Computer technology is an integral part of business today across all organisations and industries. Underpinning daily operations and providing a strategic and competitive advantage for all facets of business, be it small, large, public or private.
Despite this, many businesses find it difficult to identify the solutions that best fit their requirements. This is evident in the market with a trail of failed projects that have not delivered business benefits or a positive outcome. The focus on “cost” method of procuring software solutions is a large contributor to these projects.
With so many choices available to business today the importance of identifying and defining the requirements of the organisation are crucial. This is the case not only for the successful transition to a new software solution but also the business benefits and return on investment that is desired.
Shifting the focus onto the benefits to the business and return on investment rather than mainly cost can only be achieved by taking the time to really understand the needs of the business. There are three steps that will assist in this process.
The steps, As-Is process mapping followed by analysis and process improvement and finally prioritising.
As-Is Process Mapping
The value of this step cannot be overstated. By mapping your current business processes and how they relate to each other you will have the crucial base from which to perform the next step of process improvement.
The best way to perform this step is to draw up a flow chart that identifies step by step how each process is done and how and where they relate to each other. There are many off the shelf tools to help with this, simply Google “flow charting software”.
Analysis and Process Improvement
Now that you have a clear picture of current business processes and the flow, this can be used to identify opportunities for increased efficiencies and process improvements.
Explore the process itself first, identifying how it can be improved. Then outline the benefits to these improvements.
Having identified real business benefits are possible from the improvements, the As-Is flow chart should be adjusted to reflect the changes. This is now the To-Be flow chart. This reflects the new processes as agreed.
These now make up the list of requirements. Once this is documented this list needs to move to the next step, Prioritising.
Now that the To-Be has been decided on and the requirements list complied, the need to prioritise is a commercial one. All requirements come at a cost and there is a point where the benefit of fulfilling a certain requirement is outweighed by the investment to do so. Remembering, that the goal is to procure the best solution that is commercially viable for the business, we need a mechanism that will allow us to do this on a specific task level. Assigning a level of priority as outlined below empowers the decision maker to evaluate a solution based on return on investment and business benefits.
Mandatory – Essential requirements to the business
Desirable – Important requirements to the business
Optional – Nice to have
The time invested in this process will ensure that the software solution that is procured will be a good fit for the requirements of the business and will help avoid some of the pitfalls of software acquisition. This will also help to avoid the software selection of a product that presents very well at demonstration but doesn’t deliver to expectations.
Optimising the return on investment and delivering the desired business benefits.