Importance of Business Process Documentation in Software Evaluations

When it comes to software evaluation projects, there is one key activity that should never be underestimated – business process documentation.

Business process documentation is critical for communicating what functionality your business really requires from a new system. It reflects the specific needs of your business users and ensures that the functional “end to end” and integration requirements of the organisation are well understood by prospective vendors.

Without appropriately detailed documentation, the project team can lose focus on the core requirements of the business and there may be ambiguity regarding the scope of the project, what the vendor is expected to deliver and what the business is hoping to achieve.

Some organisations take an approach of documenting the “as is” and the “to be” processes using MS Visio diagrams or similar programs, however, we have seen that these diagrams do not enable the vendors to understand the core requirements of the business. They also do not provide support for managing scope and often reflect a view of the past rather than a view of what the business is hoping to improve in the future.

CMC’s Unique Method – Business Scenarios

CMC uses a unique concept called Business Scenarios to document the needs of our clients before we begin looking at potential vendors or solutions. Business Scenarios describe the “end to end” processes for each functional area of the business in plain English, so that vendors are able to understand the specific requirements of the business.

We schedule and facilitate Business Scenario Workshops with the Business Process Owners (BPO) from the various functional areas of the organisation. We begin with a master set of 100+ business scenarios templates and work collaboratively with the BPOs to refine and agree one way of doing things across the company.  The starting point is a curated selection of all the relevant templates ready to be considered by the BPOs for refinement to reflect their business.

We refer to this as a Common Operating Model (COM) of the business. The COM is a common reference, a common process that will be adopted across the company. Staff may be in different offices, states or countries but they will all be encouraged to follow the agreed COM processes.

“Effective documentation is critical to ensuring that everyone is headed in the same direction to accomplish the objectives of the project”

Peter Goes - Managing DirectorCombined Management Consultants

Benefits of Business Scenarios

The benefits of CMC’s Business Scenarios are that they provide:

  • A fast start using an industry standard process that is pragmatic and easy for everyone to use.
  • Scope definition for the software evaluation project.
  • Visibility of required information flows and helps prioritise what the business actually needs.
  • Opportunities to eliminates divergent processes and streamline workflows across the business.
  • One way of doing things to improve efficiencies and reduce operational costs.
  • A “Day In The Life Of” Business Scenario which is a logical flow of processes “end to end”.
  • Improved communications by facilitating collaborative and beneficial interactions across all departments, sites, states or countries.
  • The BPOs with insights on how their area of the business interacts with upstream and downstream processes, including where processes may be improved or rationalised to meet company goals and KPIs.
  • Vendors with the information they need to provide their software and implementation cost estimates with a reasonable degree of accuracy. The alternative may result in many assumptions and variation opportunities once the project launches.
  • A “Measuring Stick” for evaluating and comparing potential solutions during vendor demonstrations. They can then also be used to:
    • Guide the Design Stage
    • Form the Basis for Training and Testing Materials
    • Ensure Variations and Risk are minimised through clear expectations
  • Visibility of unique areas that require special attention.

Business Scenarios help you to focus on

  1. Functionality you need
  2. Opportunities for improvement
  3. Common processes across the organisation
  4. Unique requirements
  5. Specific to your business