Tips for a Requirements Analysis (Part II)

This is part two of Tips for a Requirement Analysis.  In this article, I am addressing the people component of your system implementation.  Remember, these tips can be used for manual and electronic system implementations.  As a recap, the first four tips were strategic planning, operations assessment, legal and regulatory requirements, and budgetary requirements.  Now I’ll continue, beginning with tip 5.

5. During requirements analysis, human resource requirements should be assessed for pre-implementation, implementation, and post-implementation periods.  Many organizations determine the size of staff needed to make a system change but fail to review operational effects on the human resources of various departments. For example, you should determine timelines of all planned projects to ensure the same team members are not required on multiple tasks and projects simultaneously.  The middle of the implementation is too late to determine the staff cannot handle the workload. You must also identify the impact of system changes on the end user.  Many times IT vendors will contend that staffing levels can be reduced by 20% due to the efficiencies of their system, but they fail to note that such efficiencies may not be realized for up to three years post implementation.  In fact, most organizations will see an initial rise in human resource requirements as staff is called upon to implement a new system while continuing to fulfill their normal responsibilities under the existing system. Good or bad, changes will impact the human factor.

6. The question of whether to use in-house resources or business consultants must be considered. Business strategy consulting can often be more objective about the organization because of their ‘external’ point of view.  Although business consultants tend to be relatively expensive, it is sometimes cheaper to bring on more “hands” on a short-term or interim basis than to increase the organization’s permanent head count. A consultant should be a collaborative resource that is working on the organization’s agenda rather than their own. And most importantly, a consultant can bring a level of expertise to the project that will complement the organizations’ current skill set during the short term.  Of course, all of this must be weighed against the availability of funds, project completion deadlines, skill levels of existing staff, and the like.

7. Proactively identify the champions on the management staff that will remain positive and strong throughout the entire process and ensure they recognize this as their role.  Everyone will have an occasional bad day because any system change can result in refining our stress management skills, but the management champion must be able to remain a positive influence in the face of chaos and reserve any meltdowns to behind closed doors.

8. Build buy-in from key end users.  These same end users can be named the super users or champions that can assist with dialogue, training, and troubleshooting.  Identify the informal leaders within your organization that will be key to the success of the system change or implementation and convince them of the positive nature of the coming changes.  Waiting until the implementation has begun to identify these key resources may result in chaos and fear because, without guidance, these informal leaders may choose to support or oppose the changes.  Involving end user champions in the planning and implementation process can help alleviate or at least minimize fears of the unknown.

9. Proactively identify the potential oppositional management and end-users who will not support the changes and take steps to minimize the damage they can cause to morale, customer service, process design, or production levels.

10. Communicate plans to all levels of the organization.  When we don’t feel as though we know the plan, it is human nature to fill in the gaps with unnecessary and probably incorrect ‘fillers’.  Minimize problems that can be proactively handled by keeping leadership, management, and end-users informed of the intentions and plans for the system change or implementation.  It is better to over-communicate than to not communicate enough.

Following a proactive approach can prevent unexpected budgetary results, not to mention reduce stress on human resources, as well as prevent a negative impact on daily operations. Identifying the strategy and tactical approach at the beginning of a system change/implementation will result in a more positive end result versus the “implementation gone bad” story. The most important step is too often the most neglected.   Spend the necessary time on requirements analysis before moving to the next logical step of system selection.