“Why do we have to go through a needs analysis or study of any kind? We already know we need a new system so let’s just get started with the RFP, ERP vendor demos, etc. and find the best fit!” Gosh, this is music to the vendors’ ears.
The “Standard RFP” is by far the most common form of searching for new systems. It just make so much sense:
- Put together a list of requirements
- Have the vendors respond with answers and pricing
- Have them prove their answers in a demo
- Implement what they demoed.
Then the wheels fall off. The Request for Proposal (RFP) has also been called, “Remove From Project” or “Request For Prosecution”. In either case, the damage to your career is substantial and the good news is, there is a better way.
The “Operational Assessment”, or simply an assessment, differs greatly from the standard “Needs Analysis”. A needs analysis is literally a list of features and functions that users believe they need from a new system in order to be successful at their jobs. The problem with the needs analysis and the resulting RFP is that few users, including middle and upper management, have enough experience with other systems to know what they really need. It’s the old, “You don’t know what you don’t know” concept.
The RFP is one of the most contentious and costly steps in the “normal” ERP selection process. An assessment will review the company’s business strategy, process and people. If one can understand and realize that it’s not really about the technology, but how that technology is applied, the assessment makes much more sense. And one of the biggest advantages is that the assessment can remove the possibility of creating an RFP.
The failure of almost every ERP implementation can be traced back to the origin of the selection; the RFP. Several studies have proven the viability and accuracy of the RFP so we’ll talk about these further in our next discussion.