5 steps to successful ERP requirements gathering
Determining your ERP requirements is by far the most important step in the ERP selection process. With that in mind, a poorly executed ERP requirements gathering program can set a negative tone for the rest of the project.
1. Start with your business' strategic objectives
Every functional group should share strategic objectives so you are beginning with a common set of targets, an essential step for any ERP requirements gathering program. How can ERP help achieve those objectives? You want to increase market share by 2%? Will CRM features in the new system help? You want to improve utilization of inventory, your largest asset? Faster factory throughput using ERP will point you in the right direction. Better supply chain visibility and improved analytical capability might take you another step closer.
2. Consider external requirements and workarounds
If your customer has asked for something your current ERP system cannot provide, that should certainly be considered during ERP requirements gathering. What about workarounds? Where are your business’ pain points? Is closing your monthly books taking too long? Are there a multitude of offline spreadsheets involved in the process? Identifying these points of resistance for your employees and customers will give you a great starting point for achieving a strong ROI for your new ERP.
3. Reach a complete team agreement on requirements
ERP is an enterprise-wide set of tools. If no one from quality or marketing is on your selection team, their needs might be forgotten or undervalued. At the same time, don’t let any one function dominate the selection of requirements. Manufacturing and accounting are traditionally considered the most important (ERP began life around these core functions after all), but they are only two groups in your organization.
4. Prioritize your list of requirements as a team
Some will be non-negotiable or must have requirements. The next rank will be those you would really like to have or even feel you should have but you could live without if necessary. Any ERP that does not fill all of your must-have requirements is automatically dismissed at the ERP requirements gathering stage.. All or most of the second level requirements should be satisfied too. The last level of requirements is those you would like to have. Any of those you can capture are icing on the cake.
5. Be objective
On one hand, this means avoiding personal bias in setting your ERP requirements. It also means you have expressed your requirements in objective terms including specific time frames and measurable expectations. Those measurables will allow you to predict a return on your investment.
Pretty simple, right? Of course it isn’t. Take your time. Utilize your team. Listen to everyone from the bottom to the top of the organization. If they will use the ERP or be affected by the choice of the enterprise tool, their voice and their requirements deserve to be considered during ERP requirements gathering. If you get the requirements right, the remaining steps in the process will fall into place as you continue the journey.
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