Development of a Change Request Template for ERP Systems to Increase Time-Efficiency
Keywords:Change management, Change requests, Enterprise system, ERP system, Requirements specification
Market environments are changing at an increasingly exponential rate. Technological breakthroughs, the internet, globalization, and the consequential emergence of highly volatile and competitive markets have made managing a company more and more complex. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems support the successful management of businesses in such conditions. As the needs and expectations of markets are changing, so are the requirements for ERP systems; new or altered requirements are implemented continuously.
This paper explores how companies can become more time-efficient in their specification of change requests and whether methods from requirements engineering can be applied. In the practice of two sizeable German manufacturing companies, we observed that specifying change requests is time-consuming and inefficient. Sophisticated ERP systems are complex; thus, changes require a detailed description of requirements. In practice, the description often lacks information. This leads to reclarifications with the requestor, difficulties when assessing the expected benefits of change requests, and uncertainties concerning prioritization. Moreover, there is a risk of approval and development of changes that are not fully understood. Therefore, unwanted side effects harm the ERP system and require even more costly corrections later.
The methods and procedures are taken from the design science research; we intended to develop an artefact that supports companies to become more time-efficient in the process of describing, evaluating and prioritizing change requests. We interviewed experts from a large automotive supplier and analyzed the data through content analysis. The research concluded that some methods from requirements engineering can be applied to this context, such as the usage of requirements specification templates, quality criteria, and categorization of requirements. The primary results of this research are an artefact in the form of a new change request template for the use case of changing ERP systems. This template was applied in the automotive supplier's change request practice, where we also gathered feedback on the artefact. The conclusions from data and results of the involved parties reported that the new template increases transparency on what information is required and serves as a foundation for rejecting change requests lacking descriptions. Implications for further research are to increase transparency and additional guidance that already has successfully brought the intended benefit of saving time in this process.