The Business Need
Determine the Road to Completion
The client needed a new system for managing all of their item information. This system would manage the item descriptions, images, inventory levels, and availability in their warehouses, as well as item pricing (including regional and promotional pricing). They had previously attempted to fill this need by implementing a third-party application. After investing significant time on the project, they determined that the product they had selected would not meet their needs. At that point, they stopped work and decided to take a step back to fully understand their system requirements. They also needed to determine how long it would take and what it would cost to build a custom solution. The new VP of Technology of the company attended a Geneca event, and was interested in learning more about the Getting PredictableSM definition process. He felt that Geneca best practices could be what they needed to help them define success for their project. They asked for Geneca’s help in defining what they needed for a new Item Information system. Using its requirements best practices, Geneca was engaged with the following goals:
- Align the business and IT goals
- Clarify project roles and accountabilities
- Create a common language that defines requirements and quantifies need and effort
- Create an agreed-upon definition of success using common metrics between the business and IT
- Gain an understanding of the costs and time investment
Using Geneca’s Getting PredictableSM definition process, the client was able to clarify what requirements were needed in the inventory system and to quantify what it would take to deliver it.
The Requirements Challenge
The client needed a new system that would be able to manage all of their item information. This included the item descriptions, images, inventory levels, and availability in their warehouses, as well as pricing (including regional and promotional pricing). They had chosen to implement a third-party application, and were well into the project when they determined that the product they had selected would not meet their needs. The project was put on hold until a solution could be determined.
The Getting Predictable Solution
The client enlisted Geneca to gain insight into the cost and time it would take to implement a custom Item Information solution. Geneca worked with the client to implement a Getting Predictable definition engagement. By using a Getting Predictable definition engagement, the client hoped to clarify their system needs and quantify what it would take to deliver that solution. The business goals defined for the new Item Information system included improving the member’s experience with ordering inventory, improving the merchandising team’s ability to purchase from vendors, managing the item information and pricing, and streamlining the client’s internal processes to improve efficiency and eliminate manual steps and rework. The IT technical team wanted a new way to estimate the workload. They also wanted to see if functionality could be delivered in a smaller, staged rollout, rather than as one large implementation. Through working with Geneca, the company became aware of the fundamental needs of all of the teams. The business team was focused on features instead of the business processes. This resulted in the business team dictating to the IT team how to design the system, instead of defining what processes and functions were needed for the system and letting IT decide how those were to be implemented. Geneca worked with the client to clarify roles and goals in implementing a customized solution for inventory management. This enabled the technical team to better understand the “how” in supporting the business team.
The Value of the Upfront Definition of Goals and Requirements
The Getting Predictable definition engagement allowed the business team and IT team to realign their goals. The merchandising team now had clarity on what defined success, in business terms, in implementing the new system. The business team and the IT team were able to reach agreement on how to address regional pricing. This had been a blocking issue in the previous project implementation and was one of the main sticking points that caused the misalignment between the teams. The two teams also had a better understanding of the costs and timeline needed to build a custom solution to fit their needs. This allowed them to determine whether or not to move ahead with the project. IT continues to learn more about the business perspective and is breaking the project into manageable pieces that focus on the delivery of business value. The business stakeholders are now taking more accountability for their role in the project. Currently, Geneca is involved in another definition project with this client. Exposure to Getting Predictable has increased this client’s awareness of why requirements definition must be part of the discussion between business and IT on project success criteria before development begins. This understanding will change the way this client approaches requirements definition for future projects.