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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2. First Workshop on Ensuring Successful COTS Development. Workshop at 21st ICSE, 1999. 3. A. Finkelstein, G. Spanoudakis, M. Ryan "Software Package Requirements and Procurement". 8th Int. Workshop on Software Specification and Design, Berlin (Germany), 1996. 4. X. Franch. "Systematic Formulation of Non-Functional Characteristics of Software". Int. Conf. on Requirements Engineering (ICRE), Colorado Springs (USA), 1998. 5. X. Franch, X. Burgués. "A language for stating component quality". Proceedings of 14th Brasilian Symposium on Software Engineering (SBES), Joao Pessoa (Brasil), 2000. 6. X. Franch, J.A. Pastor. "On the Formalisation of ERP Systems Procurement". Workshop on Ensuring Successful COTS Development (22nd Int. Conf. on Software Engineering). 7. S. Guerra, A. Finkelstein. "Specification of COTS-based Systems". In . 8. ISO/IEC 9126:1991. Information technology – Software product evaluation – Quality characteristics and guidelines for their use, ISO, www.iso.org, 1991. 9. ISO/IEC 12207:1995. Information technology – Software life cycle processes, ISO, www.iso.org, 1995. 10. ISO/IEC 14598. Information technology - Software Product Evaluation. ISO, www.iso.org, 1999. 11. J. Kontio. "OTSO: a systematic process for reusable software component selection". Univ. of Maryland research report CS-TR-3478 UMIACS-TR-95-63, 1995. 12. D. Landes, R. Studer. "The Treatment of Non-Functional Requirements in MIKE". In Proceedings of Fifth European Software Engineering Conference (ESEC), Barcelona (Catalunya, Spain), LNCS 989, Springer-Verlag, 1995. 13. N. Maiden, L. James, C. Ncube. "Evaluating Large COTS Software Packages: Why Requirements and Use Cases are Important". In . 14. N. Maiden, C. Ncube. "Acquiring COTS Software Selection Requirements". IEEE Software, Vol. 15, No. 2, March/April, 1998. 15. J. Mayrand, F. Coallier. "System Acquisition Based on Software Product Assessment", Proc. of ICSE-18, 1996. 16. J. Mylopoulos, L. Chung, B.A. Nixon. "Representing and Using Nonfunctional Requirements: A Process-Oriented Approach". IEEE Trans. on Software Engineering, 18(6) 17. SEI. Software Acquisition Capability Maturity Model Version 1.01, Technical Report CMU/SEI-96-TR-020, http://www.sei.cmu.edu, December 1996. 18. F. Sistach, L.F. Fernández, J.A. Pastor. "Towards the methodological acquisition of ERP Solutions". Research Report LSI-98-63-R, http://www.lsi.upc.es, December 1998. 19. F. Sistach, J.A. Pastor. "Methodological acquisition of ERP solutions with SHERPA", in First World Class IT Service Management Guide (Ed. J. van Bon), tenHagenStam, 2000. 20. F. Sistach, J.A. Pastor, L.F. Fernández. "Towards the methodological acquisition of ERP solutions for SMEs", keynote paper in Proc. of the First Int. Workshop on Enterprise Management and Resource Planning: Methods, Tools and Architectures (EMRPS’99), Venice (Italy) , 1999. 21. Y. van Everdingen, J. van Hillegersberg, E. Waarts. "ERP Adoption by European Midsize Companies". Communications of the ACM, Vol. 43, N. 4, April 2000.
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