Managing the Presale Process: Ensure Your ERP Requirements Are Clearly Defined

Once a company selects a solution partner, you need to be sure that the sales team understands and properly responds to your ERP requirements.

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    In our last post, we discussed the importance of identifying a VAR (value added re-seller) that best meets your company’s needs and why selecting Velosio as your implementation partner can help ensure your project’s success. If you would like to learn more about successful VAR selection best practices, look at: Make Velosio Your ERP Migration and Implementation Partner?

    In this post, we discuss ERP pre-sale requirements gathering and its importance in ERP implementation. It could be argued that successful pre-sale requirements gathering is the most crucial factor in an ERP implementation.

    Once a company selects a solution partner, the actual pre-sale process begins. Before you “sign on the bottom line” you need to be sure that the sales team understands and properly responds to your ERP requirements.

    Pre-sale Requirements Gathering

    Let the Salesperson Know What You Need

    A major part of the pre-sales process is ensuring that the salesperson understands your ERP requirements.

    Companies can communicate their requirements to the salesperson in a variety of ways. At one end of the spectrum, a small project’s requirements can be as simple as holding a few meetings, sitting through a general product demo, and taking some notes. At the other end of the spectrum, for a complicated and larger project a company may engage a consulting firm to do a complete system needs analysis, a detailed RFP and develop a detailed product demo plan.

    I have seen companies with basic functionality needs go through the sales process with only a few meetings and a brief demo, and they make out fine. I have also seen companies spend a lot of money on needs analyses, RFPs, and detailed demos. Sometimes these projects go well, sometimes not.

    What I am trying to say is that there is no right answer that applies in all situations. Try to find an approach that makes sense for your company and one with which you are comfortable, and capable of executing. The Velosio sales team has experience of many implementations, both small and large, and can work with your company to get you to where you need to be.

    Requirements Documentation

    Rank your requirements and focus on key functionality. Accounting, Account Payable, Accounts Receivable and Cash ERP functionality is a structured and very controlled process. Unless your company has some unique accounting requirements such as complicated corporate and GL account structures, inter-company activity or multiple currencies, I wouldn’t spend a lot of time in these areas.

    Focus on “performance critical” areas such as manufacturing, sales order processing or project accounting. This is what distinguishes ERPs, and the associated functionalities are critical to the company’s profitability.

    At a minimum, be sure to document your company’s critical processes and functionality requirements and provide them to the sales team. There are plenty of requirements tools available. An internet “ERP requirements” search will yield several useful resources.

    An example of a requirements document is illustrated below:

    example of a requirements document

    Remember, requirements include not only system functionality, but reporting as well. In some companies robust, easy to use reporting can be more important than system functionality itself.

    Discuss your current reporting needs with the sales team and resolve any potential issues. Don’t wait until you’re in the midst of the implementation to get this task completed. If you need the partner’s implementation or technical teams to assist in report building, be sure to get an estimate included in the SOW. Velosio’s ERP implementation teams include report development experts who are familiar with current marketplace reporting tools. In fact, Solver (a successful CPM application) named Velosio as the 2021 new technology partner of the year. A prestigious award not easily accomplished.

    Finally, make sure that the sales team understands that critical requirements must be addressed by the sales team in the product demo.

    Have the Salesperson Tell You How the ERP Meets Your Requirements

    When you provide the salesperson with your requirements documentation, be sure they understand you are expecting a written response of how the ERP meets those requirements. Build your requirements documentation with that goal in mind.

    In terms of response quality, a simple statement such as Out of the Box (OOB) is sufficient for basic functionality requirements. OOB functionality is easily demonstrated by the sales team during the product demo.

    Required or critical functionality requirements need to be documented by the sales team in more detail. Additionally, for GAP workarounds, ISVs, or customizations, be sure that the salesperson provides an overview of how the requirements will be met in the ERP in the response section, or in a separate document.

    If a simple GAP workaround is required, have the workaround demonstrated, as it should be based on OOB functionality with only minor modification. Sometimes, all that’s needed with a work-around, is to make a change to the actual business process itself.

    When considering this option, have the process change demonstrated and be sure you don’t negatively affect productivity or control.

    For example, a company can have a transaction or process currently completed via a single step. However, the proposed workaround now involves two steps to achieve the same result. While the change may be a non-issue for an infrequent transaction or process, it may not be suitable in a high-volume environment.

    If an ISV application is needed to resolve a requirements issue, schedule a demo. Ideally, have someone from the ISV application’s team perform the demo or at least sit in to answer any questions and resolve open issues.

    In the case of a customization, the salesperson should provide a general description of the customization required. The customization description needs to be explained clearly enough to support the decision to move forward. It should also include a “ballpark” cost estimate.

    Velosio’s development team can work with you to outline your business processes, address any gaps in the out-of-the-box solution, and provide a plan for you to fill those gaps and achieve your unique requirements. When customizations are needed or requests surface that go beyond the included abilities of the solution, Velosio can deliver.

    How to Hold the VAR Accountable

    Quality requirements documentation serves several important purposes:

    • Adequate documentation gives the salesperson an idea of your needs and provides a tool they can use to document their responses.
    • Completed requirements documents are shared with the partner’s implementation team during the Sales to Consulting knowledge transfer and substantially reduces the consulting learning curve.
    • Requirements documentation assists in accurate project budget and project scope development.
    • The company can use requirement responses to help ensure that the functionality promised is delivered.

    Prior to closing the ERP purchase, communicate to the salesperson that requirements document “required,” and “critical” responses will serve as the basis of ERP user acceptance testing (UAT), and that a successful UAT will be appended to the statement of work as a milestone.

    During UAT, refer to the documentation as needed. If the salesperson response is at odds with the test results, discuss the issue with them and reach a resolution. If needed, short pay service or progress payment invoices until the issue is resolved. Remember, the customer wields enormous power over the solution partner. If unhappy, customers can elect not to pay or can contest each project billing, placing the VAR in a position of having to negotiate settlement for each payment due. This is the last thing any VAR wants to be involved in.

    One final tip. Pay attention during the pre-sale process and document salesperson responses to your questions. Be sure that you are clear on what is being promised. This is a great reason to use a requirements document.

    Remember, requirements gathering does not need to be a major undertaking but be sure to build a requirements document addressing key issues and concerns, and again, don’t forget reporting.

    Why Velosio?

    With many years of implementation experience, Velosio can get your software up and running—effectively and efficiently—as quickly as possible. Our teams of application consultants and project managers, who are among the best in their field, are ready to help your business keep its commitments while investing in the latest technology advances. We guide your technology roadmap on a schedule that meets the demands of today’s fast-moving marketplace.

    Velosio brings 30+ years of experience helping companies modernize applications, migrate to new applications, simplify operations, and leverage their data to make better decisions. Over three thousand clients trust our consulting, migration, and support teams to reduce risk, empower innovation and create a foundation for reshaping the employee and client experience.

    Velosio is a team of 450 business professionals, application consultants and industry experts aligned with our clients’ best interests and dedicated to ensuring exceptional outcomes. Many of our team members are experienced accountants, some are CPA’s and/or PMP’s Our business professionals have come to us from other companies and have deep expert knowledge of their respective industries.

    Our team has worked with clients of all sizes over thousands of projects, allowing us to proactively spot potential issues, offer sage advice when needed, suggest best practices and drill down on issues important to your company.

    With a considerable number of successful implementations under our belt, you can be confident that we have the tools and experience you are looking for.