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One of the biggest challenges for a business when implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution is not realising the need for organisational change management. Implementing an ERP solution in your organisation implies change and change inevitably will engender some resistance.

Change management is often neglected by managers who think they can provide minimal user training and expect their staff to use the new ERP software without resistance. The impact of a new ERP system is often not considered, in terms of the business processes and the job responsibilities of end-users who will be using the new software.

In a world where everything is connected, we get better results by looking at the whole picture. Taking a holistic approach by connecting people, processes and systems will improve effectiveness and efficiency. This ensures people understand the business process change and accept and use the new system.

If you are implementing an ERP solution, your organisation needs change management for the following reasons:

  • A new ERP system affects an entire organisation, no matter how large or small the company
  • Employees’ day to day tasks may change and with that comes a learning curve
  • An ERP implementation brings more exposure and interaction with new processes and data
  • People can’t embrace what they don’t understand, so communication is vital for presenting information about the features of the new system and how it will benefit employees

So, what 5 components are required to ensure change management is addressed within your organisation?:

1. Management buy-in

Buy-in from leadership across all offices and regions is fundamental when implementing a new solution. While employees may report to the headquarters, their commitment lies where their leadership resides.

If your entire leadership team does not buy-in, an ERP implementation will not be successful. An executive who buys into an ERP solution is included in both setting goals and managing issues pre, during, and post an ERP project.

When measuring the success of an ERP implementation, executives should use benchmarks to set expectations and establish project achievements.

2.  Communication

Communication within any organisation is critical, but often incredibly difficult. Resistance to a new solution is often caused by a lack of communication, as employees struggle to get answers to their questions throughout the ERP project.

The more questions that project managers are able to answer, the more attractive the solution will appear to the employees.

Clearly, it is increasingly important that project and communication teams have a plan as to how they will provide updates and coach managers on how to best deliver the messages to their teams. Language, culture and level of education among end-users has a significant influence on the messaging.

3.  Training Strategy

Change management plans must be developed in order to address workforce transition to the new ERP system, and decide who will be super-users and trainers. A wide-ranging training strategy should account for local nuances, locations and testing prior to go-live of an ERP solution.

A lack of training strategy can have serious implications on the success of an ERP implementation in any organisation. End-user training needs to be ongoing and should include classes, workshops and practical sessions right through to the implementation process.

Continuous training can be achieved by having readily available access to industry-specific business process modelling. Columbus helps teams continuously train by giving them readily available access to industry-specific business process modelling

Skills + Knowledge + State of readiness = High performance end user

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4.  Employee engagement

Building employee engagement is one of the key challenges that most ERP implementations fail to address. Organisational assessments are critical as they ensure that all issues and opportunities are captured across the company.

While this area is often overlooked due to budget constraints, the added expense required for engaging and involving employees leads to quantifiable benefits in the long run. With a proper set of methodologies, the right experience, project sponsors and team members, the employee engagement and buy-in that is required for a successful ERP implementation can be created effectively.

5.  Cultural considerations

Cultural change should be considered an important factor of any effective ERP organisational change management. Some ERP projects have been deemed unsuccessful due to employee resistance to change, especially in union environments or in organisations that have employees with very long durations of employment with the company.

It is important to recognise these signs early in the process so that you can plan accordingly.

Language, education and demographic differences can have a significant impact on how employees understand and perceive goals, objectives, risks and benefits of an ERP solution. It is critical that this is taken into consideration when planning for change.

Sticking to these 5 change management components will mitigate the challenges that your organisation might face when implementing an ERP solution.

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