Gap analysis is a well established technique for business analysts working on COTS (Commercial off-the-shelf) package implementations. It is amazing that this simple technique can be helpful with so many analysis challenges. Most gap analysis is done in a matrix or table where the analyst can keep track of the business needs in one column and note the package support for each business need in another column. Consider a few of the common uses:
The most common gap analysis is a comparison of required business data elements to the data elements supplied by the package vendor. This analysis can be as simple as “Does the needed data element exist in the package? Yes or No” or can be very complex including do the characteristics of the data match (e.g. CHAR vs. INTEGER), do the lengths of the data elements match, and do the validation edits match the business needs?
Another useful gap analysis is between terminology. Your business area may call its customer organization COMPANY while the CRM package that you are installing calls them ACCOUNTs. A table cross referencing these terms along with notes about how the package definition differs from your organization’s definition is very useful throughout the project and after implementation.
Business processes can be matrixed against package features to make sure that all critical processes are supported. Notes in this matrix can explain how package features will be used or modified to support the business activity along with which role in the organization will utilize each feature.
Expand your use of gap analysis for COTS, department mergers, and even internal software development projects. Whenever you have an AS IS and TO BE system, there is a risk of gaps.