Software // Enterprise Applications
News
12/12/2013
03:10 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail

Avon Pulls Plug On $125 Million SAP Project

Avon halts its global rollout of an SAP order management system after a Canadian pilot project prompts reps to quit in frustration.

An excerpt from Avon's Dec. 11 8-K SEC filing.
An excerpt from Avon's Dec. 11 8-K SEC filing.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
<<   <   Page 2 / 2
KarensBeautyStudio
IW Pick
100%
0%
KarensBeautyStudio,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/13/2013 | 7:27:15 AM
From the Trenches
I am an Executive Leader and one of the top 10 Sales Leaders in all of Canada.  Once the pilot project was actually rolled out,  I lost over half my sales force, along with all the other sales leaders in Canada, as we watched the program they had named *Promise* annihilate our businesses.  Before I continue, I am pleased to say that I have rebuilt and always stayed in the Top 10 in Canada even through this, but rep count and sales were reduced and we are still struggling to hit the same numbers by the end of 2013 that we had in 2012.

This article, from a trenches point of view, is deceiving.  It was not because the technology was too difficult, it was because the technology was flawed.  Initially the Promise Program was scheduled to be launched earlier in 2013 but they were not ready and held back.  It was still not fully ready but I believe it was launched under pressure, in May 2013.  The system did not work correctly right from launch.  There were so many glitches and bugs in the system, that those of us with 10 + years experience, with significant sized businesses saw our reps leave in droves out of frustration.   We in the field would report to corporate that many features of the website were not working but it took much time before they believed the reports.  The website and programming produced so many errors it was impossible to tackle what should have been a simple task of placing orders and registering new representatives.  Representatives were getting locked out of the system just trying to get logged into the new site and the Customer Care Support that was in place had not been increased enough to deal with the calls, leaving reps to be on hold for 45 mins to over an hour at a time.

The article said, "In other words, the technology worked, but it was so hard to use that Avon salespeople -- many of them part timers who network among friends and hold in-home parties -- left the company in droves. That's not consistent with the kind of consumer-grade app experience that has made tablets so popular in sales and retail settings."

The article is making it sound like it was a mere app for an iPad and that just fell short.  An entire new system and website was launched and failed.  The app for the iPad did not allow many aspects of the system to be used and failed as a the sole platform for any rep who only had this as an option, but that was just one feature out of the entire program's failures. 

In my own estimation, of someone who has worked this business for 11 years and has consistently been ranked in the top of the nation, the bottom line is that the website and technology was what failed.  When a system is launched, a few glitches are expected, but the amount in Promise were monumental.  A company cannot introduce something into the field that does not work and expect people to stay in business.  The non stop assurance that things would be fixed were a long time in coming.  It was launched in May and we find ourselves in December now, still dealing with glitches and errors.  It has improved, but for those of us who stuck by our businesses, we have the Promise Battle Scars to show we made it through.

Karen Edwards

 

 

 

 
anon7105122790
50%
50%
anon7105122790,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/12/2013 | 5:11:16 PM
Re: Who did the mobile interface and back-end connections?
The old axiom is that no CIO survives an SAP implementation. I've lost count of the number of SAP implementation horror stories like this one that I've heard through the years.

It appears these stories are fairly well know through the industry, so why do companies keep putting themselves through this wringer? The only one who appears to benefit is SAP. Heck, SAP got $125M out of this one. I'd hate to be part of Avon's IT management right now.
D. Henschen
50%
50%
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
12/12/2013 | 4:43:50 PM
Re: Who did the mobile interface and back-end connections?
We do know that SAP demonstrated an Avon-sales-rep-facing iPad app at Sapphire in 2011, and an Avon executive participated in the demo. But it's not clear that the app used in Canada was mobile or was entirely developed by SAP. Avon's 8-K makes no mention of "mobile" or "iPad," and SAP insists it was only involved in "back end" work. It's pretty obvious Avon was talking about and would want its reps to have a dead-easy iPad app. That's why I ask: Who did the interface and the back-end-connections?
Laurianne
50%
50%
Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
12/12/2013 | 4:07:05 PM
Re: Who did the mobile interface and back-end connections?
This type of iPad application, for roving sales people, is one of the most common. So many companies to learn from already. It will be interesting to hear more about how this one went wrong, whether it was the back end work, the UI, the training...or some of several factors.
D. Henschen
50%
50%
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
12/12/2013 | 3:37:03 PM
Who did the mobile interface and back-end connections?
This deployment clearly involved a user interface -- that's what the sales reps experienced and why they left. It's also a fact that SAP showed off a demonstration (not yet in production), sales-rep-facing mobile app back in 2011 at Sapphire. I don't recall SAP acknowledging the contributions of any partners in that project (developing, say, the mobile front-end or middleware connections to the back end), so I have my doubts about this "we only worked on the back end" claim.

There's a cautionary tale here about highlighting deployments that have yet to be proven in production.
<<   <   Page 2 / 2
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Among 688 respondents, 46% have deployed mobile apps, with an additional 24% planning to in the next year. Soon all apps will look like mobile apps – and it's past time for those with no plans to get cracking.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest - August 20, 2014
CIOs need people who know the ins and outs of cloud software stacks and security, and, most of all, can break through cultural resistance.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.