You have just spent many months doing your due diligence to replace your aging order management system: gathering user requirements, writing an RFP, getting capable system vendors to bid on it, conducting demos and selecting the finalist. Yet there is one more activity that, if not done superbly, will shake management’s confidence that implementation of the new system will go smoothly.
If you haven’t adequately studied and documented how management, at every level from CEO to department managers, will get the needed information they’re used to having - your credibility could be in trouble. We are talking about the necessary reporting and key performance indicators needed in order to run the business on a daily, weekly, monthly and year-end basis. Even when business analysts feel they have done an adequate job of determining user requirements, the reporting functionality frequently gets cut short. There are a variety of reasons for this:
- In requirements and demos, users often spend too little time reviewing the entireorder management system. Some feel they can do it in half a day. In reality, it is a two-day task—and even then you run the risk of not seeing everything the system has to offer.
- Vendors have stopped developing reports—yes, that’s right: no reports. “But we have online presentations of key data!” software vendors and less experienced users will say. Of course, when you go live with the new system, users line up at your door and want to know, “Where are those 10 important reports I had in the old system?”
- Then there’s the fact that management, while sponsoring the order management system replacement effort, takes little time to see whether their most important data is in the new system or find out how they will get it. The biggest area of systems deficiency is in the lack of plans and historical data. Many systems have been developed without history by product, category, list segment, total business by year, or any other criteria. Department Management therefore has adapted with its own Access database and spreadsheets; this can create disparate results from one department to another. This inconsistent reporting happens because of using different data elements and/or different calculations deriving different results.
- Order management system vendors convince the users that they can develop the reports they need with a report writer such as Crystal Reports, a query language or a data warehouse tool the vendor has included in the purchase agreement. But here’s the problem: Do you know how many and which reports will need to be replaced, or how much effort this will take? Our experience in implementing systems over the last 30+ years is that there are literally hundreds of reports that have to be replicated in order to be comparable. One recent client we assisted with selecting and implementing a system, we discovered there were over 200 key reports that would have to be replaced in some form.
Think about some of the reporting and key performance indicators needed for your various departments
- How will Merchants get their merchandise performance reports in order to determine what to buy and when? Do they require history? Plans? Vendor scorecard analysis? Category trending? Contribution to profit?
- Does your Marketing department require Customer Relationship Management (CRM) analysis or promotional response analysis? What about customer compliance, opt-in and opt-out capabilities. Understanding who your best customers are and what they have purchased so you can better promote to their buying habits?
- Do they need numbers by channel performance in terms of demand, sales, average order, etc.? How about conversion rates for first time to multi-buyers? Reactivation of inactive customer accounts? What about history and plans?
- Is there productivity analysis required for the distribution center? Does the system provide measurements such as receipts, put away, replenishment, pick, pack and shipments per hour by employee? Does it offer reporting to better plan the day with the ability to preview the order queue for orders by carrier level of service; next day, two day, etc.?
- If your company operates a call center for customer service and order entry what reporting is available to analyze the customer services representatives productivity; orders per hour, average order value per CSR? What analysis will it provide to measure their upsell and cross sell to an order? This data may be crucial especially if you are paying the CSRs incentives to do so.
I believe the point has been illustrated. Here’s what you need to do: Be proactive in soliciting specifics on what data analysis and reporting is required. Collect the requirements and determine where each report analysis will come from in the new order management system. Get users to sign off on the new system, confirming that it meets their needs. Cost out the time and effort required to provide all of this and make it a key factor in your system conversion work plan. I think you’ll find that reporting is an area of systems requirements on which many don’t spend enough time before going live.