Formalising ERP Selection Criteria
Xavier Burgués Illa Univ. Politècnica Catalunya Edifici C6 Campus Nord Jordi Girona Salgado 1- 3 08034 Barcelona. Spain +34 934 017 006 firstname.lastname@example.org Abstract We present a proposal for selecting ERP products from a formal description of their relevant characteristics. The work is based on a previous and successful collaboration with a midsize company in the field of software package selection. An ERP was selected following a systematic methodology called SHERPA. In this past experience, SHERPA relied on natural language descriptions of the application domain, user needs and candidate ERP solutions. In this paper, we show that a formal language may be used for modeling this application domain, translating user needs into requirements over the ERP products, and for reflecting how concrete ERP products adjust to them. Having selection criteria used during ERP acquisition formally modeled, as well as user needs and ERP product descriptions, we expect to obtain more reliable and understandable results in this process. Keywords Software selection, requirements specification, ERP.
Xavier Franch Univ. Politècnica Catalunya Edifici C6 Campus Nord Jordi Girona Salgado 1- 3 08034 Barcelona. Spain +34 934 016 965 email@example.com
Joan Antoni Pastor Univ. Politècnica Catalunya Edifici C6 Campus Nord Jordi Girona Salgado 1- 3 08034 Barcelona. Spain +34 934 017 021 firstname.lastname@example.org
Current practices in the software industry give an increasing importance to software procurement . A significant instance of software procurement relevance growth is the clear trend in both private and public companies with regard to their current options for software-based management information systems: the fast and wide proliferation of large packaged ready-made Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, surely among the most extreme examples of current Customisable Off-The-Shelf (COTS) software packages . We have experienced the domain of ERP selection by means of a collaboration with a midsize company, that we
nickname Magic for privacy reasons. The collaboration ended with a successful selection of an ERP for this company and was carried out using a new methodology called SHERPA [19, 20]. The methodology states systematic selection phases and involves documents and information which were expressed in natural language in this reported experience. Despite the satisfactory results of the experience, we believe that it is possible to improve a particular aspect of this work. We think that procurement processes should be as well-defined and systematic as possible . For this reason, as other authors agree [1, 7, 14], we advocate the use of formal notations for structuring the criteria used during software selection, for describing software components with respect to these criteria and in general to help the whole selection process, including tool support. In this paper we aim at contributing to fill this existing gap in software procurement. We will show that it is possible to use a formal language as a support of the SHERPA methodology. We use NoFun [4, 5], a language conceived to deal with components and packages selection criteria. The formal resulting descriptions of selection criteria, which we consider satisfactory enough, are detailed in sections 3 to 5, after a short explanation of the SHERPA methodology appearing in section 2.
2. Overview of Sherpa
For the purposes of this overview, we define ERP software acquisition as the following decision process: clearly define the need that should be fulfilled with the help of an ERP product and/or related service; find suitable products and services in the market that may help in the fulfillment of such a need; establish appropriate criteria for the evaluation of ERPs; evaluate products and services in the light of these criteria; select the best available product and service, or the best possible
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