The vital role of change management in ERP implementation cannot be overstated: it is critical to minimize employee resistance to attain a successful implementation. Whether your new ERP works will depend on how well your organization manages the human side of the transformation.
4 change management strategies to improve the implementation process include:
Learn more about each to better understand the role of change management in successful ERP implementation.
In the terms of ERP implementation, “change management” refers to how well the people using the new software adapt to it. When a company decides to adopt a new ERP or upgrade the system, the role of change management determines how smooth the implementation will go for the users. If employees don’t like the new system, their resistance can lead to low productivity or an ERP implementation failure.
Successful change management is possible with a few key considerations:
Investment in the ERP’s success needs to start at the top. Those in leadership roles should be the first and primary advocates for the new ERP. Since they are the ones responsible for selecting the ERP, they should be sharing how it will help the company’s overall success.
Change management identifies and cultivates other leaders within the organization who can champion the ERP project. These leaders play a crucial role in motivating and guiding employees through the changes. If they aren’t fully on board with the change, why would anyone else be?
Change management is all about getting the human side of business in order. It’s key to engage stakeholders at all levels and across all departments in the process. Start by identifying change champions willing to act as sponsors for the new system. The selected representatives, ideally from different departments, are the change management team in charge of streamlining the employee side of implementation. Together, they will act as advocates for other end-users, helping them understand the benefits of the ERP.
Another job they’ll have is identifying and addressing resistance as early as possible. This might mean talking to other employees about their concerns with new workflows. It can also be from reading about ERP implementation failures at other organizations to find out what went wrong. This is where having multiple departments represented is critical, as different areas of the organization might have different concerns.
ERP implementation projects without open, clear communication channels are more likely to fail. Crafting a communication plan is another way to involve stakeholders in the implementation. Most importantly, they’ll want to know how the new ERP system will impact their roles and responsibilities.
Updates on the implementation can take the form of emails, in-person meetings, and newsletters. As long as the method is consistent and timely, it should help employees adjust to the upcoming ERP. Ideally, some communication should be interactive so potential users can share concerns before implementation takes place.
ERP training programs are an important part of change management because they help the primary users get direct experience with the software. Continuous learning and skill development is another way to reassure employees that their concerns are being addressed. Any issues with the new workflow should be taken seriously.
Of course, the adjustment period doesn’t end once the ERP is implemented. Regularly collecting feedback from users is a popular strategy to overcome resistance. The information gained can be used to shape strategies for continuous improvement in future change management processes.
There are many different change management models out there which cover everything from business transformation to personal grief management. For ERP implementation, here are three popular frameworks:
It’s important to note that, since change management is based on human behavior, some models will work better than others simply based on who is using them. Hybrid models which mix two or more frameworks together are increasingly popular since they allow implementation teams to customize their approach.
Some examples of effective change management leading to successful ERP implementation include:
In contrast to all this success, one famous ERP implementation failure occurred in 2004 due to poor change management. The US Air Force tried modernizing financial systems and supply chains with an ERP. Yet high management turnover on the project meant there was a lack of consistent leadership to guide the project.