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Business Requirements Document For ERP?

Mark Valderrama's Profile

Business Requirements Document

Hello All,

I have been trying to get a Business Requirements document example that I could use as part of the vendor identification process for an ERP system (Netsuite for example calls it a BRD document...I've been told it's a 50+ page document).  I wanted to see if anyone one out there who has done this for an ERP Implementation, have a sample, or would happen to know someone who is familiar with it.  I mostly need it to either 1) Outline our business requirements to start the ERP vendor evaluation and/or 2) Determine/Justify the need for a consultant to assist with the completion of the business requirements document.

Thanks,

Mark
 

Answers

Lynne Taylor
Title: Principal
Company: Cloud Accounting Services for Enterprise..
(Principal, Cloud Accounting Services for Enterprises (CASE)) |

We've been writing business requirements documents for replicating our legacy system processes and procedures for the last few months. The document(s) created include a) summaries of the major processes; b) process flow diagrams; and c) the detailed narrative that basically describes who, what, when, where, why and how of each process flow. Outlining the BRD's requires that kind of business analyst mindset that thinks of the system from both a user and an IT/programmer perspective, and hopefully keeps in mind the overall strategic goals of the company. It's a unique skill set, and good business analysts are usually deeply familiar with many ERP systems (like SAP, JDE/Oracle) or platforms like force.com that are capable of being customized to the business or industry needs. The best BA's don't try to steer you in any one direction either! They analyze the business first, then evaluate the solutions best suited to meet the business requirements. Good luck on this project Mark!

Mark Woolley
Title: Director
Company: Corporate System Solutions Inc
(Director, Corporate System Solutions Inc) |

Mark

two questions :

first - which industry do you operate in?

second - what criteria, or criterion, makes your business unique? Understanding this is key to selecting the best fit solution.

Accurate definition of the answers to these two questions will save you a lot of time, money and effort in selection, implementation and on-cost. They will both immediately crystallize what you need and eliminate those vendors who cannot provide it. The next stage is to drill down vendors who can provide your needs and to the requirement level of support you need. Not all vendors provide what they purport out of the box. Third party vendors, customization, workarounds, add-ons all represent additional costs and time that must be identified as part of selection. Not implementation.

Every business is unique in some way, so don't short circuit requirements by using a template applied to another business. Your solution - and how you use that solution - is unique to you. Cloning someone else's solution into your business is an expensive mistake to avoid.

Do not lose sight of the fact that ERP solutions are generic. A NetSuite Business Requirements Document (BRD) fits their understanding of your business. The only person who understands your business is you, not a vendor. Don't fall into that trap.

We have selected, evaluated and implemented enterprise software solutions for clients in North America and the United Kingdom for over 30 years. The tools we use include detailed requirements sets across a range of ERP solutions allowing you to quickly derive preferred and reserve vendor recommendations supporting a business case with detailed functional, technical and financial data. Typically it takes six months for the business to provide requirements and a vendor to provide functional equivalence to produce a recommendation acceptable to you. The tools we use include a proven selection methodology and pre-qualified functionality thereby reducing the timeframe and cost, resulting is a best fit solution for your business.

Regards
Mark

Mark Woolley
Corporate System Solutions

Mark Valderrama
Title: Finance
Company: Manufacturing/Ecommerce
(Finance, Manufacturing/Ecommerce) |

Hey Mark,

Thanks for your response. I would prefer to just keep the discussion public for the time being as I feel this could be a valuable insight for others needing this information. Here are the answers to your questions:

first - which industry do you operate in?

We are a hybrid e-commerence/manufacturing company printing and manufacturing of signs. The best examples of us I would say would be companies like Zazzle, Cafepress, and VistaPrint. We sell signs on-line and have two manufacturing pieces in two different states along with multiple websites.

second - what criteria, or criterion, makes your business unique? Understanding this is key to selecting the best fit solution.

Could you explain what you mean by this question. I'm sure how to answer it. Overall, we run a in-house production system that ques all our orders and functions as a quasi CRM system. We have no system count and inventory can only be determined by our inventory counts monthly. Most of the critical data you need for the COGS side is going to come from our SQL database. Due to this, we actually have a fairly large development team of software developers and the data can be very difficult to get because the SQL database is very customized. That is the biggest transition we will need to make. I would say our biggest problems to solve will be the production side, supply chain, and an establishment of a proper cost accounting system.

Topic Expert
Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Hi Mark V

After reading your initial post and follow up, here are some comments, hopefully not too far off base for you (note: I am a former finance leader that now helps clients choose and use business software):

1. Firstly, I think you are more at the start of Evaluation rather than the Implementation of software (two separate phases of a larger project). So, what key questions are you wanting to answer and why are you looking at software (i.e. what pains exist today)? These questions should be agreed to by your top management - exec buy in is critical.Without a credible business case, be careful about the risks.

2. Secondly, establish some budget boundaries. That will drive if/how you use consultants and what packages fall in your $ range. You may not want to do that in a public forum if # employees, revenues, budget for software are to be discussed.

3. Lynne's comments above make sense. Determine your requirements first. Her BRD may differ from what a software vendor calls a BRD- the vendor is looking for info on how to configure their system, so it has already been selected. You need to evaluate first, which means something different- you should not pay attention to any specific packages at this requirements gathering stage. If you/your peers have not much experience in defining software requirements and evaluating software, hire someone who can help you. We frequently advise our clients that "An Ounce of Selection is worth a Pound of Implementation" because of its importance to the project.

4. If you are changing software, your processes are likely to change; so you should take an objective look at: your business goals and strategy, your future business model, what processes are important and how should they be performed using a new system that does not exhibit the constraints of today's systems in place - reference my # 1 above re " what key questions are you wanting to answer?" Your reference to "our biggest problems to solve will be the production side, supply chain, and an establishment of a proper cost accounting system" is pretty substantial, so plan this carefully.

5. Assemble a small team of SMEs (subject matter experts) who can spend some time on this project-you need org wide input and perspective, even if just it's 3 people. The team leader should be a good leader and somewhat knowledgeable about business software, not just the most senior person:).Change management is the MAJOR issue to handle during the project - it's not a tech/IT thing, simply installing software and "hoping" it will be better.

6. Use scripts of key business scenarios to evaluate how a shortlist of potential vendors can support your business requirements. Scripts help describe the way you plan to operate in future, they allow you to see HOW a package functions and whether that suits your business model/strategy.

Mark Valderrama
Title: Finance
Company: Manufacturing/Ecommerce
(Finance, Manufacturing/Ecommerce) |

Hello Len,

Thanks for your response, here are some of the answers I can provide publicly:

1. Firstly, I think you are more at the start of Evaluation rather than the Implementation of software (two separate phases of a larger project). So, what key questions are you wanting to answer and why are you looking at software (i.e. what pains exist today)? These questions should be agreed to by your top management - exec buy in is critical.Without a credible business case, be careful about the risks.

We need to develop a credible business care in order to get executive buy-in. That's one of the places where I'm currently at a loss in trying to develop. The change demand did not originate from the executive team. The business is profitable and the Company is rapidly growing so it's the don't fix what isn't broken mentality. Our Finance group has been getting more support lately due to successful smaller implementations however.

2. Secondly, establish some budget boundaries. That will drive if/how you use consultants and what packages fall in your $ range. You may not want to do that in a public forum if # employees, revenues, budget for software are to be discussed.

That's another factor I'm trying to sort out. Most consultants will not give you an estimate without engaging in services and many of the vendors will not give you a list price without starting negotiations. We aren't really sure where to start other than a few people mentioning it may cost 1-2% of your revenues overall from start to finish. A possible mitigating factor would be the ability to get financing for this project (Which would come in terms of a loan NOT equity funding).

3. Lynne's comments above make sense. Determine your requirements first. Her BRD may differ from what a software vendor calls a BRD- the vendor is looking for info on how to configure their system, so it has already been selected. You need to evaluate first, which means something different- you should not pay attention to any specific packages at this requirements gathering stage. If you/your peers have not much experience in defining software requirements and evaluating software, hire someone who can help you. We frequently advise our clients that "An Ounce of Selection is worth a Pound of Implementation" because of its importance to the project.

I agree that we need consultant help to the information we need. We need two major pieces with a consultant which would be the business requirements and the establishment of a costing system (To which I'm not sure if you should hire that person before the project planning or during the requirements stage). I do not believe you can engage the same consulting firm to do both and this definitely increases the costs, but for a long-term benefit.

5. Assemble a small team of SMEs (subject matter experts) who can spend some time on this project-you need org wide input and perspective, even if just it's 3 people. The team leader should be a good leader and somewhat knowledgeable about business software, not just the most senior person:). Change management is the MAJOR issue to handle during the project - it's not a tech/IT thing, simply installing software and "hoping" it will be better.

There 3 people I can identify right now who could handle this project + a qualified consultant. How much time is dedicated to the project? Most have been telling me it's practically a full-time job. How are these team members daily responsibilities usually handled when they need to focus on the project?

6. Use scripts of key business scenarios to evaluate how a shortlist of potential vendors can support your business requirements. Scripts help describe the way you plan to operate in future, they allow you to see HOW a package functions and whether that suits your business model/strategy.

Can you give me examples of these scripts? I could probably write up a number with a few examples to work off of.

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