Lexicon Systems, LLC Blog

lex'•i•con: the vocabulary of a branch of knowledge. Thoughts on environment, health & safety (EHS), sustainability and information technology to support them.

Fresh off two software selection projects, I am reminded that software should benefit its users, not the IT group. A well-designed software application–or commercial software implementation–starts with documenting clear, solid business requirements.

Solid requirements (prioritized business needs) are critical to success. Good business requirements, coupled with objective evaluation criteria, can help a company to identify a short list of vendors and select a solution that best meets their needs, fits the company’s IT maturity and culture, and that users will adopt.

what happens in vagueness stays in vagueness

Business requirements must be clear, not ambiguous, to both users and IT.

Consider the following tips when developing business requirements. When eliciting requirements, the business analyst should:

  • be clear, not ambiguous.
  • document business needs in terms familiar to the users–not IT terms.
  • help stakeholders reach a consensus on needs (“what” the software does).
  • help the stakeholders to develop standardized business process work flows that are simple enough to use day in and day out. The software implementation will reflect these work flows, which “behind the scenes” are well thought out and can handle exceptions with built in “business rules.”

When eliciting requirements, the business analyst should not:

  • document “molecular” requirements; each should be “atomic” and describe a specific need.
  • discuss the software features or look and feel (“how” the software does it) This will happen after software selection, during design.
  • allow certain stakeholder’s opinions to override what is best for the group as a whole.
  • help stakeholders to develop different work flows for different locations. Use “business rules” to address differences and to allow consistent, enterprise-wide data roll-up and reporting.

Read more about an approach to well-designed software.

Click here for a wealth of articles on software business requirements, evaluation and selection, and managing the IT systems life cycle.

 

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The EHS and Sustainability Software Market Grows Up

Market Growth

The environment, health, and safety (EHS) and sustainability software market is maturing as it reaches the 30-year mark. The industry began with a few small software applications used by a handful of EHS professionals—with little or no data sharing. Today, it is a multi-billion-dollar market with thousands of applications ranging from point solutions to enterprise-capable, Web-based solutions–and plenty of applications in between.

I have observed increased spending on EHS and
sustainability software over the last few years…

Even with consolidation, prospective buyers have a choice of many solutions aimed at different industry sectors, some capable of supporting a global, enterprise-wide deployments and others designed to address a specific issue, such as greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting. As a result, savvy buyers seek professional guidance when selecting and implementing an EHS and Sustainability solution; their solution may include more than one software application to meet current needs while allowing for future growth.

Click here to read about transformation over the years, market needs and vendor offerings, market consolidation and market growth.


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Confronting disruptive innovation article available

Confronting Disruptive InnovationIT departments today must deal with several emerging technologies at once–social networking, mobile/BYOD, cloud and big data/predictive analytics. All of these are disruptive innovations, aka disruptive technologies.

Many organizations encourage disruptive innovation. Take Google for instance. Can you imagine life without Google search, mail, maps, Chrome, earth and other tools? These innovations first appealed to “fringe” markets of “techies” and later moved to the mainstream. simply did not exist just a few years ago, and they have changed the way we live and work.

Other organizations encourage the opposite–sustainable technology that improves the performance of existing products meant for the mainstream. Take Microsoft Office for example. Yes, the interface has changed dramatically over the years and we see new features, but this is a mainstream product with a purpose that changes little.

Read Confronting disruptive innovation to learn more. 


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Software build vs. buy

Whether you have legacy software systems or are starting with a clean slate, should you build custom software to meet your needs, or buy commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software? In Legacy EHS Software: (Re)Build or Buy? Jill Barson Gilbert examines the pros and cons of the build vs. buy options. To determine if build, buy or a hybrid solution is best, conduct an objective assessment. “Build” and “buy” are appropriate for different reasons for different organizations.


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Companies often overlook organizational change management in enterprise software initiatives

Whether you are considering a brand new enterprise EHS software application, or replacing or updating legacy systems, change happens. Change is unsettling, and people’s past experiences and emotions affect the way that they perceive it. Change management is a “people” issue that companies often overlook or do not give sufficient attention when taking on an enterprise software initiative.

Organizational change management is a structured approach to get people from the current state to the desired state. It is a process that involves preparing for change, managing change and reinforcing change. This process involves much more than training, and parallels the software/systems life cycle.

How you handle the change and prepare your people can make or break your IT initiative. Read IT Insight column, Change Happens… Embrace It! to learn how to create an atmosphere that enables software-related changes to work in your organization.


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Have you done your due diligence?

Due diligence is a way to manage business risks. Enterprise software initiatives cost in the six and seven figures and take months or years to complete. Prudent organizations conduct due diligence not only on their software consultants, but also on the software, the vendor and implementation team. The due diligence process starts before you first speak with the vendor.

Read EHS Software Due Diligence is Critical to Success to see sample evaluation criteria, learn about reference customer contacts and get advice gathered from customers in the field.