Best approach for gathering ERP requirements

Updated: January 15, 2011

Multiple Methods for Requirements Gathering

Based upon my experience there are three main strategies for gathering ERP business requirements:

  1. Requirements-Driven Strategy
    A pure requirements-driven strategy focuses on defining all business requirements independent of organizational and technology constraints. This approach is the most widely used method today. This is also the slowest approach to gathering requirements and will require the most time from business users to articulate requirements. We can anticipate gathering non-value-added business requirements that must be filtered through the requirements section process. With additional gaps business stakeholders will have to spend more during Fit/Gap to make decisions.
  2. Solution-Driven Strategy
    On the other end of the spectrum, a pure solution-driven strategy focuses on the gap business requirements (requirements that cannot be met with delivered functionality). This approach is highly popular in for rapid ERP implementations. This approach requires the least amount of time from business users; however, business activities must conform to the packaged business software. This could have a significant impact on organizational acceptance and impact because ERP software designs are based upon a market-driven set of requirements and not the specific requirements of an individual customer.
  3. Configuration-Driven Strategy
    The configuration-driven strategy is based upon the premise "The new system needs to do what the existing system does today". It may be a situation where a customer simply needs a replacement system because the existing system is nearing the end of its license and may become decommissioned software. Starting with what the customer knows helps to expedite requirements gathering. Business user time is minimized because IT can provide insight into the existing business system capabilities and configuration. However, this approach will surface requirements based upon existing system limitations as well as legacy non-value-add business requirements.

Each requirements gathering approach has its strengths and challenges. This fact does not invalidate the approaches described. What is required is the right application of these methods to encourage - not force - customers to maximize their ERP investment.

Best Practice: Use Multiple Methods for Requirements Gathering

What if there was a way to take the best from all the approaches mentioned above and produce a strategy that took full advantage of ERP software? What if we could bring in different approaches in such way as to complement and progressively elaborate (iterate) business requirements? This is the aim of the blended approach - to leverage different techniques in the process where they can generate the most value. The project team gathers business requirements from different perspectives which enable the team to create a holistic requirements definition set. Finally, the approach will naturally filter out non-value add business requirements.

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