When preparing to implement an IT system for a company, special attention should be paid to the pre-implementation analysis. This is an important stage of the project, which is not only responsible for the correct configuration of the programme, but also allows you to optimise the operation of the entire enterprise, and this in several ways. In today’s article, we take a closer look at the benefits of performing an analysis and show how wide-ranging its impact is on the smooth progress of the implementation.
In our article you will read:
- What is a pre-implementation analysis?
- In which projects is a pre-implementation analysis performed?
- Why perform a pre-implementation analysis? What are the benefits?
- What stages does a pre-implementation analysis consist of? How long does it take?
- Who performs the pre-implementation analysis?
- How does pre-implementation analysis influence the further stages of system design and implementation?
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What is a pre-implementation analysis?
A pre-implementation analysis is nothing more than the identification of your business needs, on the basis of which we select and configure your IT system. During it, we look at how your business works and the processes you want or need to improve. It is mainly carried out for projects implemented according to the Waterfall methodology, i.e. ready-made boxed systems that may possibly be supplemented with minor programming additions, e.g. related to integration with other programmes.
IT analysis is not recommended for large projects during which dedicated solutions are being developed, especially if they are designed in line with Agile methodologies. In such situations, we replace it with a functional system design, which includes information on the functionality and architecture of the solution, the technologies used in it and the appearance of the user interface. This allows greater flexibility when designing dedicated applications. This is very important in projects where the system being developed from scratch may undergo significant changes, e.g. functional or technological.
Pre-implementation analysis is more rigidly created, assuming a 20% margin of change in the project. This is why it is used in the implementation of off-the-shelf systems, as it focuses primarily on preparing their configuration for the needs of your business, based on information regarding:
- processes that the system is designed to support,
- departments that will work on it,
- integrations, migrations or minor software additions, which, among other things, will speed up the implementation of the system.
It is also worth mentioning that we can divide pre-implementation analyses into two types:
- domain analysis– is a study of the needs and operations of individual company departments, e.g. accounting, production, and logistics; based on the results, we tailor the software’s functionalities to the needs of these sectors.
- process analysis– in this case, we are looking at the processes within a company; it defines a path of action that usually passes through several company areas, such as the order or sales process.
Nowadays, we are more likely to perform analyses in terms of process improvement rather than focusing on individual departments.
In which projects is a pre-implementation analysis performed?
As we mentioned earlier, we perform a pre-implementation analysis primarily when installing boxed systems, such as ERP systems. It works great when optimising areas of the company such as accounting or human resources and payroll, i.e. operating under external legislative regulations.
The analysis also works well in companies where there are elaborate workflows – top-down and maintained standards to which everyone adheres (e.g. documents or workflows). The key here is the constancy in the way the processes to be optimised are carried out. You cannot improve something that is constantly changing. This is why we advise against carrying out analyses in companies where processes are not highly standardised and can undergo significant changes even from week to week.
Why perform a pre-implementation analysis? What are the benefits?
The benefits of performing a pre-implementation analysis are many. First and foremost, it is a moment in which we can take a calm look at the way the company operates and how it is structured. Sometimes during the analysis, unexpected topics and areas can come up that can be further optimised, e.g. procurement or production processes. This provides our customers with an additional opportunity to speed up operations or find savings. The IT analysis also allows us to detect bottlenecks in the company and suggest ways to eliminate them.
It also answers the question of whether the implementation of the customer’s chosen system is really possible in their company. In most cases, the answer is positive, but it is difficult to be 100% certain without an analysis. It may turn out, for example, that the contractor’s needs are so specialised that a boxed system standard cannot cope with them. This is a common problem in manufacturing companies. In such situations, the customer usually decides to implement a dedicated system. So whether it is reasonable and feasible to install an off-the-shelf solution is another important question that the analysis must answer.
Conducting a pre-implementation analysis also gives a real answer to the question of what the project costs will be. In the course of the analysis, things may come to light that were not included in the initial pricing, e.g. additional modules. The analysis also details and confirms the timetable for the implementation of the works and defines the date for their completion, and thus the implementation of the entire system.
What stages does a pre-implementation analysis consist of? How long does it take?
The pre-implementation analysis actually begins at the very first contact between the implementer and the customer, i.e. at the software sales stage. It is then that we get to know the general outline of expectations, the characteristics of the enterprise or the areas and processes that the actual analysis will cover.
Another important moment, which occurs even before the contract is formalised, is the presentation of a demo version of the system. During these, we catch what the customer pays attention to when familiarising themselves with the programme running on fictitious data and then take them into account in further actions.
This is followed by the actual phase, i.e. performing a pre-implementation analysis. This usually involves several to a dozen meetings at the customer’s company, during which we present an action plan and schedule of meetings, get to know the decision-makers (including those from individual departments) and conduct an interview about the company’s work. This mainly concerns technical and operational information presented to us by previously identified key users, i.e. employees responsible for specific areas. This information allows us to understand the customer’s processes, trace their flow path and then find ways to optimise them.
This stage is usually followed by a debriefing, where we check whether we have obtained all the information that is relevant to us. If not, we usually organise a few additional sessions to flesh out the topics and bring everything to a close.
When the cycle of meetings is completed we begin the writing stage of the analysis document. This can take various forms:
- a text document written in natural language,
- technical documentation, which additionally adds value to the development team.
We usually tailor the final look of the pre-implementation analysis to the project, and there is no single template that says which will be better in any given case. At this stage, it sometimes happens that we still find some unanswered questions. We then contact people we know from the previous stages to fill in these gaps while confirming the whole logical sequence of events in the process.
The final moment is transmitting the pre-implementation analysis document to the client, who then becomes familiar with it. When creating the analyses, we ensure that they are comprehensible and unambiguous for us and the contractor. If there are any doubts about a given provision or new ideas that have arisen in the client’s mind after the meetings, this is the last moment to specify, discuss and possibly add something.
There are usually several meetings to discuss the analysis. During these, we consider comments, and changes and respond to questions and comments. When everything is finally agreed upon and clarified, we close the analysis phase with an acceptance protocol and prepare for implementation.
For off-the-shelf systems, the configuration and implementation of the system are just based on what is included in the document. Occasionally, some minor changes may occur during further work. However, these are details that come out in the course. This is the textbook error threshold of 20%.
As for how long a pre-implementation analysis takes, the process itself can take between 4 and 6 weeks. Unless it also covers the production area, in which case it takes 6 to 8 weeks. And although at first glance this time seems long, in practice, if we were to carry out such an analysis in 2 weeks, the client would have to stop the company’s operations and make the employees available to us on a full-time basis. This is because when we enter a company we have no knowledge of how the company operates. We need to get to know and fully understand the processes, and this takes time.
(Read more: What does comprehensive IT service for companies in Kotrak cover?)
Who performs the pre-implementation analysis?
The pre-implementation analysis is carried out by a team that usually consists of 3 people: an implementation manager, an implementer and a programmer. This is the most basic composition. If we are dealing with an analysis that covers a larger number of areas with more complex processes (such as production), then more people are involved. In this way, we are able to take a comprehensive look at all relevant issues and provide the most optimal solutions for them.
How does pre-implementation analysis influence the further stages of system design and implementation?
The analysis is in fact the foundation for further implementation work. It provides the answer to the question of how to configure the system correctly in order to handle all processes efficiently. According to it, developers and implementers assume, among other things:
- plan of accounts,
- plan, allocator and cost centres,
- we introduce a subordinate structure,
- implementing processes.
On the basis of these elements, we create dependency chains, e.g. responsibility for receiving, accepting and issuing documents. The analysis also supports the design of minor programming additions or integration work with other systems. It also defines the scope of data to be migrated.
It also indicates the number of real users of the system and therefore the number of mandatory licences and training on the programme.
(Read more about Why is it worth testing the software)
This article was written in collaboration with Kotrak experts Piotr Bargiel, Senior Sales and Consulting Specialist, and Tomasz Koziol, Head of Implementation.
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