Organising ERP Projects: The Role of Business Analysts

ERP Projects are extremely complex and involve large scale analysis and organization-wide changes that need to be implemented and sustained. It is easy to feel overwhelmed especially when faced with the scale of the business functions that can be covered.

The role of the BA may not always be clear or emphasised especially when key stakeholders and consultants are also on a project. This article discusses the role of BAs in an ERP project and how they can be organised to add value. How BAs are organised can make a huge difference to whether or not they are empowered to add value to the project.

Let’s face it, the level of involvement of key stakeholders during projects is limited to the number of hours they can take away from their seats. BAs on the other hand, may be assigned to projects on a full-time basis to ensure that key requirements do not slip through the cracks when stakeholders or SMEs are not available.

Organising Business Analysts on an ERP Project may seem like a complex endeavour on the surface. If you create different responsibility areas however, you will start to reap the benefits of having them on board. 

BAs can be organised to support the following:

1) Process Definition

BAs can support key users in bringing clarity to how processes work or should work. This is invaluable information that ERP consultants need in order to put requirements in context. BAs can also support key users in shedding light on current business problems that need to be tackled.

2) Change Management

One can always expect a significant amount of change when implementing ERP Projects. Processes will be reengineered and eventually bear little or no semblance to what stakeholders are used to. This change and stakeholders’ expectations will need to be managed from day one.

Business Analysts can support this change process by communicating the need for the change, participating in project meetings and preparing users for the changes ahead. For example, BAs can participate in kick-off presentations to create awareness or in organising training sessions.

3) Requirements Definition

As part of the analysis phase of the ERP project, functional requirements spanning reporting, module functionality, access rights, process flows as well as non-functional requirements will need to be elicited. This includes identifying customisation requirements that need to be implemented to ensure that the resulting system is acceptable. 

BAs can assist consultants in eliciting these requirements and creating a shared understanding of what requirements are in or out of scope.

4) Interface Specification

Where external systems/interfaces need to be linked to the ERP and vice-versa, the data requirements for both systems and the ERP need to be understood and specified. BAs can support this process by specifying sources of data that need to be considered.

5) Testing

BAs can assist end users with defining test cases for validating that requirements have been met.

The contribution of BAs to ERP projects (and any business project) should start from day one to engender a complete understanding of the system so that the business can reap the benefits of having them on board.

Picture Attribution: “All For One” by hin255/