7 Mistakes When Creating an ERP Specification - And How to Avoid Them
The specification sheet is at the heart of choosing the right ERP system. Mistakes can have serious consequences and result in costly adjustments. It is important to proceed carefully when drawing up the specification sheet and to avoid errors. In the following, we will highlight the mistakes to avoid when creating an ERP specification.
Mistake #1: Lack of Process Orientation
When creating an ERP specification, you shouldn't just describe the functions you need. Rather, the focus should be on the business processes, whose detailed description is the basis for a successful specification sheet. If complete or current process descriptions are not yet available, these must be defined. You can fix known weak points in the planning stage by describing the optimal target processes. When the optimal processes of your company have been established, you can derive the required features from this. The following rule of thumb naturally applies: An ERP system must be able to adapt to the processes - and not the other way around.
Mistake #2: Not Including Input From All Company Departments
The creation of a specification is not a one-man show, but a dialogue with the departments in the company. All departments in the company should be included. After all, this is where the users who will work with the future ERP solution are located. Workshops in which the specific requirements of each departments are discussed is helpful. A distinction should be made between mandatory and optional requirements so that there is no excessively long “wish list”. If you also include critics, this will further increase the acceptance of the final solution.
Once you have collected the input from all areas, an overall assessment must then take place. The goal is not to optimize individual departments, but to harmonize the entire organization.
Mistake #3: Confusing the Requirement Specification and the Functional Specification
The requirement specification and the functional specification are often viewed as synonyms. However, this is not the case. It is therefore important to clearly differentiate between the two terms:
- The specification describes what is required. It is created by the ERP customer.
- The functional specification describes how the requirements are implemented. This is compiled by the ERP provider.
In detail, this means: A specification shows which functions and properties the desired system should have. It is sent to all eligible ERP providers and thus supports the selection process. Once this has been completed, the implementation begins.
First, a workshop is carried out with the selected ERP provider, during which the processes and requirements from the specifications are examined in detail. The result is the specification sheet in which the software provider explains exactly how the technical implementation of the requirements from the specification sheet will look.
The functional specification is the guideline for a concrete plan for the implementation of the new system. It contains exact specifications regarding the software configuration for the specific application in your company.
Mistake #4: Too Much or Too Little Information
After defining strategic and department-specific goals, you will be able to set specific requirements. At this point, you can start to create a specification sheet. Many project managers know from their own experience that this is challenging. The main challenge is to choose a suitable depth of information and to distinguish important information from the trivial.
A description that is too superficial leads to numerous questions and misunderstandings. The other extreme - a specification sheet with a maximum level of detail that covers every eventuality - can hardly be mastered by ERP providers. This leads to a workload that is not in proportion to the benefit. In order to achieve a balance between these two characteristics, the following rules of thumb are helpful:
- Describe processes and requirements in such a way that outsiders understand them.
- Don't get lost in unnecessary details.
- Do without unrealistic "nice-to-have" features.
- Only briefly outline standard features that are required in every company (for example, order-related invoice verification).
Mistake #5: Specifying the Solution in the Specification Sheet
Another important rule for the ERP specifications is: Describe your requirements, but not how they are implemented. In other words: The specification sheet should always be solution-neutral.
This is best illustrated by an example. Let's say you need a function to start your production. If you now write - in an exaggerated way - in the specification sheet “There should be a red button at the top left with which a production order can be placed”, then you exclude all ERP providers who cannot implement the desired button. You may even sort out solutions that start the production order automatically - for example if the stock falls below a defined minimum. A solution-neutral formulation of the requirement would be, for example: "A function to start production is required".
Mistake #6: Not Being Flexible to Changes
Sometimes there is a mistaken view that a specification may no longer be changed after it has been created and is therefore a static document. However, this is incorrect, because the specification sheet should be adapted to any changes that arise. This means that a specification can and should even grow, gain in quality and develop further during the selection process. This is done, for example, through questions from ERP providers, which trigger further research into the company. This is followed by further inquiries in the departments concerned, which may lead to new requirements. However, when making adjustments to the specifications, you should keep your shortlist providers up to date at all times and inform them of any changes.
Mistake #7: Not Taking Enough Time to Prepare the Specifications
Great care is required when drawing up the specification sheet. Allocate enough time for it and not force any hasty decisions. After all, the specification sheet is the basis for finding the right ERP system for your company.
There are three typical reasons why companies do not allow enough time to prepare the specification sheet:
- It is not recognized how important the role of the specification sheet is in the ERP selection and consequently the creation is not given the necessary priority.
- There is a lack of capacity to professionally draw up a specification sheet.
- The company does not have the expertise to efficiently create a specification.
Conclusion: Errors in the Creation of the Specification Sheet Can Be Avoided
The creation of a specification is mission-critical task and incorrect decisions can have far-reaching consequences. You should proceed carefully when drawing up your specification sheet. The free specification generator "ERP Planner" provides you with a framework to guide you through the process. Register without obligation and start creating your individual specification sheet.