Requirements Gathering Determining What You Need

The gathering and documentation of client requirements is a critical implementation task during the ERP implementation process, and our experts are here to help.

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    To get to this point in your ERP implementation, you’ve gone through a lengthy sales process, selected your solution provider and set your project’s overall goals and objectives.

    You’ve also commenced a formal kick-off meeting. In the meeting, the project plan was developed including organizing tasks, assigning resources, and setting the project ground rules.

    If you haven’t completed these tasks or want to learn more about them, see:

    Navigating the ERP Sales Process: Successful VAR Selection

    Business Leaders Guide to the New Digital AgeBusiness Leaders Guide to the New Digital Age

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

    Getting Started: Preparing for ERP Implementation

    Today’s ERPs (Enterprise Resource Planning) offer the user countless features and functionality. ERP advances provide increased processing efficiency, greater control of business transactions and improved reporting capabilities. The associated complexities require that the ERP implementation is completed in an organized and controlled manner.

    The gathering and documentation of client requirements is a critical implementation task. Accurate, client-approved requirements form the foundation of the Fit/Gap analysis and system designs which are the ERP implementation blueprints. Even if you provided requirements as a part of the pre-sale process, you should review them again with the implementation team.

    This is where an experienced implementation partner like Velosio stands out. We’re intimately familiar with all of the ERP applications we represent. Many of our project managers and implementation consultants are certified by Microsoft confirming their specific product acumen. All have hands-on implementation experience and know how to effectively implement an ERP.

    Additionally, in terms of gathering requirements, many of our team members are experienced accountants. Some hold CPA and/or advanced degrees. Our business professionals have come to us from other companies and have deep expert knowledge of their respective industries allowing us to identify the requirements important to your company and offer experienced advice and direction when needed.

    ERP implementations are controlled by using a specific methodology. Many software publishers provide some type of implementation methodology for use by their re-sellers. A sample implementation methodology appears below. The example consists of five phases. Requirements gathering is part of the “Requirements and Design” phase. Note how requirements gathering is tied into and supports the Fit/Gap analysis and the System Designs.

    Implementation Process Flow

    Best Practices

    Executive Ownership

    Visible executive ownership is the number one success driver across all ERP implementation phases. Employees look to company executives for both direction and a sense of the importance associated with company initiatives. If the Executive team doesn’t take the project seriously, chances are that the project team won’t either.

    To learn more about the value of executive ownership look at:

    Preparing for ERP Implementation Methodology | Velosio

    Use Quality Documentation

    Requirements gathering is the final “knowledge transfer” between the company and the implementation consultants. This knowledge transfer results in a large volume of information and data being transferred back and forth.

    Standardized project documents and worksheets should be used to control transferred knowledge. The documents and worksheets organize the process, are designed to identify detailed requirements and help make sure that the company and consultant teams do not miss anything and “are on the same page”.

    Velosio project managers and implementation consultants are very experienced in gathering requirements and documenting them in an organized and effective manner. The method of completing these tasks is reviewed in the kick-off meeting. Any changes to requirements documentation should be discussed and resolved at this time. Be sure that all project participants understand requirements and documentation standards.

    Document Current Processes, Workflow, and Reporting Needs

    With the exception of a “move to modern” cloud ERPs, or an ownership transfer, no one implements a new ERP because of their happiness with their current systems. ERPs are implemented to streamline transaction processing, increase functionality and control, and to improve reporting.

    You’re probably wondering why someone would recommend that a discussion and understanding of current processes and workflows is a good idea, when they may be replaced or modified by the new ERP.

    On the surface, that logic makes sense. It’s essential though that the consultants installing the ERP understand the current environment up front. Understanding current processes, workflows, and reporting provides a firm foundation for accurate requirements gathering Fit/Gap analysis and the system design that follows.

    Field Service Role Based GuideField Service Role Based Guide

    Reviewing the current environment also helps mitigate the chance of overlooking a key process or control. Reporting is a particularly vulnerable area.

    In my mind’s eye, every company should have a set of documented procedures, especially for critical processes. Velosio has a high level of experience in requirements gathering. However, as good as Velosio business analysts are in helping to drill down on ERP requirements, a set of process documents goes a long way toward understanding the company and ensuring a successful implementation.

    To learn more about process documentation see:

    Building and Enhancing Business Process Documentation

    How Quality Business Process Documentation Affects A Company

    The most dangerous word in requirements gathering is “assume”.  I’ve seen companies invest several hundred thousand dollars implementing an ERP solution and then just assume that certain functionality, controls, or reports are available out of the box. They found out too late that what they assumed the system provided out of the box is in fact not standard functionality at all. While an ERP offers amazing levels of functionality and reporting capabilities, assuming that all required functionality or reporting will automatically be included, and therefore does not have to be considered or evaluated is dangerous.

    A good practice when documenting the current environment and gathering requirements is to assume nothing and validate everything.

    Align Your Resources

    An ERP implementation utilizes resources from many different company roles. It’s important that each resource understands its role and that all resources are moving in the same direction. The goals and objectives set during the project’s planning phase assist in this process. To learn more about this topic, see:

    Getting Started: Preparing For ERP Implementation | Velosio

    Create project teams from each functional area. Assign goals and objectives to each team and designate a team leader. Support the team leader with authority commensurate with the responsibility assigned. A team leader cannot be effective without equal levels of responsibility and authority. If you’re going to hold team leaders accountable, then supply them with the tools to be effective.

    Team members may differ between the requirements-gathering process and other implementation phases. Match team member strengths to the team’s assigned tasks. Build your teams with members from various levels in the company. In many instances, staff-level employees have a better understanding of day-to-day processing and issues than senior personnel. Of course, managers and other executives are valuable team members, but I’ve regularly experienced situations where they may not be as up to speed on the current day-to-day situation as needed. This can have a negative impact on the alignment of requirements to true company needs and often results in having to re-do completed tasks.

    Stay Within Yourself

    Anyone who has played an organized sport is probably familiar with the term “stay within yourself”. Coaches use it all the time to remind players not to try to perform at a level beyond their capabilities. Trying too hard can result in errors, poor decisions, and a less-than-desirable outcome.

    The same concept applies when defining the ERP requirements. Be sure that you tailor the requirements to those that your company can reasonably support. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been involved in projects where the staff is small or inexperienced and obviously overwhelmed in their current environment. Despite this, company project leaders are defining requirements that couldn’t be achieved in the best of circumstances. The project leaders are not staying within themselves. Historic data loading and report development are particularly susceptible to this.

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    Time, cost considerations or inexperience drive this behavior. In most instances, this kind of thinking never succeeds. What usually happens is that so much time is spent on fulfilling unrealistic requirements that other tasks get overlooked, errors are made, and the system is never built out to its full potential.

    Use Velosio’s experience to help guide you in the right direction. We’ve been doing this for a long time and can be very effective in preventing your company from “biting off more than it can chew”.

    Be open-minded when discussing alternatives to project requirements. For example, with today’s advances in data handling and reporting tools, it may be easier to upload historical information into one of these tools than having to download the data, re-structure it, then upload it to the new ERP and reconcile it. While one- or two years’ worth of history is fine for uploading to the ERP, anything above that may not result in the best ROI on the effort required to get the task completed.

    Here are some examples of not staying within yourself:

    • “Just install the software and train the IT department. They’ll complete the implementation”.
    • “We need 10 years of detailed transaction history loaded for the GL, AP, AR, sales orders, and inventory”.
    • “We’ll review the reporting tools, and write all of our own reports”.
    • “Our IT guys will “tweak” the code themselves to achieve that requirement”.

    Stay within your skillset! You’ll be happier in the end.

    So Why Velosio?

    With many years of implementation experience, Velosio can get your software up and running—effectively and efficiently—as quickly as possible. Our 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 is a team of 450 business professionals, application consultants, and industry experts aligned with our client’s best interests and dedicated to ensuring exceptional outcomes. Our team has worked with clients of all sizes over thousands of projects, allowing us to accurately determine and document your ERP requirements, proactively spot potential issues, offer practical 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. Reach out to our experts today, and we can assist in your ERP requirements gathering.

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