The ERP discovery phase is essential and should be one of your first activities to assess your business needs and the key motivations to start such a strategically important project.
Do you currently have the right business processes for your organization in place today? Prior to starting an ERP implementation it is absolutely crucial to analyze, define and document your current state of operations, identify where processes intersect across different operational units and pin down inefficiencies. You can’t align software with your processes unless you first know what's included in those processes. This will not only help you figure out trouble spots that your new ERP solution may be able to address, it will also let you identify features that are deal breakers in terms of features you’ll need to keep your operations running smoothly. However allow for adopting the best practices and workflows of the ERP, rather than trying to change the ERP to accommodate your organization’s current processes. If you try to mold the new ERP to your old processes, you may lose the efficiencies built in to the solution, while your organization could get maximum efficiency by adopting the ERP’s integral strategy for operational flow.
Your processes only work in context of your business data. Having a well-defined data conversion strategy in place, while also having a good handle on the data cleansing efforts will benefit your project. You actually could start with the cleanup of the master data such as customer, vendor and product lists to avoid transferring any duplicate or outdated data to the new system. You also can identify standard naming conventions and abbreviations upfront, such as spelling out “Company” versus entering “Co.” Keep in mind that data migration is simply the automation of a process and until you have defined a process, you cannot automate it.
Ask you information technology department to conduct a full review of all customizations, integrations and reports, and further organize the findings by topics in the business process categories. That way you can clarify during the selection process, if certain customization, integrations or reports will be needed in the new ERP, and if so, then you already have your requirements defined. Again, allowing to adopt best practices and workflows of the ERP, rather than trying to change the ERP to accommodate your organization’s current processes may eliminate the need for a customization, integrations or report, at least in case cases.
If you missed part one of this series, take a look here: How to Really Prepare for Your ERP Implementation.