Face it. Everyone fears change at some level – and ERP implementations that can provide the backbone of a company’s future are no exception. As Eric Kimberling of Panorama Consulting has noted, “People-related issues are frequently the most difficult aspects of an ERP implementation. Software and other technical-related issues typically pale in comparison to the challenges associated with employee adoption.”
So why is this stuff so difficult? Perhaps because companies too often fail to think through the right approach. So today we offer five top strategies for overcoming this obstacle, proffered by Kimberling on his company’s website, and confirmed by our own experience over 30 years:
- Start with business processes. Today’s ERP systems are incredibly flexible and robust. There are lots of ways to do many things. But if you don’t define your processes and workflows first, as well as your reengineering opportunities, then you won’t have a roadmap for where to go with your software, how best to utilize it and when you’ll know if you got to your destination. The software can help in terms of how processes get done, but you need to identify the needs, the methods and the map. This is why we always insist on starting our implementations with a business process (or workflow) analysis.
- Identify change impacts to those new business processes. Once you have identified the current state of your processes and their proposed future state, you need of course to identify the These are the “to be” processes that will determine some of the success of your implementation, so be sure to study carefully and communicate well what impacts you expect those changes to have. So if you’re replacing a common Excel worksheet that you’ve used every day for years with a new ERP process, all the concerned staff need to under the hows, whats and whens of that plan – and you need to make sure all end up on the same page.
- Begin training well before end-user training. It’s a myth to think that training a few weeks before going live will be enough to get your employees comfortable with the changes. It’s far better to have a couple or a few rounds of training even before they are trained on the specifics of the new system. People first need to understand the business process, the organizational change being accomplished, and the purpose and the mechanics of these processes – and only then train them in the ins and outs of your new software, so they understand the specifics shortly before going live.
- Always assume that you have underinvested in organizational change management and training. Investing in how your employees will take to and relate to their new system is the most overlooked training requirement in the entire domain of ERP. Instead of trying to save a few dollars of budget by figuring out how to cut training, you will be much better served (to quote Kimberling here) “by looking for ways to invest more in your people initiatives. This will actually decrease your overall costs and increase your ROI in the long-term.”
- Ensure your executive and management team is on board. It all starts – and frankly, ends – here if your management team is not on board. The team, both internal and external, will spend their best time if it’s devoted to ensuring that management understands the time commitments (and budget) that ERP projects take in order to be successful. This last one never fails. If you haven’t heard that before, well then, you heard it here first.