System Software Requirements rfp mistakes

How to Identify System Requirements

Avoid Overlooking Key System Features

Use these Instructions to Select System Software More Reliably!





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How to Find System Requirements

The Most Overlooked System Requirements Instructions

Any search on the Web about How to Find System Software Requirements finds many web sites and articles about how to determine system budgets, identify System stakeholders, and performing other system functions important in any effort to select system software.

The critical system issue that is missing in all those How to Select System Software articles is detailed instructions about HOW to specificaly identify system software requirements!

Many system experts provide how-to instructions that say "identify your system requirements" before making a system software selection, but they don't provide any detail intormation any about how to identify system requirements. What exactly does "identify your system requirements" really mean? No one takes the time to explain what system issues are required, or what is involved, to "identify your system requirements". How are they identified? How are they collected? There are many things that can effect how a "system requirement" can be identified, so what is the best way? Some of these are -

  • Should "system requirements" specify features or capabilities?
  • What is a "requirement"?  Is it a system software feature or a business process need?
  • Should a "system requirement" only specify what is currently needed, or should it be about potential future needs as well?
  • At what level of detail should a "system requirement" be at?  For example, the statement "The new system system must provide an "Contact Report" identifies a very basic, "standard" requirement. Something that almost any system vendor can say YES to. That is not much help in identifying the BEST system system though. Instructions on How to Choose system software should address this.
  • What about system workflow? How does it relate to your effort to select system software?
  • How should Business Process Reengineering (BPR) be treated?
  • How about the adequacy of exisitng data collection tools such as paper and web-based forms?

This article is about how to identify system software requirements based on well-defined methodes, and answers the above questions regarding system requirements and their impact on the system software selection process. Let's start off with an example of the bad impact just one ill-defined requirement can have on the outcome of a system software selection and/or implementation.

How Just One Poorly Defined system Requirement Impacts a Project

To show how important the act of correctly identifying system requirements can be, let's use our previous example requirements statement "The new system system must provide a "Contact Report"."

Since this appears to be a basic requirement many people in your company might consider that to be good enough for use in an RFP. Others may want to add "with the ability to specify a Starting and Ending Customer" because of the large number of customers, so the full requirement becomes:

"The new system system must provide a "Contact Report".
"The Contact Report must provide the ability to specify a Starting and Ending Customer."

The above looks good to all, it seems to go into enough detail, so it goes into the RFP. Especially since many people are thinking, "this is good enough, this is just a "standard" "Contact Report", something any good system system should be able to do".

All the vendors respond with YES to both of the above requirements, since they are very easy to do for almost any system system. A system system is chosen, partly because of the large amount of detail in its database, and implemention of the new system system is started.

System Problem #1 Comes Up

Very quickly there are problems with the Contact Report. It is VERY long, and uses tremendous amounts of paper, and takes a long time to finish, all because it includes a DETAIL transaction listing for every customer. It is now a new, unforeseen problem with the new system software, one that causes a delay in the system implementation while waiting for the problem to be fixed.

It takes several emergency meetings to determine the best way to solve the problems caused by a lengthy, unwieldy, and almost unusable "Contact Report". The solution is to add a new report setup parameter (control) enabling the user to specify if the DETAIL for each customer account should be printed or not. This is ideal since the "Contact Report" already includes a summary-level aging analysis that shows which accounts are past due.

The additional, totally unforeseen cost of adding the new new report setup control is not welocme, but neccessary. The implementation is re-started with a new GO-LIVE date.

System Problem #2 Shows Up

The system implementation moves into its final testing, when yet another deficiency in the "Contact Report" is found. The problem is that it takes a very long time to sift through the report looking for ONLY those customers sold through a Manufacturer Rep. The Rep is responsible for managing that customer account, so this is very important. So now there is another unforeseen problem that must be solved, calling for yet another series of unplanned, emergency meetings to resolve this new problem.

The solution to this problem is to automatically label (categorize) each customer account with its source of origin, i.e., either as a DIRECT or REP account.

The UNEXPECTED COST of the solution to this new problem is VERY LARGE since it involves significant changes in Customer Maintenance, Sales Order Entry, abd also the "Contact Report" Setup and Report processing. This is totally unacceptable since it now threatens to significantly REDUCE the financial benefits of the new system system.

System Problem #3 Shows Up

The new system system goes LIVE, and yet another NEW deficiency is reported by the people responsilble for collecing severely overdue accounts. They want to see a report of just those accounts that are 60 days or more past due, since it takes far too long to sift through the full report looking for just those accounts over 60 days past due. Again, another significant EXTRA COST is required to add a new control and modify the "Contact Report" (again!)

What is the Best Solution?

A typical system system use so many functional areas in the entire task of "identifying requirements" can be quite overwhelming. That is why many Web-based system software selection services and technology evaluation centers sell pre-populated RFPs. But, as we have discoved above, an RFP system software requirement are not adequately define your needs, especially a static system software features list created 3 months or 3 years ago. What is needed is an up-to-date list of system software requirements that truly reflect all your system software configuration, operational, and management requirements. The best, most efficient way to do that is described below.

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"The detailed requirements we found in the RFP template for process manufacturing ERP, as well as Infotivity's effective help, enabled the successful outcome of our system software selection project."
      - Diane H., Natural Cosmetics Mfr.

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