In our most recent posts about how to have a great Conference Room Pilot (CRP), we discussed the need to fully understand business requirements and to document the current state; however, we have not explained why these activities are so important. While we believe the number one way to make a CRP great is to have your CRP scripted and well-practiced, a well-presented CRP still won’t be well received if you did not do your homework. Let us explain.

What is the Business Requirements Document?

The Business Requirements Document is simply what the business is required to do or what it must deliver. Keep in mind that the Business Requirements are not about how the business does what is needed or how it delivers what it must deliver; it is only about the “what,” not the “how.” Keep your Business Requirements document (BRD) to just what the business is required to do or deliver.

Here are some examples of what you might find in the BRD:

  1. Inventory must remain part of the 4 walls inventory until the trailer is closed and sealed.
  2. Inventory must remain part of the yard inventory until the carrier picks up the trailer. A transaction must be sent to the customer with the carrier pickup date and time.
  3. Each pallet and case must be labeled with a unique license plate according to each customer’s routing guide.
  4. Lot numbers must be recorded against receipts as products come into the warehouse and must be recorded against orders as products leave the warehouse to support recall.
  5. For items tracked by serial number, the serial numbers must be recorded against the outbound order.
  6. Shipments must be dispatched during the shipment window to guarantee expected delivery during the delivery window.
  7. For FIFO tracked items, inventory must be shipped by FIFO date.
  8. For expiration controlled items, inventory must never be shipped within 60 days of the expiration date.

Each of these requirements should also have its source documented. As we discussed in a previous post, be suspicious of requirements that don’t have a source or the source is because we have just always done it that way. It is important to challenge those requirements that have no known source. A lot of time and money can be saved by adding things to the “stop doing” list.

Note how these examples are what must be done or what must be delivered – not how. For example in #7 above, does not include how the business manages inventory expiration because how it does it today does not matter for the purpose of uncovering the raw requirements.

What is the Current State Description?

The Current State Description (CSD) is often called the “as is” processes, or, how the business runs its operations today. The CSD should describe all of the in-scope processes from head to toe. This can be done by writing paragraphs or drawing flow charts; how it is captured and communicated is not as critical as making sure you don’t miss anything.

Here is an example of how a process might be described in a CSD:

When a trailer arrives at the receiving dock, the trailer is unloaded to that receiving dock and a pallet and/or case count is manually taken to verify that the quantity delivered matches the quantity on the inbound shipping paperwork before the driver is released. Red cones are placed on each pallet to indicate that the inventory is not available for put away. Inventory control will then verify part numbers, quantities, lot numbers, etc., and assign LPNs to each pallet. Once the pallets are identified and reconciled against the inbound receipt, the inventory will be released for put away by placing a green cone on each pallet. Current dock to stock time is 4 hours.

Once your CSD is complete, you should do a cross-check and see if any of the processes done today are in conflict with the requirements in the BRD or if there are any requirements in the BRD that are not covered by processes in the CSD.

So why are the Business Requirements and the Current State so important?

We have explained what the BRD and the CSD are and included examples to hopefully make a clear distinction between the two documents. The purpose of these activities is to educate the project team on how operations work today, as well as validate what the business is required to do. We believe this is important because if your implementation team does not understand how the business works and why the business does what it does today, they simply won’t be qualified to implement a solution that will satisfy your business needs tomorrow.

We feel so strongly about this claim that we hold a walkthrough with each client to get “tested” on our understanding of the business requirements and how the business satisfies those needs today (current state). We know that when we pass this test the business will have confidence in our team and will know that our team understands their needs and processes. This confidence in the implementation team will help the business to be more open to accepting change when we present the new system in the Conference Room Pilot (CRP).

In our next post, we will discuss the final pre-CRP activity which is creating what we call the Future State Description (FSD) and how this all ties together for a successful CRP.

Missed a few parts of How to Have a Great WMS Conference Room Pilot?

Click here to read Part 1.

Click here to read Part 2.

Click here to read Part 4.