‘Destiny 2’ makes up for the sins of the original

For all the hype surrounding the title, the original “Destiny” didn’t make a good first impression. It came across as a convoluted mess that mixed Bungie’s excellent first-person-shooter pedigree with a massive multiplayer online game.

The story was wallpaper plastered over an intriguing universe and a complicated leveling system. But something happened as “Destiny” evolved with the times. Bungie eventually improved on its concept with three expansion packs and several updates. The developer learned from its mistakes and capitalized on a sequel.

“Destiny 2” starts off with a bang that immediately establishes the stakes and characters important to the storyline. The Red Legion launches a surprise attack on the Guardians, stealing the source of their power, the Traveler, and conquering the last city on Earth.

As survivors of the assault, players become key members of the resistance. This sequel fixes the sins of the original by forcing players to earn everything from the ground up while guiding them through the ins and outs of gameplay and spinning a conventional but compelling tale.

Players will have to find their speederlike Sparrow and new ships via Bright Engrams that enemies randomly drop. They’ll have to go on missions, in which they venture into the dark forest and unlock the subclasses for their Titan, Hunter or Warlock characters. Meanwhile, “Destiny 2” uses its story, elaborate worlds and side missions to ease the grind toward level 20 and the end of the campaign.

Although the narrative is predictable, it does have a fascinating villain in Dominus Ghaul. He’s someone who desires the Light of the Traveler, but doesn’t understand why it chose humanity to bear its power over his Cabal Empire. He’s more three-dimensional than most video game adversaries. It’s a shame that players don’t encounter him more often before the last battle.

With a clearer narrative, “Destiny 2” focuses more on the gameplay. The creators of “Halo” don’t stray far from the path of the original. They double down on the elements that made it great — the cooperative gameplay. This campaign isn’t meant to be played alone, though one can.

It’s better when players form three-member fireteams and go through the adventure together. That’s how players can maximize their abilities and take on tougher missions. Titans are the vanguard that specialize in taking damage on the front lines. Hunters specialize in movement and damage dealing while Warlocks are healers who have devastating attacks. The subclasses offer varying takes on those roles.

Adding friends increases the chaos as they wander through the four major worlds, public missions and storyline quests that include armored vehicles this time around.

The big change to combat is the separation of weapon classes. Players now carry a kinetic and energy weapon in two slots. Shotguns, sniper rifles, rocket launchers and swords are shifted over to the heavy weapon slot. Most of the time players will switch between kinetic and energy weapons depending on what type of enemy they’re fighting. They’ll rely on the heavy weapons for the bigger foes.

The only minor issues with “Destiny 2” is the jumping that still takes getting used to. Newcomers will die a lot as they adjust to the maddening peculiarities of the floaty double jump. Bungie offers some alternatives with a warping blink leap, but it is still a problem. The other quibble is the variety of enemies. For a game this big, it’s disappointing that many of them are reskinned version of other foes and take the same type of tactics to defeat.

Still, those annoyances don’t mar a great experience. “Destiny 2” is more polished. Even the Crucible, which is the player-vs.-player component is decent even if one is plastered by impossibly skilled opponents online. There’s still an opportunity to earn gear, which helps improve players’ strength in both modes and keeps them engaged.

Like its predecessor, “Destiny 2” will improve over time. Bungie will refine an already well-oiled machine. The team has proven that it will continue to support the community they built around the franchise, and it should make fans excited to see where the series goes.


‘Destiny 2’

3 ½ stars

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC (October)

Rating: Teen

The 12 Cardinal Sins of ERP Implementation

The 12 Cardinal Sins of ERP Implementation

Introduction

Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) is an outgrowth of Material Requirements Planning (MRP) initiated in the 1970’s as a new computer-based approach to planning and scheduling of material requirements and inventory, featuring the time-phased order point. MRP evolved to MRP II (Material Resources Planning) the “closed loop” process, to Business Requirements Planning (BRP) and eventually to ERP. As MRPII came into vogue in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, software companies began to develop software packages around MRPII concepts.

At the same time, research of integrated data bases was in progress at a university, and out of that research emerged data base management systems (DBMS). One of the earliest successful commercially-produced data base management systems was IDMS (for IBM-based systems) and DBMS (for DEC-based systems) produced by Cullinane, who’s company name was later changed to Cullinet. IMS, a structured data base management system for high transactions, was another data base management system produced by IBM.

The idea of the integrated data base as the engine for fully integrated software was probably one of the greatest outgrowths of Ollie Wight’s and Dave Goddard’s MRP. Eventually, the acronym ERP was conceived to represent what had already been developed by software companies.

The early software packages were developed by way of a transactional approach, and were highly unfriendly to a user. With the advent of the personal computers, the development of Microsoft’s Windows NT, and the mid-range IBM AS/400 computer, client-server systems began to emerge. Windows, used as the base operating system, allowed software packages to become more and more user-friendly.

Today, ERP systems have proliferated extensively, and have reached a stage where development has become industry specific. Thus it is plausible to search for an ERP package developed for one’s specific industry idiosyncracies.

The Issues

The biggest single issue in ERP is the failure of a successful implementation. It is mind-boggling to continually encounter companies who make major ERP gaffes in this day and age, especially since most of the trials and tribulations of MRPII implementation were suffered and learned from in the early 1980’s with alpha, beta and gamma releases.

So what constitutes failure?  Several things come to mind:

(1) Not making the promised return on investment,
(2) Inordinately extending the implementation schedule and start-up date,
(3) Running over budget by unconscionable variances,
(4) Grinding the organization to a crawl pace, or the severest of all consequences,
(5) Stopping production and/or not delivering orders to your customers. 

Industry statistics show that >60% of ERP implementation starts historically fail.  Does this mean that you are doomed from the start?  Of course not, if you learn from the mistakes of others.  So the pertinent question is what are the main causes of ERP failure and what can be done to prevent this from happening to you?

The 12 Cardinal Sins of ERP Implementation

There are twelve major reasons for why companies get bogged down or fail in implementing ERP.

(1) Lack of Top Management Commitment
The propensity of top management to delegate the oversight of an ERP implementation to lower management levels often results in (1) being “out of touch” with critical events, or (2) the lack of understanding of the size, scope, and technical aspects of the project, and subsequently, the lack of proper commitment of time and resources required for a successful implementation.  The result is a failure waiting to happen.

(2) Inadequate Requirements Definition
Surveys have shown that inadequate definition of functional requirements accounts for nearly 60% of ERP implementation failures. This is simply a matter of not comprehensively and systematically developing a quality set of functional requirements definitions. This leads to the second greatest cause of ERP implementation failures: poor package selection.

(3) Poor ERP Package Selection
Poor package selection occurs when a company has inadequately developed functional requirements definitions. It also occurs when staff members assigned to ERP projects do not take the time to run the screens of the new system, as they would during their daily work tasks, to find out if the software package features are adequate for their needs.

Another reason we have found is executives, familiar with an ERP system from a last job they held, implement the same system in their new company without defining functional requirements. We have also encountered companies who made major gaffes by selecting a package at the top levels of a company without intimately knowing its characteristics. What often results from this is the ERP package doesn’t fit the organizational needs, or that the package selected takes longer to process daily work tasks.

We have also seen executives select a distribution package for a manufacturing environment, or a manufacturing package for a distribution environment, for obscure reason, such as liking one salesman over another.

(4) Inadequate Resources
The third greatest reason for ERP implementation failures is inadequate resources. Many companies will attempt to “save dollars” by doing everything on an overtime basis, whether or not there are adequate skills within the company, extending individual work loads to 150%. This approach can be a “kiss of death” for the program. Time and time again we run across this mistake in ERP implementations. The financial and emotional drain of what seems sometimes to be perpetual extensions, reschedules and delays of implementations takes its toll. People burn out after having put in extensive hours over a long period of time.

(5) Resistance to Change/Lack of Buy-in
The lack of a change management approach as part of the program can prevent a program from succeeding. Resistance to change is quite often caused by (1) A failure to build a case for change, (2) Lack of involvement by those responsible for working with changed processes (3) Inadequate communication (4) Lack of visible top management support and commitment, and (5) Arrogance.  A lack of buy-in often results from not getting end-users involved in the project from the very start, thereby negating their authorship and ownership of the new system and processes.

(6) Miscalculation of Time and Effort
Another cause of ERP implementation failure is the miscalculation of effort and time it will take to accomplish the project.  Companies who treat an ERP selection, evaluation and implementation comparable to buying a washing machine are doomed to failure.

(7) Misfit of Application Software with Business Processes
One of the main causes of ERP implementation failure is the misfit of application software with the company business processes. This failure — to examine underlying business process flaws, and integrate the applications with the business processes, causes loss of productivity and time, and ultimate benefits.

(8) Unrealistic Expectation of Benefits and ROI
Another significant cause for ERP implementation failure is the unrealistic expectation of benefits and return on investment.  Software providers are notorious for overstating the benefits in terms of ROI, when the  total costs of the project have been understated.  Often left out of the total costs are costs of planning, consulting fees, training, testing, data conversions, documentation, replacement staffing, and the learning curve performance drop.  When this happens, a company doesn’t stand a chance of achieving the ROI it anticipated.

(9) Inadequate Training and Education
Another of the biggest causes of ERP implementation failure is inadequate education and training, which are almost always underestimated. ERP-related training is crucial as most employees must learn new software interfaces and business processes which affect the operation of the entire enterprise. The corporate culture is impacted by changes in the company’s business processes, and shortchanging this part of the ERP implementation leads to much pain and suffering downstream.

(10) Poor Project Design and Management
A major mistake is to short-cut critical events in the project plan, such as time for documentation, redefining and integrating processes, or testing before “going live.”

Another common mistake is made when a company leaves out the self-examination of business processes and uses ERP to cover-up weaknesses. It is easier to buy software than to perform the more difficult task of identifying weaknesses and opportunities for improvement. 

(11) Poor Communications

One of the causes of ERP implementation failure is poor project communications, beginning with a failure to announce the reason for the up and coming effort, and continuing to advise the organization of the progress and importance of the ERP implementation to the company.  Poor communications prevent different parts of the organization from assessing how they will be impacted by changes in processes, policies, and procedures.  Communications are a vital part of managing change in a corporate environment.

12) Ill-advised Cost Cutting
Another of the key causes of ERP implementation failure is ill-advised cost cutting.  In an effort to avoid temporary conversion costs, some companies take a very risky route and go live at multi-plant sites simultaneously, subjecting all plants or some plants to a total shutdown should there be a false start-up.  This is suicidal.  Others attempt to unrealistically compress the schedule in order to save on expenses, only to eventually overrun both schedule and budget.  We feel that ROI should take a “back seat” when upgrading an important part of a company’s infrastructure: the information system.  Instead the implementation should be treated as an upgrade to the company infrastructure that is necessary to maintain or gain a strategic and competitive advantage.
Pragmatic Applications

The first corollary of ERP or information systems implementation is:
Information systems are part of a company infrastructure, and therefore are strategic to the company’s survival and success.
If a company does not consider IS as one of its critical success factors, chances are, the competition does.

The second corollary of ERP or information systems implementation is:
ERP and information systems are there to support business functions and increase productivity, not the reverse.
The driver for an ERP implementation should be to increase a company’s competitiveness, not the adoption of a new religion that bends or distorts how a company conducts its business.

The third corollary of ERP or information systems implementation is:
Learn from the successes and failures of others and don’t attempt to reinvent the wheel of ERP implementation practice.
There are time-proven approaches that can enhance the success of the ERP implementation. Here are a few:

High Employee Involvement

Get as many employees to participate heavily as practicable in accomplishing the functional requirements definition. The workers know their work and what they need to compress time. If they do not, use an outsider who does. Use a knowledgeable team to review and select packages. Get as many employees as practicable involved in the implementation phase. This will foster ownership and buy-in.

A Comprehensive and Systematic Approach

Use a comprehensive and systematic master plan that addresses all parts of an ERP systems implementation: development of IT strategy, requirements definition, review/selection of software, hardware, communications, unit testing, systems testing, conversion, resources, education/training, resistance to change, etc.

Adequate Resources

Provide adequate technical and administrative resources to allow employees breathing room. Perform cost/benefit analyses so that you know how much the entire implementation is going to cost and identify the results that will be achieved.

Extensive Education & Training at all Levels

Provide adequate training for most employees, including upper and middle management.