One of the most important documents in an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solution implementation project is Scoping; when the business processes are examined and clearly identified as to how they will be ‘mapped’ to the new ERP system.
In order to get this information accurate and useable the business needs to spend time and energy benchmarking the processes that are in place today, discuss and agree with all areas of the business process changes and/or improvements desired – bearing in mind improvements that the ERP system itself will deliver from improved functionality and efficiency.
Current Business Processes.
First let’s define a business process, according to Wikipedia:
“A business process or business method is a collection of related, structured activities or tasks that produce a specific service or product (serve a particular goal) for a particular customer or customers. It can often be visualized with a flowchart as a sequence of activities with interleaving decision points or with a Process Matrix as a sequence of activities with relevance rules based on data in the process.”
Typically the processes can be divided into management processes and operational processes and then there are the supporting functions to both of these areas.
For each department that you have in your business, you need to understand the core business processes and the tasks that make up the complete activity. So, for example, in a sales environment, think about your order process from specification, through to quotation and then through to order taken. Is this a manual task at the moment? Is your staff still thumbing through catalogues to get part numbers and prices?
Detail as much as you can especially the frequency of events and any other IT systems, including spreadsheets and email, which the process relies on. Don’t forget any paper, or manual, aspects of the process.
The frequency of an activity or process will also enable priorities to be defined for the Scoping and ERP implementation: if you know an event happens hourly then this process will take priority over one that only occurs once a month.
Future Business Process Mapping
A well-designed business process should bring about efficiencies and will add value to the business. The introduction of an ERP system gives you the opportunity to assess your current processes and determine where there is room for improvement.
Unnecessary activities can be removed, and repeated processes can be streamlined. Taking our example, of course having a list of inventory that links to the sales office, warehouse and accounts department is the obvious answer.
You’ll need to conduct this activity for each of your business processes as this, defined during Scoping, forms the very core of your new ERP implementation.
The Gap Analysis
Defining what is required from the business from a process perspective and what will be in place with the new ERP implementation is the core of Scoping. Where there are aspects of a process or potentially whole processes themselves that will not form part of the new ERP implementation, it is important that these are analysed in detail to determine the effect on the overall system.
Documenting any gaps, and how they are to be handled, is a very important part of the Scoping process, as it clearly identifies the business processes that potentially need to be reconsidered by the business and, if a solution within the ERP implementation is not possible, highlights those processes that will be outside of the new system. .
The Scoping process; clearly identifying and documenting current and future business processes along with a detailed gap analysis, will enable the business to know where they are and where they want to get to.
The Scoping document will highlight
- The modules of the ERP system that the process touches from start to end.
- The Flow between the modules, which will marry your process.
- Any customisation that is required.
- The relevant information that needs to be displayed onscreen (with layout)
- Any batch process, or reporting that needs to happen at the end of the process.
Our experience confirms that most organisations find putting together the analysis of their current and desired processes over a short period of time an incredibly overwhelming task, which is why we recommend resources be allocated accordingly as early as possible in the ERP project.
The clearer and earlier you can define your process flows, identify areas of the business that changes will impact and document these accurately during Scoping, the more successful your ERP implementation will be.