Software Shopping: A Recipe for Success – Part 3: Analyzing Processes / Preparing Scenarios

In Part 1, we talked about how to avoid cash register shock and surprises, and in Part 2 we talked about how to prepare the ingredients list for your recipe.

Every recipe, however, has two parts: the ingredients list and the procedures.

If you have ever followed a recipe you know that the procedures are the steps required to turn the ingredients into a delicious meal. Similarly, when software shopping, simply listing the ingredients (requirements) without defining how they fit into the processes that drive the day-to-day operations of the business, does not fully tell your story.   Therefore, to complete your recipe and articulate your needs, the key business processes should be described in narrative business scenarios.    Moreover, there is no better time to analyze the business processes, unshackle them from the constraints of current systems and practices, and re-imagine the desired future state of your business.  The envisioned future state should drive both the requirements list and the business process scenarios.  Omitting these steps can result in a new system that makes the existing as-is processes more efficient, but misses a huge opportunity to utilize new technologies to implement redesigned to-be processes, and power a future state business that is both efficient and effective (efficiency is doing things right, effectiveness is doing the right things).

Many consultants working on system selection projects focus on the detailed requirements list and not the business scenarios, and utilize a series of individual interviews to gather the requirements.  My preference, where applicable, is to utilize a series of facilitated workshops.  Workshops are cross-functional and process driven (e.g. procure to pay) rather than focused on a single department/function (e.g. purchasing).  The advantages of the facilitated workshop approach are:

  • Focuses on both system requirements and process improvements
  • Leverages synergy to envision the future state
  • Breaks down silos
  • Builds buy-in and consensus
  • Initiates change management up front
  • Allows more team members to participate without increasing cost

Vendors will be asked to respond to the requirements and describe how their solution will address the business scenarios in a written proposal, and then demonstrate the solution in scripted scenario demos.


Up Next: The RFP and Demo…

© Charles J. Riess 2017