03 December 2009

The New ERP – Part 18

Post-sales requirements gathering

As we continue our review of traditional ERP – Everything Replacement Project methods and processes, while comparing them to the New ERP – Extended Readiness for Profit, we have been discussing the various aspects of "requirements gathering." So far we have covered both in-house and pre-sales requirements gathering. However, even if one or, indeed, both of the preceding forms of "requirements gathering" have been performed, it is not at all unusual for yet another aspect of "requirements gathering" to be done following the close of the software sale. We refer to this, naturally, as post-sales requirements gathering.

Many technology vendors and value-added resellers (VARs) maintain a process that looks something like this:

What's wrong with this picture?

The problem is that, most likely, it was the salespeople that did the pre-sales high-level requirements gathering. Then, they sold your company the technology!

Now, after you and your organization have already made what is probably a non-refundable purchase commitment of their technology, the vendor is sending in the people that really know whether the technology is "a good fit" for your specific organization and its application of it. Only now are they discovering your real and practical requirements.

Of course, the vendor's technical team's analysis will still not be based on a holistic view of your organization – they will not be looking at your entire organization as a "system." They will be looking at individual organizational silos and functional areas, frequently assigning different personnel to oversee "requirements gathering" in the different silos. Supposedly, this is to make things "better," because the different persons will each be "specialists" in their respective assignments. But, if they are like far too many vendors and resellers, no one has the training or experience to really see how your organization functions as an integrated "system" or "chain" of dependent events and actions. Thus, their "requirements gathering" will also fail to seek out and discover how to optimize the "system" in order to help your organization achieve more of its goal to make more money tomorrow and in the future.

In the best-case scenario, this post-sales "requirements gathering" process will stumble upon one or more of the things that must change to increase Throughput (T), reduce Inventory or demand for new Investment (I), or hold the line on Operating Expenses (OE) while permitting your organization to sustain substantial growth. Absent a holistic – a "system" view and theory – this new "requirements gathering" team will still be operating entirely under the assumption that if, in the Everything Replacement Project, they improve every functional area or even some functional areas as a result, the whole organization will benefit and be more successful at achieving its goal. As we have seen, since an organization is a "chain," only strengthening the weakest link will improve the organization as a whole. Time, money and energy spent elsewhere are substantially wasted.

That was the good news. Here's the bad news:

In the worst-case scenario, this new "requirements gathering" team will complete their more detailed "requirements gathering" and determine that, yes, they can make the technology that you have already purchased "fit" your firm's "requirements," but it is going to take a whole lot more time and money than you and your management team had anticipated. But, what can you do? You've already made an irrevocable commitment to purchase the vendor's technology.

If your team has been working along with us up to this point, you may have recognized that the work you have done in creating your own Current Reality Tree (CRT) and the analysis of the "roots" of your CRT was your "requirements gathering." If you have done your work correctly and effectively, you already know the critical requirements you must address with technology (where it applies). In the example company we have been using (see prior posts), the management team has already identified (among others) the following critical requirements that will require technological support in order to improve the performance of the whole "system":

  1. Integrated bar code printing
  2. Integrated ASN (advanced shipping notice) generation and processing
  3. Reduction or elimination of paper-based picking and shipping processes
Our example firm's management team is already well prepared to seek from vendors and resellers specific and targeted "requirements" focused on the specific and targeted functions that must be improved (changed) to increase Throughput (T), reduce Inventories or the demand for new Investment (I), or slash or hold the line on Operating Expenses while sustaining substantial growth. They do not feel the need to do an Everything Replacement Project – traditional ERP, because they are already well aware of the few and limited things that need to change to bring effective improvement in moving toward their goal of making more money.

[To be continued]

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