Easy does it: A consumable approach to change in ERP implementation

Dr. Shannan Simms
By: Dr. Shannan Simms
Date: February 25, 2020

In today’s business technology landscape, organizations across all industries are growing increasingly dependent on digital innovation initiatives to achieve internal and external goals. At the top of the list, 52 percent of IT decision-makers report the primary objectives for digital innovation within their organizations are improving operations and business procedures.

As more organizations begin and are in the process of digitally transforming their operations, 90 percent of companies who have begun the transition report facing significant obstacles to success. Why is this the case? It’s not because of the technology, but rather because the impacts on people were ignored or neglected. A large factor to new technology and process adoption comes from how well your organization prepares its people for change. Neglect is a large contributor to projects facing significant obstacles. When certain elements do not get completed or are done poorly, projects suffer. These areas of neglect can range from improper budgeting to missed deadlines, but one of the most challenging elements is managing the people side of change.

Creating a Strong Foundation

Countering human resistance to change is often more challenging than the technical aspects of moving to a new ERP system. According to Prosci, the global leader in change management best practice research, the number one reason employees resist change is that they didn’t know about the project, or why the project was necessary. A simple start in creating transparency is a regular communication cadence that employees can rely on. Communicating messages five to seven times through different methods helps to cut through organizational roadblocks. Additionally, using face-to-face communication either in groups or one-on-one meetings helps to convey that a message is important enough for the leader’s time and employees should pay attention. Transparency allows employees to have open and honest dialogues, which creates an environment that is more open to change and likely to produce better project or initiative results.

Deliberate Organizational Change Management (OCM) helps protect your implementation project against unnecessary risks. In addition to communication, engaging the right people at the right time in the design process helps to increase trust that the solution meets the business needs. Successful change starts with reviewing current processes, identifying where there is room for improvement, and focusing on how new technology can play a role in this improvement. Communication efforts need to include who is helping during this process.

Outcomes of the conversations need to be aligned with communication efforts to help prospective users who will be affected by new processes and technology understand what changes are coming, when, and why. Additionally, training needs to be more than point-and-click on the new system and should focus on the context of the business processes on how to properly work in the future state. Preparing, supporting, and equipping employees with the tools and information they need during and after the change is critical to drive adoption.

The Risks of Poorly Managed Change

Large-scale organizational projects always come with speedbumps and obstacles, which may affect project success rates. When the project is managed by strong leadership, getting over those humps increases dramatically. Conversely, poor project management and lack of executive engagement may lead to longer adoption rates, going over budget, and decreased proficiency.

Embracing Change

A large change such as an ERP implementation or technology upgrade needs clarity, organization, and communication, with strong executive support. Taking a deliberate approach to change and engaging users in design and discovery sessions greatly increases the likelihood of user adoption. Taking small steps into the new behaviors, creating weekly check points, and creating an environment of transparent communication enables a smoother transition for all. Growth is the main goal of this whole process, both for the company and the people involved.

Organizations that openly embrace OCM are more equipped to minimize the negative effects of large-scale change on people and accelerate the transition to new ERP adoption.

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