Implementing new ERP? Important considerations to keep in mind

Change is a simple process that replaces the old with something new. As simple as change is to define, it is extremely difficult to execute. This is because change occurs within the construct of an established ecosystem that is rooted in how the brain questions and challenges new ideas.

Humanity’s evolutionary success has been based on balancing the need for change with prosperity of stability. Yet people are reluctant to leave what they know behind, and with good reason. Our ancestors’ survival was based on the ability to procure food and shelter. Long term endurance often meant developing survival skills, changing habitats, and living off the land.

Introducing a new way to hunt required learning and mastering how to use a new weapon or tool, which typically resulted in lower productivity during the learning process and the risk of reduced food intake for the family as the hunter mastered the new tool. Reduced food intake had a potential and direct impact on survival. 

Our ancestors conducted regular cost-benefit assessments for survival when learning how to use and master new weapons and tools. 

Fast forward to today and our modern business culture. Employee resistance to change is rooted in this evolutionary process. Individuals impacted by change go through a similar cycle of testing the rationale and assessing the value of change.

Check out these ERP implementation case studies for real-life examples of ERP projects

When change is introduced within organizations, no matter how positive, there is always a dip in productivity and performance. This often occurs due to three reasons:

  1. As impacted employees become aware of the change, they question the need and rationale for the change often saying things like “if it’s not broke, why are we fixing it?”
  2. As impacted employees become convinced a change is needed they may not trust the solution if they were not involved or had input to the design.
  3. As impacted employees are asked to learn a new way of working they have to unlearn habits and learn new routines before they become habits, which takes time. 

Leaders often falsely believe that employees will embrace changes immediately after a solution is introduced. However, affected employees take different lengths of time to adjust to what has changed in the way they are to perform their jobs. While we should expect this performance and productivity dip, we can keep the J-curve as shallow and as short as possible by addressing the people side of business transformation.

That’s where Organizational Change Management can play a role. Organizational Change Management (OCM) is a discipline that focuses on being deliberate and managing the people side of change as diligently as we manage the technical solution design. OCM focuses on helping impacted groups of employees to be ready, willing, and able to make the shift and adopt the new way of working. A variety of tactics can be leveraged to inform, engage, and equip employees to make the transition. The key is to be deliberate and purposeful in developing and executing a plan and integrating key milestones into the master project plan so that the focus is on the people and not just on the scope, schedule, and budget.

OCM in Healthcare for ERP

When it comes to implementing new technology in the healthcare environment, there are some unique industry-specific considerations that affect compliance and security. Healthcare ERP implementations require strong internal protocols and administrative safeguards to protect employees from exposing sensitive data. Change can be unsettling for an employee in any setting and the healthcare industry is certainly not different. Readiness for change is important to keep back-office operations running smoothly and it’s also important to ensure the success of the project. We offer the following four considerations and recommendations as you start your planning.

1. Every hospital is unique, serving a specific population of patients and working in those communities. When it comes to change, what works for a large hospital won’t work for a smaller, community-based hospital and vice versa.

  • What we recommend: Take the time to understand the scope and complexity of the change and how ready the organization is to make the transition. Use this information to develop a custom and tailored approach for each location, department, and group of individuals based on how they’ll be impacted by the change.

2. The hospitals’ primary responsibility is to focus on patient care, not technology. The back-office technology allows the hospital to run more efficiently, but much of that work may be behind the scenes for the physician and clinical teams. 

  • What we recommend: Use targeted and high-touch support to help procurement professionals, inventory management specialists, coders, and other healthcare professionals learn new tasks, processes, or tools that they need to use within the new ERP to help speed-up the transition to the new system. Providing high-touch support, on-demand as needed helps hospital employees do things easier, faster, and with greater quality.

3. The psychology of habits indicates that nearly half of what we do day-to-day is based on routines and habits. Changing technology means we must slow down to think about tasks that we didn’t have to consider before.

  • What we recommend: Create a 90-day post go-live plan that includes having an experienced individual on site, next to staff to help them through the transition to build new habits.

4. Many hospitals operate with slim back-office support. Key staff members may already be working at capacity or may work different hours to support shift work. Technology offers opportunities to streamline processes or workflow and we often need these individuals to be involved in the design while they continue to do their day jobs. 

  • What we recommend: Develop a solid plan to support the entire team before the new technology turns on. This should include an end-to-end review of roles, responsibilities, and workflow to identify efficiencies. It should also include staffing options and plans to free up the critical subject matter experts to support the design but to ensure the day-to-day operations continue uninterrupted.

Managing the people side of technology implementations is critical to achieving successful outcomes. According to Prosci, a global leader in organizational change management best practice research, organizations that take a deliberate approach to change are six times more likely to achieve project success. This translates to helping employees more easily embrace new technology and ultimately faster adoption rates. A deliberate approach to change is often in everyone’s best interest and ensures alignment with strategic goals.

If you’d like to learn more from Shannan, you can visit Avaap.

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Dr. Shannan Simms

About the author…

Dr. Shannan Simms is a Project Management Professional (PMP) and Prosci-certified Organizational Change Management expert at Navigator Management Partners (now Avaap, an industry-focused IT services and management consulting firm). Shannan has spoken at several industry events and authored articles on how using a deliberate approach to manage the people side of change can increase the likelihood of achieving desired project results. To learn how to start your next project to incorporate change management or bring Prosci training to your client site and put processes in place to better manage the impact of change, visit Avaap.

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Dr. Shannan Simms

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