The importance of business analysis in ERP projects

There are different opinions about which project methodology is best for ERP implementation. The truth is that there is no perfect and universal approach that will work well with every ERP system and every company. However, regardless of the methodology applied, there is a factor that the sympathizers of different approaches agree on: business analysis brings great value to all projects. What’s more, many IT insiders often consider analysis a crucial part of a project.   

The role of business analysis depends on the project methodology

In methodologies that focus on gathering all requirements in the initial phase, and offer the ready product as a whole at the end of the project (such as Waterfall), the business analysis can be  conducted only at the beginning.

In contrast, Agile methodologies (such as Scrum, Kanban, etc.) involve continuous business analysis in multiple stages of the project, not only the initial one. In our experience, this approach to BA is the most appropriate for ERP implementation. The main advantage we gain here is better scope management. Every change to the initial requirements, any divergence from agreed-upon requirements, and all additional features are immediately analyzed, allowing to provide information about the time and cost needed to implement the changes. 

ERP implementation stages at which it is best to conduct business analyses

ERP systems are usually very complex because they need to be adapted to multiple business processes present in your organization. Therefore, it often turns out to be a challenge to finish an ERP implementation project within the promised budget and time. To minimize this risk, we recommend conducting business analysis in the following stages of the project:

  • Pre-Initiation: Before you decide on an ERP system you want to implement, we recommend that you conduct an internal analysis of business processes that you’d wish to be handled by the new system. Involve the whole organization in this process, not only the management board or leaders. Gather all information you can, and then decide on what you actually need to have implemented as MVP. 
  • Initiation: This step usually involves analysis conducted by business analysts from the software house you consider cooperating with. The goal of this process is to ensure that your requirements are understood correctly and confronted with the ERP system you want to implement. This will help the software house to prepare an offer for the project, and you will be able to verify their professionalism.
  • Progress: During the project, every feature and every business process should be analyzed. This way, you will gain an opportunity to check and confirm each analysis conducted, so that you may provide additional information or voice a need to make changes. It is beneficial to do it before development begins because it will help you avoid additional costs later on. 
  • Reception: At the final phase of the project, when most of the major features are already implemented, you should take some time to analyze the outcome. We recommend that you involve here the departments from your organization that will be responsible for working with the system (e.g. accounting, finance, HR, etc.). 

Let’s be realistic, it’s not all roses

While business analysis brings many advantages to projects, especially in systems covering many business processes it also has some disadvantages that you should be aware of. Firstly, it takes time. A quick and brief analysis will not bring any real value to you, since it will most likely miss all the important details of your business processes. Secondly, not everyone can do it. Not everyone has an analytical mind –  and that’s ok, after all, there’s a great value in diversity . Nonetheless, when you are implementing a complex system, you need to find such people within your organization and involve them in the process. Lastly, it costs money. Whether you have an analyst in your own company or use help from the one from the software house you’re working with, it still requires additional costs.

However, if you take into consideration the risks and additional costs that may occur when the analysis is skipped, such as modifications or additional features after the project is completed, it will most likely turn out that deciding on close cooperation with business analysts the better, more economic choice.