Business Analysts, Solution Architects, and a Successful ERP Implementation
Deciding to invest in an ERP is not always an easy decision. While you know eventually the purchase of the software will help improve productivity, eliminate redundancies, and enhance your company’s ability to grow, knowing what to expect in an ERP implementation can help you realize these business benefits quicker. Understanding the different roles involved in an ERP implementation project can help you maximize the value of your ERP and ensure a successful implementation.
To maximize the business value of your ERP implementation it is critical to have both business analysts and solution architects working together to ensure all stakeholder needs are accurately defined and delivered. The roles of the business analyst and solution architect have changed over the years, as has their importance to a successful ERP implementation.
The best definitions for both business analysis and the role of a business analyst come from the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). The IIBA describes business analysis as “the practice of enabling change in an organizational context, by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders.” Therefore, it is the role of the business analyst to enact change to improve business practices. During an ERP implementation, the business analyst works directly with the project stakeholders to define business requirements needed to maximize the business value of the ERP solution. This may include many people within your organization, from the IT manager to the CEO.
Where the business analyst works with the project stakeholders, the solution architect works directly with the business analyst to identify and create a solution that meets the business needs of the stakeholders as agreed upon and documented by the business analyst. The solution architect integrates multiple systems or business changes to arrive at a cohesive functional solution that meets the needs of the stakeholders. To do so, the solution architect reviews the business, stakeholder, and solution requirements prepared by the business analyst. He/she will also incorporate all documented business and technical constraints identified by the business analyst, project manager, and other team members.
Considering all this information, the solution architect will propose a combination of ERP software and business process changes that will fill the business gap and provide a solution that delivers the documented future state of the organization.
How It All Comes Together
The business analyst and solution architect work closely together during the project. First, the business analyst works to identify, refine, and bring the stakeholders to agreement on requirements. The business analyst then presents and communicates the requirements to the solution architect. Next, the solution architect – working with the business analyst – identifies and crafts a solution(s) that meets the client’s needs. The business analyst will then recommend the solution to the stakeholders and document how the solution meets the business need and directly traces back to the requirements.
While the business analyst and solution architect roles are significantly different in the tasks they perform, they both have essentially the same goal in the end: to maximize the business value to the client by delivering a future state to the organization that meets the needs of all the stakeholders.