When implementing a new system or a new module, the analysis phase should be your first step as it is the most important one. This is when you will define internally and with your partner to ensure that everyone understands the project and that both groups are properly aligned with the goal of optimizing your business processes.
The reason why this is important is because this becomes your blueprint for your project where everyone will work together in order to have a clear understanding of your company’s needs and requirements. A great example of this is the comic strip below- although a classic, I feel that it still demonstrates very well the reasons why everyone needs to be on the same page before starting a project and why the analysis is key.
The Analysis Phase of a Project
The analysis phase is used to ensure that everyone understands the vision of the project; it also defines a clear scope. This will help with decisions on “nice-to-have” features that may be mentioned along the way but that may not be necessary to meet your initial project goals. These are usually the culprits in never-ending implementation projects.
This phase is also where any gaps between your needs and the system will be identified. If gaps are found, additional research can be conducted prior to going live with the system to see if it requires any third-party applications or custom developments. By identifying these gaps early in the process, you will be able to make a more informed decision on the overall project.
We know it might be tempting to cut your analysis budget when you need to reduce the costs of the project and this is a phase that is usually one of the first to be dropped along with documentation and training. However, although this process may seem long, it remains an integral part of the implementation since it will set the tone for the entire project. The more that can be defined and clarified at the start of the project, the more time (and money!) you will save in the long run since there will be fewer change orders requested, fewer modifications during the testing period and a higher number of users who will be willing to adapt to this new system.
To ensure a successful implementation, here are three of the actions that we suggest should not be missed during the analysis phase:
- Gather the needs of the different members of your team who will be affected by this new project. By asking for suggestions from those who will be using the system every day, you will have a better insight into the actual needs and information required. In addition to this, you will probably have a greater chance that the users will be open to these new changes.
- Confirm that the project matches your core business goals. From the field level to the complete feature set, make sure that this project has a purpose and that it is helping, not hindering the time required to complete a task.
- Challenge the status quo. Just because you are currently doing something one way doesn’t mean that it is the best way moving forward. Evaluate how you currently approach a process and see if you could do it differently. This may also be a good opportunity to get your implementation partner involved as they may have some industry best practices that they would be able to share with you.
Before starting your next IT project, make sure your project gets off on the right foot and don’t cut back on the analysis as it will probably cost you more in the long run. Whether you are implementing a new module or an entirely new system, ask your partner how they manage the analysis portion of the implementation. It should include an open dialog and approximately 10 to 20% of the complete project’s time. You should also ask your partner if they follow a certain methodology when implementing a project as this may help you have a better understanding of how the project will be handled and if there will be a fit with your organization.
By JOVACO Solutions,