Making ERP change management effective

November 6, 2014
Posted in ERP
November 6, 2014 TM Group

Making ERP change management effective

Effective change management means getting employees involved in the process early.

For many companies, implementing enterprise resource planning software means major changes to the way different business tasks are completed. This isn’t a mark against ERP, however. The processes that ERP are altering or replacing are often outdated, inefficient or otherwise less than optimal. The end result of these changes is obviously positive, but organizations need to understand that some significant differences may arise in the way many different things are done.

For the company’s implementation team, among other users who are deeply involved in the selection and setup of a system, it’s easy to foresee the changes that result from ERP coming a long ways away. However, employees who are less connected to the installation of a new platform can easily be surprised to learn that some of their major tasks now require a different approach than they had before, or that they’ll have to alter long-term habits to successfully use ERP. These are all legitimate concerns, and ones that can be addressed successfully with some planning ahead of time.

Getting employees on board
Managing the changes that come along with a modern ERP solution can be made easier if the implementation team and other stakeholders start getting others involved early on in the process. However, the best place to start isn’t with technical training about a system or teaching employees how they’ll incorporate it into their daily duties, but rather with an explanation of the rationale behind the decision. Advice website Small Business Trends pointed out the value of such explanations, noting that they lay the groundwork for future learning efforts. Although employees aren’t learning anything directly related to the practical application of ERP software, they are being provided with a reason why the change happened. This can help them understand why the new system is in place as well as make them feel generally included and valued. This sort of discussion should ideally take place early on in the implementation process, so that the idea of learning a new system can set in before training and actual use begin.

Another aspect to consider is helping staff members understand how an ERP system will make their jobs easier. By emphasizing this part of the overall process, employees will realize that ERP doesn’t just mean lowered spending and greater effectiveness for the company, but improvements in their own positions as well. This approach can help bring staff members on board as they understand the new software offers positive change for everyone involved. Fitting these two concepts into ERP training is vitally important.

Work from the top down when possible
Managing change is easier when the decision-makers in the company – in this case meaning both the implementation team and the executive suite – come out in favor of a new system or process. Having confirmation from the top that a new ERP solution is a good decision and is supported throughout the business can make adoption among the rest of employees a simpler task. One option in this situation is to have various c-suite leaders explain, whether in person or in writing, why a new platform will benefit the area of the business they oversee. Having support for the switch come from the executives, and then work down the line to department heads, team managers and front-line supervisors creates a consistent message that will be picked up on by many employees. Although it’s just one of the many factors that lead to successful change management, top-down support is a very important one.

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