Scoping ERP: The value of an independent third-party view
Any organisation readying up for the purchase and implementation of an Enterprise Resource Planning solution is at the start of a long and perilous process with a considerable amount at stake. Appreciating the seriousness of this process, Cognition Education engaged with Verde Group to conduct a Product Neutral Business Requirements assessment – a service which analyses the organisation’s requirements, contextualises them and makes recommendations of the types of ERP solutions which are suitable for that company.
Cognition Education Group is a provider of education consultancy, professional learning, early years and primary tutoring, digital learning and publishing services. The New Zealand headquartered company has experience in more than 26 countries and prides itself in being at the forefront of global education innovation.
Chartered Accountant and Cognition Education CFO Sarah Petersen says that while they could have conducted the work internally, the preference was to obtain a trusted independent assessment. “We’re a diverse global business incorporating nine different companies and types of business in multiple currencies. We wanted an external evaluation of the specific needs of each of our separate businesses, and to ensure we clearly captured our key requirements. By drawing out and understanding the differences and the nuances of each operation, we could understand how this would impact on the choice of ERP solution.”
She notes that working within a business can potentially cause ‘blind spots’, with members of the Finance team being too close to operational issues. “An independent view bypasses preconceived notions and results in a professional document we can use to go to market with Requests for Information and in due course Requests for Proposals.”
Verde designed the Product Neutral Business Requirements service as it recognised a market need in support of ‘specify and select’ of ERP solutions. Key Account Manager at Verde, Wayne Potgieter notes that a wrong move with an ERP can be disastrous. “We’ve seen many examples where an inappropriate ERP has delivered the exact opposite of the desired outcomes. The reality is that there are multiple systems available; nearly all of them are ‘good’, but within context. Every system has its strengths and weaknesses, and any one system cannot meet the needs of all businesses.”
Product Neutral Business Requirements provides a usable framework of detailed needs documents to approach ERP solution providers. With the requirements accurately identified and clearly presented, solution providers can rapidly assess if their system is suitable. Scoping and pricing of the work required for implementation is accelerated and eased. “The service acts as a translator between business requirements, converting this to usable information for most ERP providers,” adds Potgieter.
Petersen says the process included a series of interviews with business representatives, finance and IT teams both here and overseas.
Verde co-ordinated the whole process. They also took care of capturing business requirements from multiple perspectives; that’s valuable because a new ERP system has differing impacts on different parts of our business.
The outcome, she says, is a quality, professional document which enables Cognition Education to assess available ERP options. “It also provides a clear way for potential solution providers to respond. It streamlines our interactions with multiple vendors and avoids a repetitive process of explaining what we do and how we operate.”
Delivered as a service by people who live and breathe ERP means you get a more thorough and professional result which you – and your potential solution providers – can rely on.