The art of requirements gathering for an ERP software selection project is not a simple task. In fact, it can be the most difficult part of the entire endeavor. Because of its daunting nature, most companies rush through the process and, as a result, add a significant amount of time to the overall project timeline. Inadequate writing and validation of requirements can result in failed ERP implementations in terms of time spent, cost and overall vendor selection. To better estimate the time and cost needed to implement a product and ensure the product can align with key business processes and market differentiators, it is critical to really understand what the system requirements will be before evaluating a particular software package or vendor.
Here are some tips you can use to help gather and write strong requirements for your ERP software selection project:
- Develop Workshop Guides: Prepared participants result in productive meetings. It is always important to prepare your workshop participants prior to conducting a workshop session. Create and deliver workshop guides that tell the attendees what they should expect during the requirements workshop and provide questions for them to mull over before the meeting. This will help get them thinking about the anticipated flow of the conversation and ultimately result in a better outcome.
- Allocate Adequate Time for Requirements Gathering: Requirements workshops typically take between two to three hours per functional area. I recommend over-estimating the time necessary in order to eliminate the need for a follow-up session. Follow-up sessions tend to break the flow of thinking and collaboration. This can result in less defined or weaker requirements.
- Involve the Right People: Make sure to include the subject matter experts for each functional area in the workshop sessions. These individuals understand the processes better than most people within a company. They typically live them daily and can relate and articulate the pain points and inefficiencies associated with the process.
- Hold Deep Dive Sessions With ERP Consultants to Decide Key Business Decisions: When conducting workshop sessions, it is the third-party ERP consultant’s job to challenge the company’s current way of doing business. If there are apparent inefficiencies, the consultant should propose possible solutions for the organization to consider when designing their new software system. These solutions should focus on where the company would like to see itself 15 years from the present day and also address the company’s strategic goals and key differentiators.
Written by January Paulk, Senior ERP Consultant at Panorama Consulting Solutions.