Gathering realistic requirements for ERP

erp requirements

How to gather requirements for ERP

The ultimate success in ERP software requirements gathering is not only to capture everything that the current business process does today but also to compile a list of realistic “should-be” changes. The term “realistic” is important, because if the should-be list is largely compromised of the wishful thinking of a few dreamers, then no ERP vendor will touch it. But if you can capture changes that are reasonable, and would improve the process, then you can simultaneously ask, “And how much would that be worth to you, if we could do that?” From that point, financial benefits begin accruing, and you are starting to compile the data required for a justified and proven ERP ROI.

Quantifying the financial benefits from ERP software has always been a dicey position. There is no accounting entry for “improved efficiency”, “better decisions”, or “greater understanding”. So if your ERP requirements gatherers are good, they will coax along the thought process using those intangible phrases to try to get to things that are, in fact, tangible. “Where will improved efficiency show up? How can you recognize improved efficiency?” (Side note: No rumor will insert more negative energy into ERP software requirements gathering than the perception that ERP is going to ‘put a bunch of people out of work’.)

When it appears ERP would, in fact, be able to eliminate non-value-added work, the discussion should be in terms of re-assigning people, not eliminating people. Every organization has a turnover that requires backfilling jobs. “What is the cost of bad decisions today?” may lead to some quantifiable discussion about inventory obsolescence costs, lost sales, or poor choices in product development.

Expect Tension

Typically, the tangible benefits side of ERP software requirements gathering will result from reduced working capital and associated carrying cost, reduced manpower, reduced obsolescence cost, greater material, and product yield, and service improvements leading to revenue increases. Expect some tension at this point, as ERP requirements gatherers push for every possible benefit dollar, and the business unit pushes back on commitments they may be called upon to verify, and that they may live to regret.

Relative to its eventual importance, requirements gathering is the most under-appreciated yet tactically critical step in the ERP selection process. The ERP requirements list will serve as the basis for all ERP vendor discussions., for the eventual ERP software contract language, and for the basis of your vendor relationship going forward. Get it right, and you have a common language for holding vendors accountable, for realistic ERP product comparisons, and for guiding configuration decisions. Get it wrong, and you will spend inordinate amounts of time trying to unravel what was really meant by ambiguous requirements.

After you have been through the ERP software requirements gathering phase, you will pretty much know whether you have a compelling business case or not. If you do, it’s time to sell the case to your leadership and get project approval so you can begin talking with ERP vendors in good faith.

If your business is considering an upgrade from outdated legacy systems, it’s time to start building a list of requirements for an ERP system. We can assist in identifying key problem areas within your organization and help you make the right decision on which business solution will be best for you. Contact allonline365 on or  +27 (21) 205 3650.

Resource Credit | ERPFocus

What to focus on when you’re receiving an ERP demo

erp demo

ERP demo scripts: guide and examples

Today’s enterprise software systems represent a host of challenges to commercial operators. This assertion is particularly true when it relates to ERP platforms, since as resources platforms begin to target and subsume within a company.

Consequently, to ensure that users start on the right foot, it is best to apply various ‘knowledge-maps’ that establish clearly stated operating requirements, thereby leading to solid decisions when they’re needed most – like the moment when an enormous check is about the be written. One of the most fundamental maps involves the design and application of software demo scripts when selecting ERP systems.

It should be understood that this kind of guidance should be driven by an inside out perspective, rather than the other way round. Many enterprises fail to adhere to this decision bias when buying new systems; and instead, end up settling for product demo script samples that are provided by salespeople.

As a core principle, this is a bad idea, and should never be applied. The enterprise itself is the entity that is going to have to accept a system once in it’s in operation, and that same entity is going to have to overcome, and/or pay for, any subsequent problems if the whole thing goes wrong, so  beware, since this requirement must be adhered to at all times.

Here are some tips to help you move toward your own tailored demo script for your business.

What do you include in a demo script?

As a matter of efficiency, scripted demonstration templates should be as granular as possible. Consequently, any module or task within a targeted ERP platform should be included. For example, here’s a very short sample of the information typically included in a comprehensive ERP demo script:

  • Global overview
  • Global functions

Individual module investigations should be added accordingly including:

  • General Ledger
  • Accounts payable
  • Accounts receivable
  • Cash management
  • Inventory

Within each major script heading, individually defined subordinate and individually defined tasks are typically included such as:

  • Specific feature sets
  • Related functions
  • Processed integrations
  • Individual security necessities
  • Utility operations
  • Report needs

Bear in mind, the aforementioned list represents only a small sampling of what a complete demo presentation script entails.

What to exclude in a demo script

For all the detail necessary to craft a proper vendor demo scorecard template, there are other elements that shouldn’t be applied at all. Here are a couple of ways to avoid these areas of weakness:

  • Direct product comparisons – every product is different in the same way that each enterprise is different. Focus on what you need, rather than what one or more vendors want to sell you.
  • Avoid the easy stuff – it’s pretty simple to build a software demo script that only applies to system features that involve current operations; but what about particular elements that apply to growth? The latter question is usually more useful, since considering future-proofing during a demo script round is a solid hedge against obsolescence later. if you always think forward than backward, you’ll be a lot happier later.
  • Don’t look for commonality between systems, look for diversity – when you’re defining ERP demo script examples ensure that you’re looking for sure ways to delineate differences between one system and another, rather than trying to re-validate the same wheel time after time. Literary sources suggest that Einstein defined insanity as ‘doing the same thing time after time while expecting a different result’.

At allonline365 our focus is determining your current and future needs, and that is what we focus on in our demos. What are your biggest challenges? What can we show you that will help stabilize issues and promote efficiency? We look past all the ‘fluff” and show you what really matters to you. Contact us on or  +27 (21) 205 3650. 

Resource Credit | ERPFocus

Essential ERP features to include in your business requirements

ERP features

No matter how technically minded or business-aware you are, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the vast array of ERP features. It’s just as easy to buy into enticing modules that you don’t need. You could buy the most expensive and exciting ERP on the market but that won’t guarantee success. After all, it doesn’t matter how deep your submarine can dive if you’re planning a trip to the moon.

Before you even begin to compare ERP features and functions, you need to do your homework to identify what will (and won’t) deliver an ROI. Requirements gathering is key, during which you should ask yourself:

  • what are your business goals?
  • What problems does your new ERP need to solve?
  • Which of your existing systems should it replace or integrate with?

Finding the best system for your business means knowing what features to look out for and which will solve your unique set of challenges. Since no two businesses are the same, we’ll focus on the features that apply to the many. Here are some essential ERP features and benefits for enterprises of all sizes and in all verticals.

1.  Customer Relationship Management

Any business seriously considering an ERP will already have a CRM system in place. Whether that existing CRM is doing what you need it to or not is another question. When building your ERP requirements checklist, take a good look at how you’re currently handling leads, opportunities, customer service, and client communication. Ask yourself, the business, and even the customers whether you’re:

  • Supporting your customers as well as they expect
  • Enabling your sales and marketing teams with intuitive, automated tools
  • Delighting your existing customers with effective, welcome and timely communication
  • Acting on opportunities to upsell and cross-sell
  • Converting new prospects efficiently

Did your research turn up any areas of weakness? This is your chance to resolve them. Look for ERP modules that can make an impact on your customer service and sales efforts as a priority.

2.  Finance and accounting

One of the top ERP functional requirements for all businesses is improved financial processes. By having one module to handle tax requirements, payments, receivables, and banking, finance teams can enjoy:

  • Increased information gathering
  • Faster report generation
  • Improved reporting quality
  • Greater automation
  • Reduction in human error

A robust finance ERP module reduces labor costs and enables better decision making. Real-time financial data forecasting and agility so that your business stays one step ahead.

3.  Ease of integration

During your requirements gathering, you’ll have identified which existing software systems you want to keep. In your ERP requirements checklist, make sure you list the tools you want your new ERP to integrate with.

By integrating your systems, users will get the same functionality without having to dip in and out of different portals. You’ll also have the benefit of all data and communications being driven by one unified system. After all, that’s the crux of a successful ERP solution.

4.  Scalability

ERP systems are designed to scale but it’s the cost of that scalability that you need to consider. Are you anticipating rapid growth in the next five years? Look at how well each solution can cope with your projected user increase. Then look at how that is going to affect the cost. Will you need to pay additional license fees if your users increase X amount? Will you need additional software, or should you look at cloud-hosted solutions?

Every business is different but everyone wants growth. Make sure you plan well ahead so that your ERP can handle that growth without it becoming cost-prohibitive.

Resource Credit | ERPFocus