who is both self-censoring and seems to misunderstand the fundamental issues of SAP failures entirely.
Furthermore, it is curious that this author thinks that SAP software has nothing to do with SAP failures and that all losses come down to inappropriate change management.
A Second Article On the Topic From Panorama
The following quotes are from a different article on expert witness work by Panorama Consulting titled What Type of Expert Witness do You Need for Software Litigation Involving IT Failure?
It is not about SAP lawsuits but about IT lawsuits generally.
Claim #7: A Day-to-Day Practitioner is Required?
Most important is the need for the expert to be a day-to-day practitioner rather than someone who worked in the field many years ago and decided to become an expert witness.
What is meant by this, and in what capacity? Secondly, Panorama does not appear to have those with SAP expertise at all working for them, so they must rely on subcontractors for this.
Claim #8: Specific Vendor Application Experience is Not Necessary?
Most cases do not require that an expert has a specific type of vendor application experience. The most common issues present in a failed software implementation are people and process related rather than technology related. It can be helpful to know the functionality a specific vendor application offers, but it is much more beneficial to understand things like industry best practices when looking at root causes of failure.
This seems to contradict the second claim, but again, Panorama does not have resources with significant SAP experience. Therefore if they can convince gullible attorneys to accept this claim, they can work as expert witnesses without the background. First, the claim is false, as most failed SAP implementations are not only due to people and processes rather than the technology. But second, if the expert witness does not understand the software, how do they interpret the documents? If you do not have many years of experience with how SAP and SAP consulting firms operate and the tactics they use, then how do you add value as an expert witness?
This is a list of vendors for which Panorama Consulting states it provides expert witness services. This is 10 vendors. However, Panorama Consulting has only 41 employees, and only a few of them work in the expert witness area. This means that each resource must be able to support around 3 vendors. This is why Panorama Consulting states that vendor knowledge is not necessary.
How Many Law Firms Have Used Panorama Consulting as an Expert Witness?
Look at all these law firms that Panorama Consulting says they have worked for as expert witnesses.
These law firms received very amateurish advice from resources that lacked the background to work as expert witnesses on SAP lawsuits.
Can Panorama Consulting Tell the Truth About SAP Project Failures?
As I have stated, I find little insight in Panorama Consulting’s observations on SAP project failures. However, the article carries forward presenting the inherent assumption that Panorama Consulting is trying to communicate what is true in their article. The reason Panorama Consulting cannot tell the truth, even if they knew what was true — which is debatable — is that Panorama Consulting has financial conflicts of interest that are not disclosed anywhere in the article. Panorama Consulting makes most of its revenue from advising, project managing, and otherwise working on IT projects. In order to keep their sales of these services flowing, they have established relationships with software vendors. For this reason, they cannot do anything to offend these vendors as it would restrict their revenues from this much larger side of their business. And this is the problem with companies that both seek to provide expert witness services — which normally means opposing software vendors and consulting firms (consulting firms and software vendors very rarely sue their clients, and clients file most lawsuits against consulting firms and software vendors). A company that relies on its relationship with software vendors for the implementation work cannot provide honest advice around litigation — unless they keep that information secret.
How Much of This Article Represents What Panorama Resources Really Think?
There is a good chance that Panorama Consulting knows more and has different views internally about project failures than they are communicating here, but due to these conflicts; those views are kept private.
While I can’t say for certain, it is likely that attorneys and customers wronged by SAP and SAP consulting firms will receive weak SAP experience and knowledge as well as neutered expert witness advice.
This is naive and poor-quality advice from Panorama Consulting on the nature of SAP project failures. It is ignorance masquerading as insight and very likely censored information due to Panorama’s undeclared financial conflicts.
Panorama Consulting’s approach to working as an expert witness is to repeat SAP’s talking points about project failure, which conveniently disregards the actions of either SAP or its consulting ecosystem. And they follow the same approach when discussing all vendors so as not to offend these vendors. This way, Panorama can make as much money as possible rather than communicate accurate information. And it also means that if you hire Panorama Consulting for expert witness work, they only have partial allegiance to you because they have much bigger revenues that are dependent upon their relationships with software vendors.
Something of note is that the article has no specifics about any SAP application or database. The reason that Panorama stays ways from specifics is that Panorama does not have expert witness resources that understand SAP products in specific detail to delve into these topics. The article has no author; it also has no link to its purported research.
Nearly all of the lawsuits in the SAP space are against SAP consulting firms and, to a lesser degree, SAP itself. Why would anyone want to hire an expert witness from Panorama Consulting that parrots self-serving claims about why SAP projects fail from SAP? Panorama Consulting markets its expert witness services to wronged SAP customers — however, their allegiance is to the industry.
This analysis was certainly worthwhile as it is another illustration of how bad expert witness services are generally. There should be many more lawsuits against SAP and its consulting ecosystem as there is so much misrepresentation; however, with weak and conflicted expert witness offerings, SAP and the consulting ecosystem can feel generally well immunized against lawsuits.