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It’s unanimous! As the economy begins to rebound and companies have an overwhelming desire to top last quarter’s numbers, employees are busier than ever before. Now assume the organization needs to select and implement a new ERP software package. This requires the creation of an ERP project team and the documentation of the organization’s technical and functional ERP requirements. This fact-finding exercise produces additional work on already overworked employees.

Taking these people away from their jobs, even for a short time, poses a great risk to the organization. Therefore, the benefits realized from each requirement workshop must outweigh these risks. What are the best methods of conducting an ERP requirements workshop? What steps will minimize risk and maximize gain?

  1. Define a Goal for Every Session – Every session must work toward a common goal. This goal should be stated at the start of the session and agreed upon by the moderator and participants.
  2. Document Precisely and Accurately or Your project Will Fail – There are many ways to document an ERP requirements workshop and I will delve deeper into this topic in a subsequent blog post. The common theme must be to capture an accurate and thorough description of what’s being discussed.
  3. Field Questions But Stay on Track or Derail the Session – Workshops are a great way for people to get together and discuss the way they do business. Everyone can discuss their gripes and even get to know their co-workers. However, it’s vital to keep the discussion on track and focused on the goal. There’s a fine line between being thorough and a free-for-all discussion which produces no results but wastes time.
  4. Stay Focused on the ERP Project’s Goal – The key for a successful workshop is to develop ways to handle the diverse personalities present during a workshop, keeping off-topic conversations to a minimum and staying on time. Stating a goal at the beginning of the session allows the moderator to defer back to the goal should the conversation have little value-added benefits.
  5. Homework Isn’t Just for Students Anymore – Give the participants pre-reading assignments to be completed prior to the workshop. This allows them to hit the ground running and to form their ideas of what they want covered during the workshop.
  6. Follow-up or Fall Behind – After the requirements are compiled from the first workshop, it is imperative that a follow-up session be performed. A follow-up session need not be a formal, lengthy session, but it should go through every requirement. This is an excellent time to verify that the ERP requirements gathered are understood correctly.

Incorporating the best practices shown above will ensure that the workshop produces the requirements necessary for a successful ERP project, in addition to making the best use of the company’s best and brightest employees.

Blog entry written by Kevin Cahill, an ERP Consultant at Panorama Consulting Group.