This post is about Solution Design, which I describe as the time spent to map the business requirements and processes determined during the Process Design. The outcome is a Solution Roadmap.
Solution Design involves taking your business requirements and mapping them to the software application that you are implementing. Some of your requirements will be fulfilled quite naturally in the software. For example, if you are implementing a Customer Management system you will find an area in the system to enter and store customer information. If you are implementing a financial system, you will find a place to enter payables and receivables documents.
These built-in areas will be your starting point, but as you try out your own processes you will find that there are choices to make about who does what tasks, where to enter particular pieces of data, what values are optional and what values are required. You may also find that you need to capture data that the system does not naturally have a location for or you have business requirements or process that are not allowed for in the software at all.
The previously described process phase determines WHAT you need the software to do. The Solution Design phase addresses HOW the software will fulfill your requirements.
So how do you work your way through the software and make the best solution design decisions? The most common method is to work with someone who has extensive experience with the software you are implementing. This can be someone on your own team or a software vendor. They can help you decide the best way to use the software to fulfill your requirements and to implement it using best practices. The outcome of this phase will be a complete solution design or roadmap that will show you what requirements can be fulfilled with the standard features of the software, which requirements can be fulfilled with configuration, and which requirements will require customization.
The end result will provide you with a roadmap for how the software needs to be set up to fulfill your business requirements. With this roadmap in hand you will be able to move forward to Configuration and Customization which are the topics of my next two blog posts.