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Reviewing and Refining Your New System Design


A good time to consider conducting a new system design review is after you have shortlisted a number of software vendors and seen their initial software demonstrations. There are some good reasons to do it at this stage:

  1. You may have seen software features or enhanced processes that were much better than you originally thought possible.
  2. It may be obvious that your current system requirements / ideas / design could be improved.
  3. Or, what you were originally looking for is not completely available. So with only part of your requirement catered for, you need to rethink.

With this in mind, when reviewing RFI responses, software functionality and vendor demonstrations, create a separate file of all the good ideas, enhanced processes, great reports you see.  Some of what you see may affect all the whole design, many system requirements, or just a few small additional requirements. Whatever it is, do not pass judgement at this stage – just collect it. Therefore, you will have a file of ideas to hand when it comes to refining your system design.

Reviewing and refining your new system design can be time consuming. Therefore, the first things to consider are:

  • Do you bother to review and refine your system design at all?
  • If you are short of time, do you simply ignore this stage or pay it ‘lip service’ and stick to your original system design?
  • But then, will you regret it later on?

On balance, we think it is a worthwhile exercise, even if the refined design ends up very similar to the original design. You’ve checked out your design. And you know you have the best design and requirements for your needs.

You will need an agreed process for reviewing and refining your new system design. And one such process could be:

The review process

Review your system design in the light of what you have seen and consider the following questions:

  • Will your current design still achieve the desired business benefits?
  • Are your current proposed processes still valid?
  • Are the project time scales, workloads, costs, return on investment still valid? If not they need to be reworked.
  • Is there additional software functionality available, which could be of real benefit?
  • Are there enhanced processes, which could be of benefit?
  • Is there anything that now appears to be superfluous, which could be removed from the design or your requirements?

Refining the design

Take your file of ideas and review each in turn. Consider the following questions:

  • What are its benefits?
  • How relevant is it to your needs?
  • Is it a desirable enhancement, or just a nice-to-have feature?
  • What is its impact to the current system design, requirements specification, overall solution and to the selection project?
  • Will it give you more or less flexibility in the future?
  • Is it a fundamental change or is it a straightforward addition, which can easily be included within the implementation?
  • Is it so fundamental, that you would need to go back and revisit your shortlist process? Or even create a new project and / or go back to the Board for a revised project approval?
  • Is there a cost attached?
  • Does it improve or worsen the project ROI (return on investment)? And, by how much?
  • Do all or most of the software vendors (you are still considering) provide these features?
  • Ultimately, should it be included or excluded from the system design?

Any such changes to or refinement of the design will require discussion and agreement between the relevant parties.

Agreed system design changes and refinements will need to be signed off. In addition, a revised system design document and schedule of changes / refinements should be prepared for management / board re-approval.


For more system selection information visit: Selection steps / Stakeholder analysis form / Stakeholder management tips / Sample project plan / RACI Matrix / Project initiation checklist / How not to select software / Critical success factors / Software selection time saving tips / Project issue log / Requirements gathering techniques / Reasons to write a good requirements specification / Simple risk assessment form / Risk assessment worksheet / Software prototyping / Project reporting form / Project Status Report Template / Software selection warning signs

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