Business analysis in IT-sector

How to efficiently integrate ERP/CRM system

Maryna Postrelko

Indisputable proofs why it is necessary to conduct BA in IT-sector when you start the work in ERP/CRM system and the detailed BA methodology description from the Digital Transformation Agency “BITEGRICO”.

Frequently, when you face the necessity to implement ERP/CRM system and integrate with the company’s software, the main cornerstone is the lack of the particular business goals understanding for customers and developers both. You can invest money in high-quality product development, install the system, educate your stuff and start using it but after a while the inevitable understanding comes - the prior business goals stay unachieved after the developed functional had been integrated as there is totally absent the strategic goals vision and problematic, which automation was aimed to solve.

Thus, BA role gains the enormous meaning on this stage. Analyzing the client’s company business processes becomes difficult and painstaking work, demanding the substantial involvement in current business processes, evaluation of the existing mechanism effectiveness level and the comparison with the developed scheme by the business analyst.

Note the few reasons, why it is very important to conduct a BA before the ERP-system modules are going to be developed:

  • Clear requirements' definition;

  • Structuring of the existing business processes in order to identify weaknesses that deprive the business of potential profit, and employees areas of responsibility;

  • Creation of the visual and informative model which reflects the current business processes general logic;

  • Definition of the company’s needs in the ERP-system usage;

  • Obtain the recommendations on how to streamline and optimize current business processes;

  • Opportunity to organize business management on the new orbit;

  • Understanding the actual scope of work and expenses amount of the developing and implementing an automation system;

  • Strategic goals definition and the main criteria understanding how to integrate the software in the most effective way.

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Now, let’s consider the “Bitegrico” Agency BA methodology, understanding the inviolable union of ERP-system development & integration processes.

Stage 1 - Interview

This technique is one of the best ways to define the client’s goals and expectations and usually expresses in an individual discussion company’s agents, who are interested in business analysis

A successful interview has three main stages:

  • Planning and preparation (Analysis of the entry materials and getting the company’s activity insights, brief & agenda creation, interview place & time definition);

  • Interview (Personal meeting, communication with the client, questions and answers, key tasks determination, key KPI’s fixation);

  • Follow-up (Includes sending interviewees a copy of notes, and asking them to confirm the BA’s understanding and interpretation of the key tasks, amount of work and the terms it must be done).

Stage 2 - Analysis

Here the scrupulous analytical work is carried out: current business processes are represented in the form of a graphical scheme

Swim Lane diagram is a type of flowchart and graphically displays data, actions, and interactions, documenting all steps and activities, dividing them by boundaries (in fact the flowchart is linear and has limited capabilities compared to the Swim Lane diagram) and showing what actions apply to this or that stage. That is why this diagram is often called a cross-functional diagram.

So, what makes the Swim Lane diagram such an outstanding and useful tool in business-analysis processes?

Firstly, all the elements within the flowchart are placed and matched together in lanes, and you can plan and coordinate when and how a channel is required. These lanes can help identify and visualize stages, organizational units, or any other set of separated categories. And furthermore, it designates who is in charge, who (employees, responsible people, stakeholders and areas) is responsible, who has to deliver or what can be done in which step or by which communication channel and the instant and situations in the process where they are and how they are involved.

Stage 3 - Use Cases writing

Use Case is the script of the technology/product usage, which allows fixing the agreement between the system participants on its behavior.

The scenario describes the system behavior when it responds to the request of one of the participants, called the main character acting under different conditions (Alistair Cockburn).

Based on the Use Case definition we do not have a doubt whether it is necessary to use similar scenarios - it guarantees achieving the maximum efficiency during the ERP-system development process and communication with the client. The main question is - which form of Use Case writing should I choose? Our experience suggests - the best choice is to combine the schematic diagrams, adding brief comments to them. It is considered to be the most convenient, useful and understandable form of communication with the client. By studying this type of materials client obtains the opportunity to visually look through the ERP-system interface and gets the user guide at the same time.

Building the Swim Lane Diagram it is necessary to take into consideration the various factors

Carefully analyze current business processes, define the product peculiarities and classify the problem. This will help you get the big picture about the way information is currently processed and why.

Then, define all the people, interested in the project realization, the key influencing points, and elements, gather on the meeting with experts and discuss each project detail - otherwise, you will be never able to predict customer’s expectations about the ultimate result.

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Taking all the aforesaid into consideration we would like to remind you about the necessity to conduct a business analysis before you start developing the ERP-system. Exactly this methodology will assist you in optimizing your costs, save employees’ time to identify inconsistencies in the product’s final version, communicate with IT specialists and avoid multiple iterations of the launch and further refinements of the system.