4 Requirements Gathering Tips for Distribution ERP Projects

Are you ready to take the first step toward the world’s most successful ERP implementation in wholesale distribution? Good! Stand up; put one foot in front of the other; repeat. All kidding aside, your first step should be requirements gathering. Distribution ERP is a tool designed to mkae your company more competitive and profitable by helping you satisfy your customers and improve process efficiency.

The Team Must Represent the Whole Enterprise

Get your team in the same room and begin. Your team must include people from every discipline. Be sure to have sales and customer service, your warehouse and logistics people, engineering and finance and, of course, your IT person. The E stands for enterprise so you want all of the enterprise contributing to the requirements gathering process. This is not an information systems initiative; they are only one member of the ERP team.

Seek Requirements Feedback from External Sources

Distribution is a service business so why don’t we start with customer service. What works for us at the moment? What future requirements are known already? What have your customers told you they need? Are there new services you want to offer that you could not support without a distribution ERP system? How about your suppliers? Have they suggested improvements for you? There are no wrong answers at this point. You are looking for how to improve your business first and ERP should only be seen as a tool to enable those improvements. Stay away from the trap of reading ERP advertising and working toward that during the requirements gathering stage. Focus on how you can be a better distributor.

Compliance Should Be a Front of Mind

Pay attention to compliance needs. If you distribute food, pharmaceuticals or chemicals, you have many specific compliance requirements. No matter what your business, your customers have compliance requirements and so does your government, from the city sales tax to the national tax authorities.

Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize

Now, as a group, prioritize your requirement list. There are some that are mandatory. There is another level that all consider an important need but you could manage without for a time or could acquire outside of the distribution ERP. Then, there are those requirements that would be nice to have. Remember, requirements gathering is a group consensus but if a requirement is mandatory to any of you it is mandatory for all of you. An ERP that automatically delivers product while you sleep but cannot pay the bills won’t be good enough.

Congratulations! You have taken that first step and are now on your way to that successful distribution ERP implementation. Any systems you look at must be able to meet all your mandatory requirements. Then, you want it to meet as many of the others as possible.

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Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle. Contact Tom at customerteam@erpfocus.com.

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Tom Miller

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