Change management and ERP combine to achieve a well-functioning enterprise

All businesses seek to improve operational efficiency in order to remain competitive and keep ahead of the pack. Leveraging the appropriate technology tools to reach those goals is an ongoing effort and key to success. But deploying new technology alone does not guarantee that the organization is improved and operating at its optimum.

It is the forward-thinking organizations that understand that merely swapping out a legacy ERP solution for a new, more capable option is not the end of the process. Change management must be a part of the ERP implementation in order to achieve improved operations and reach the desired future state.

Change management is a critical component in the evaluation, selection and implementation methodologies and must permeate the team culture as the company transitions from the current state to the future state.

Change management: a typical scenario

Transitioning stakeholders during the process undergo a typical scenario.

  • Awareness of desired change
  • Understanding change direction
  • Buy-in translated to the work setting
  • Commitment to personal change 
  • Ownership – internalization of new behavior

People issues can be an impediment to achieving those goals. Consistent communication throughout the process is critical. When leadership does not understand the functions and benefits of the new process, the workforce may be slow to accept the wisdom of the changes needed to operate more efficiently. It could also result in costly and avoidable remedial work after the implementation.

Five key change strategies

Mobilize and align leaders

It starts with identifying the stakeholders within the business units and throughout the enterprise. It’s essential that the case for change is accepted by leadership. It requires that the team communicate the project scope, rollout strategy, and decision-making process. The implementation team must be empowered with the authority to make decisions.

Check out our free ERP implementation checklist so you don't miss a step in your ERP change management plan

Assess and manage “people” opportunity and risk

A well-defined change management strategy will address the cultural changes that the implementation will create. A robust communication plan will keep the organization abreast of changes and provide the rationale for why the change was necessary and will ultimately result in a change for the better. Organization and people readiness assessments conducted early in the process will help avoid unnecessary roadblocks.

Engage and communicate with stakeholders

Define and deploy a detailed communication plan which includes how answers will be communicated, by whom and when. Communicate the project scope, objectives, milestones, deliverables, and critical success factors.

Design and develop the future organization

Assessing job redesign and competency requirements and planning accordingly ensures that the workforce is ready for the new processes and technology. Develop and implement a transformation plan that defines actions, responsibilities, and timeframe. Changes to HR policies and procedures are simultaneously revised to address performance management, compensation and classification, recruitment, hiring, and onboarding.

Prepare and equip the workforce

Assess the current workforce for skills, abilities, experiences, and capabilities and develop training strategies to close gaps. Develop employee action plans that focus individuals on critical tasks and put the right people in the right jobs. Carried out properly, the action plan outlines how staff will be empowered and effective in the new workplace environment.

New technology without change management presents risks

When it comes to change management and ERP, the emphasis must be on people and processes along with technology. Success follows from a structured, purposeful approach aimed to help transition people, teams, and organizations from their current state to the desired future state.

We’ve learned that change management is not just a phase. It must be woven into the fabric of the project and built into the project plan and team culture throughout every phase of the project.

Adhering to a thoughtfully executed strategic plan for change management – along with the appropriately selected technology solution for your company’s unique needs – will result in the future state that you have envisioned at the project’s inception.

See the blog for additional information.

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Andrew Bolivar

About the author…

Andrew Bolivar serves as Senior Consultant at Ultra Consultants, as well as the Director of Ultra’s Center of Excellence, an enterprise vendor research initiative. Andrew is a 17-year manufacturing and technology industry veteran with experience within manufacturing, management consulting, and the software industry. Andrew has conducted multiple, full scope business technology selections and implementations across multiple manufacturing verticals. Andrew holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign.

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Andrew Bolivar

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