Change Management Strategy For Your ERP Implementation
One of the biggest mistakes we see with ERP projects is not realizing the need for change management within the organization. Sometimes referred to as “that fluffy stuff,” change management is often not valued by managers who think that they will be able to simply tell the employees to use the new ERP software and they will use it without resistance. What these key decision makers don’t take into consideration is the impact that a new ERP software can have on business processes and job responsibilities for those users who have to use it daily. Change management is a systematic method of successfuly bringing about a large and long term change within the organization. This entails identifying the challenges that will occur at both the individual and organizational level, and having a plan in place to solve these issues. Change management should go hand and hand with your project management. Project management ensures your project’s solution is designed, developed and delivered, while change management ensures your project’s solution is effectively embraced, adopted and used.
Here are some key factors to why a change management strategy is necessary with ERP implementation:
- ERP systems affect the entire organization, regardless of size
- Employees daily job tasks will be affected, so there will be a learning curve
- Even companies with the most established business practices will adopt new processes and procedures with a new ERP system
- Communication is the first step to getting employees to embrace using the new system. It allows you to arm them with features and benefits this system can bring not only to the organization, but to them individually as well.
- Employees need the who (introduce project team/outside Consultant), what (which system you selected and why), when (timeline for implementation, go-live date, training), and why (why is this new system necessary).
Here are some key factors that should be included in a change management strategy:
- Executive Team Buy-in. Starting at the very top of your org chart, you need to ensure every manager has “drank the koolaid” as they are the key influencers when it comes to the rest of your staff. Arm them with knowledge and they will be your biggest ally in getting buy-in from the rest of the employees. Having even 1 single manager or leader not on board can put a wrench into a smooth implementation, as lack of acceptance will trickle down into anyone that reports to them, and so on.
- Communication: Open-Honest-Regular. Everyone in your organization will want to be in the know when it comes to change, especially change that will affect them. They will need a plan for change when it comes to their job description and anything that might affect how they complete their daily tasks. Project and communications teams must have a plan for how they will provide updates and coach managers on how to best deliver the messages to their teams. How do your employees respond best: via email, group message delivery, one-on-one, etc? You must understand what strategy for communication will be the most effective.
- Use Empathy and Gain Feedback. The first reaction most employees have to change is resistance and uneasiness. No one likes change. While it is tempting to focus on the amazing new benefits your new ERP can bring, it is important to listen and carefully consider concerns brought forward. It is important to use empathy and offer support on key concerns with consistent two way communications, ongoing training, and tech support.
- Employee Engagement. This step is usually missed in most ERP implementations and it can cause an organization to take a longer time to see an ROI on their project. If you conduct ongoing readiness assessments, you can ensure the learning curve is where you need it to be. Regularly involving and engaging employees along the way can be very beneficial in the long run. Once the system is live, continue to check to see if problems are found, go back to the empathy and feedback stage, troubleshoot, and then train again. Rest and repeat often!
- Training and More Training. You need to first determine who your trainers and super user(s) are going to be. Once you have this established, you need a written plan to transition everyone to the new system. Training must be customized for each process in the organization so that staff see it’s directly relevant to their department. Consider training incentives that focus on the positive and highlights key features of ERP and how it will ultimately save time and make jobs easier in the long term.
Using a change management strategy ensures employees embrace change quicker, leading to organizations being able to adopt new technology quicker and with less productivity impact. Change is hard, so why not provide your employees the preparation, support, and skills needed to be able to succeed with the change. People are your most valuable assets, so treat them as such.
Consider leveraging the expertise of an ERP Consultant, as they can help you devise a change management plan and establish effective training across multiple departments. 2W Tech is a certified Epicor ERP Consultant and can help you integrate change management into your ERP implementation. Contact us today if you considering upgrading or implementing a new ERP system.