In an article entitled “People First, Technology Second” author Eric Kimberling points out that while the technological (and technical) landscape of ERP have changed much over the past twenty years (or in my experience, 30 years…), the basics have not. People still matter most.
You might not know this by the emphasis sometimes placed on ERP implementations where it is sometimes placed highly on the software, less so on the people involved. But that has it backwards.
While there may be a dizzying array of choices in ERP solutions these days, it’s the people issues that are most likely to make or break your implementation.
Too often, executives overlook this simple fact.
As Kimberling points out in his article: “The end-users of your ERP system are still going to either buy-in or resist the changes based on pretty simple and predictable criteria. Regardless of whether you were implementing ERP systems 20 years ago, you’re starting your implementation today or plan to 10 years in the future, the effectiveness of your impact and management of people during this business transformation will determine whether your project succeeds or fails.”
He goes on to tout therefore the importance of an oft-repeated mantra on the need for “organizational change management.” It’s the critical component, he notes. All the bells and whistles of the technology are for naught if your people don’t embrace, use and build upon the solution to improve business operations.
From not understanding the changes to be made… to not being a part of the process change development… to insufficient training in the software or the processes at hand… to processes not properly defined… to office politics… all of these “people” issues can lead to frustrated implementations that can be late on time and over-budget because management did not give proper time and consideration to the needs of the very people who will implement and use the system they’ve bought.
In the end it comes down to a key point, notes Kimberling: Don’t confuse activity with efficiency. While technology is helpful to the cause, invest the time and resources in organizational change management necessary to train your people.
We would add to Kimberling’s comments by noting from our own experiences that it’s all about the basics of course: Communicate clearly. Identify specific business processes and how they will be managed. Map the software to the process. Train the people, and listen to them. Do the little things right. And lastly, take ownership of your system. It will all add up to a far more successful implementation in the end.