6 Tips To Improve User Adoption And Maximize ROI Of Your Manufacturing ERP


When a company’s top management signs on the dotted line to implement a new manufacturing ERP system, it wants to hit the ground running. Once money is spent on the software, the clock is ticking to get the return on investment (ROI). But make sure you’re not in such a hurry that you skip stages in planning your technology implementation.

When implementing new manufacturing software, the planning stage is actually more important than the execution, and effective planning and change management are what keep the company’s day-to-day efforts running alongside the implementation project. If you want to reach that optimal ROI, you need a solid plan for getting users on board with the new technology.

Here are six tips for encouraging user adoption and improving the ROI of your manufacturing ERP system.

Show Your Commitment

Make sure everyone understands that management as a whole is committed to the ERP implementation, from top management to the line managers. If they’re not, employees are able to sense it, and those that don’t want to go along with the ERP implementation may side with the managers who aren’t committed to the project.

Budget Your Personnel Resources

When a company commits to implementing a new tool in a short timeframe, it tends to spread its employee resources too thin. At most companies, key people don’t have extra time to spend on an implementation, so you need to get creative.

In the past, companies would often hire temporary staff to help with special projects, but temps usually don’t have the same commitment to your company’s success. You need to rely on your most experienced people to achieve your business goals and ensure a successful technology implementation. One option to consider is to redistribute their work so these key personnel have more time to spend on the implementation.

Set a Realistic Timeframe

When a company announces it’s going to launch a new manufacturing ERP system in a short timeframe, it sets up employees for failure. Before they even begin, employees don’t see any way to finish all of the work by the deadline.

Avoid setting an unrealistic timeframe and then continuously pushing out the date. This tells users that your timeframe is a vague goal to shoot for, without serious thought put into it. When setting your timeframe, look for events in your production schedule that are likely push the project off course.

Provide Appropriate Education and Training

Each person learns best in different ways. While webinars or manuals are enough for some people, others need an in-person instructor. Make sure to accommodate the learning styles of your core implementation team to ensure that they’re learning the whole ERP system. That way, when the implementation consultants leave, your team knows how any changes made later are likely to impact the larger system.

Offer Support and Acknowledge Extra Effort

When you’re trying to increase user adoption, offering support makes a big difference. And that support may come in a variety of ways, from listening to a frustrated employee’s feedback to offering rewards and acknowledgement for the extra work that an implementation often involves. When someone has worked really hard to reach a milestone in the project, you might want to give them a day off that doesn’t come out of their vacation time, for example.

Earn the Users' Trust

If users trust the decision process and that the management has selected a good tool that’s going to move the company forward, they’re going to get on board. And if the users don’t trust the management or the decision, they aren’t going to give it their all. Transparent communication and getting a representative group of factory-floor users involved in the planning stages is a good tactic for building this trust.

As you’re moving along with an ERP implementation, you might see that a few people are digging in their heels and not adopting the new system. There are ways to resolve individual situations and head off problems. Commitment, resources, realistic timeframes, education, support and trust — all of these components fall under the larger umbrella of an effective change management strategy.

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Suzanne Koss

About the author…

Suzanne Koss is partner at Wipfli LLP and regular contributor to Manufacturing Tomorrow, a manufacturing and distribution strategy and technology blog. She leverages her highly specialized experience in project management, supply chain and manufacturing software, materials management, system implementation, and process improvement to provide value to her clients.

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Suzanne Koss

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