Fit Gap Analysis is one of the core activities of the Sure Step. It’s in fact so important that on most projects this activity should be done twice: the first time you do it on a very high level just get a quick overview of customer’s processes and requirements, and the second time you dive deep down into details to figure out everything.
This is not the first time I blog about it. I explained the meaning of the Degree of Fit, as well as its value in determining the risks of customizing the solution, and then I shared some thoughts about how to use hourly estimates from the Fit Gap worksheet. But every time I think of Fit Gap or I teach it at a course, there seems to be so much more to it.
There are a couple of more points I’d like to address about it:
- How (and why) to engineer the Degree of Fit?
- Isn’t the Degree of Fit a bit too blurry?
- Are the five fit/gap categories really all there is about it?
- Can you inherit a Fit Gap Analysis results from another consultant?
Let’s discuss the first topic today: engineering a desirable Degree of Fit.
The Degree of Fit is an extremely important figure, and yet Sure Step itself doesn’t explain what exactly it does and how exactly it works. What I’ve learned is that it’s never a fixed or final figure, and that not only you can play with it—you just have to!
Generally, the lower the degree of fit, the more project risks you will encounter, and generally you should aim for the highest degree of fit possible. But often, the project is at a huge risk itself because far too often, the budgets for ERP projects are unrealistic, and customers become aware of it just far too late. The problem is that the customers usually don’t know (and can’t know) what kind of a solution you can get within the budget they have, but the consultants should be able to know, and it should be their duty to explain it, not just come aboard with a ton of promises. And crossed fingers.
If there is a tool to really explain to the customer how they can get the most they need with the budget they have, the The Tool that can achieve it is the Fit Gap Analysis Worksheet.
After completing the first round of Fit Gap Analysis, you get two figures: the degree of fit expressed in percentages, and the total estimate of the number of hours used for configuration, customization and deployment of ISV add-ons. The first one tells you how risky it is, and the second one tells you whether this can be done within the budget. The closer you are to the budget (or the more you seem to exceed it), and the lower the degree of fit you have, the more reasons there are to engineer the degree of fit (and the budgetary estimate).
To do this, you mostly depend on the columns in the worksheet called Importance, which is used to specify how important a feature is to the customer. There are business-critical features which a company simply can’t live without, and must be some nice-to-haves, that you could skip safely and nobody would ever ask why.
If you don’t exactly hit the budget, and the degree of fit is low, the first step is to move all the customization nice-to-haves into Phase 2 (using the Rollout Phase column). This will increase the degree of fit, and reduce the estimated number of hours.
If the degree of fit is still not high enough, and you still didn’t hit the budget, you can attack the low importance features to increase the degree of fit and decrease the budgetary estimate further.
If the degree of fit is high, but the budget is still not reached, you can even skip the configuration features. Even though a requirement can be met with a standard feature through configuration, if that configuration is taking a lot of time, you might decide to skip it, especially if the importance is fairly low. For example, having approval workflows for purchase or sales documents in NAV is often within the nice-to-have or low-importance category, but the hit on the budget might be substantial. Instead of spending four days determining the approval chains, documenting them, setting them up and delivering the necessary education, you can take it out of scope for the first rollout and focus on the more important features that can be delivered in budget.
The tough job comes when the budget is not hit, and the degree of fit is fairly low, and there are no low-importance or nice-to-have features left to kill.
There are four possibilities I see, and I’ll discuss them in my next post in detail, but here I’m listing them as a reminder to myself not to forget something:
- Discuss possible alternative approaches
- Discuss the increase on budget
- Give up on some important features
- Walk away
In any case, by explaining what the Degree of Fit is to your customer, and by working closely with them throughout this process, you both increase your customer’s confidence in you, and you reach a much better understanding of the scope of the project, and are thus eliminating some dangerous project risks very early in the project.