Bespoke development and other ERP tailoring can be very time-consuming when not executed correctly, leading some to believe multiple iterations, last-minute additions, and cost creep are a normal part of engaging in large projects. In fact, many businesses expect that bespoke development will consume more time and money than they are quoted and will schedule in a buffer as necessary. However, this doesn’t need to be a reality. Consider that the costliest and most time-sensitive aspects of a project are typically in the development phase. To help allocate these resources to where they are most effective, a simple adjustment can be made when teams kickoff their project – an answer so simple many businesses wonder how it has been overlooked for
In our experience, encouraging active participation throughout the design process helps teams to surface all their requirements early in the project and save a significant amount of time and money. This is because you are the expert on your own processes and the key to your project’s success.
The Risk of Not Diving Deep Soon Enough
At the onset, teams will determine the success criteria and goal of the project, which will act as a guide throughout. With this information as a basis, an experienced design team will walk through the major pain points users are experiencing and focus on designing the application to support an improved process. These workshops are interactive and user-focused, with the steps of design thinking providing significantly more detail than the initial pain points.
The data gathered in the design workshops is used in development. Therefore, teams must be careful to review the outcomes of the design process and bring to light any additional information that is necessary for your systems integrator (SI) to know. For example, if there are specific areas that have been customized within your SAP system, it is important those customizations or unique business processes are surfaced.
Major risks occur when teams fail to acknowledge these necessary requirements until the development stage. At this point in the process, change requests and redevelopment may be necessary, which results in scope creep and costly fixes. In rare cases, this may result in a project that does not solve the problem as intended and, perhaps worst of all, damaged partnerships (although strangling is extreme).
Design Thinking is a Two-Way Street
While design thinking certainly helps to surface user requirements, the process is a two-way street and requires business teams to play a productive role. You know your business best. If your team is planning to begin a major project, consider these tips.
Review processes with a fine-tooth comb: Go through the requirements you and your integrator helped to craft and ask questions to ensure nothing is missing from what has been documented and what your team may be experiencing.
Select the right team of people: Some of the finer details might require information from an expert. Ensuring those heavily involved in the processes being changed are present in the design thinking sessions ensures any missing user requirements are caught early.
Provide more than the necessary information: While it is a common belief that sharing only the "necessary information" is needed to fulfill the requirement of a project, this is often the first step toward having "additional requirements" being found out later in the engagement, often when development cycles are already in motion. The result is that scope creep occurs, and initial project deadlines are impossible to meet. Therefore, providing more than the necessary information upfront about how your team is working can be to your benefit.
The bottom line is that as much as our team or any SI can help guide your users through a process to collect these details, it is still your team that is responsible for signing off on the complete project requirements.
Bringing Your Project to Life
To prevent any unpleasant surprises, ConvergentIS has created an in-depth onboarding checklist that highlights the responsibilities of the SI and your team, to ensure transparency between parties and set ourselves up for success.
To learn more about the design thinking process and how it can help your team's next project, we encourage you to read the first blog in our series, "Why You Should Care About Design Thinking."