How senior executive acceptance of ERP promotes cultural transformation

It is largely accepted that ERP processes generate hosts of impacts on enterprise operations. However, while most folks understand that ‘things change’ whenever ERP platforms involve themselves in daily procedures, there are more substantive issues at work than just showcasing better ways to deliver enhanced business statistics.

Part of this assertion has to do with the way that resources-based tenets alter the way that entire companies behave after experiencing an ERP launch, and at the head of that train of change, senior executives typically drive the locomotive. This recognition is not just related to ‘how’  managers involve themselves with workers in order to get them to sign on to an overall ERP business premise, but instead, how they set the table for everything else that is likely to come rolling down the pipe; whether that is good or challenging.

Consequently, we thought we’d take a look at executive management in general and how that organizational layer relates to the efficacy of a particular ERP evolution. Once that’s explained, we’ll take a shallow dive into how that involvement is tied to enterprise culture as a central driver leading to more efficient operations, and finally, how that component can create enhanced revenue on the bottom line.   

How executive buy-in can change a company’s view of ERP

Aside from various systems infrastructures including software products such as ERP, the most important element in any successful enterprise relates to a confident and highly-active management tier, operating in direct concert with an equally energized workforce. While one might assume that this simple awareness should be self-evident, its reality actually harbors a constellation of complexity, pushed along by a host of willing, and sometimes unwilling, participants.

Truly effective ERP enterprises aren’t necessarily developed from the top down or bottom up, but instead tend to grow from the middle out, nurtured or obstructed by management folks at various levels of leadership. At the top of the organizational pyramid, senior executives harbor strategic vision tasked with overall direction and goal-setting; at the bottom operational leaders represent practical actions that end up creating finished representations of what the senior tier’s strategic vision is; and in the middle, directors and similar executive titles exist to work both directions simultaneously, consequently endeavoring to create a consistent meld between both pure thought and action.

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However, regardless of this long list of apparent enterprise chiefs, actionable thinking cannot emerge at all unless someone first defines a viable business necessity, and when it involves an ERP buy-in particularly, this reality always starts at the senior level. In this case, ERP at the C-level is particularly critical to setting a practical program on the right track in both word and deed, otherwise any promise shown by the technology’s information capabilities will fail due to its sheer complexity; or in more simple terms, someone has to be a parent first, by guiding the enterprise child until it grows up enough to become a dependable member of its own society.

Promoting user adoption

Accepting my previous suggestion may be easy enough to comprehend on the face of it, but as senior management responsibilities go, serving in this type of patriarchal position is probably the hardest thing any executive can face. First, ERP technologies are not a clutch of cuddly kittens likely to purr a workforce to sleep, rather than doing what it’s supposed to do in the right way, at the right time.

Instead, dealing with a large-scale ERP implementation is more like holding on to a tiger’s tail, while it tries to eat your company out of commercial house and home, then decide to spit the bones out on your competitor’s front porch. Consequently, in order to set the table properly, senior folks must be patient and keep being patient regardless of the level of any emergent challenge.

Second, once you’ve got hold of yourself, you must support and engender a similar level of patience within the workforce itself. Obviously there are a host of ways to do this, but in general, if you do nothing else, ensure that your workforce is calm and untroubled while an ERP evolution spins up.

Finally, in enterprise operations, culture tends to mirror leadership, in the same way, that leadership mirrors culture as a rule of thumb. This is particularly true when everything is going wrong at the same time (which is a typical experience in relation to ERP spin ups).

At the end of the day then, remember; if a senior manager is freaking, so will a workforce and vice versa, so bear this in mind as you walk through the ERP minefield, otherwise, your enterprises’ next step could be its last.  

Positive attitudes toward ERP

As we get nearer to the end of our little senior management treatise on ERP and what elements relate to cultural change, there’s another intrinsic need involved. In this case, it has little to do with ERP technology itself, and everything related to getting it up and running sooner rather than later; with a minimal operational and financial turbulence.    

In this event, I’m talking about positive thinking and how it is projected directly from senior management to a workforce. It is expected that no enterprise professional wants to admit that he/she is frightened by a mere software platform.

However, ERP spin-ups are scary beasts, since, by their nature, they always harbor the risk of keeping money flowing in and out of a company’s coffers, and consequently in and out of workforce pocketbooks. As a result, if everything in the midst of an ERP spin-up is going wrong, senior management must be upbeat, since as soon as leadership gives up, the next sound you hear will be your workforce losing confidence, and the impact of that will be much worse than just a one-time experience easily resolved down the road. 

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Rick Carlton

About the author…

Rick Carlton dba PRRACEwire, has worked as a tech journalist, writer, researcher, editor and publisher for many years. In addition to his editorial work, Rick has also served as a C-Level executive/consultant for a wide-range of private and public sector U.S. and International companies.

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Rick Carlton

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