Implementing a new ERP system is challenging, no doubt about it. But the tangible benefits a new ERP system brings—enhanced security, reduced costs, increased efficiency, and improved agility and flexibility—can’t be ignored. You also can’t ignore the Change Management (CM) issues a new implementation generates.
Addressing ERP Change Management issues early on facilitates project success. Neglecting them wastes time, money, and human resources. It also impedes project success. Sometimes, it dooms the project to fail even before implementation starts. With 50% of ERP projects failing, you need to do everything you can to ensure your project succeeds.
The 7 Best Practices for ERP Change Management
Below are seven proven ERP Change Management best practices when implementing a new system. They’ll help you drive your project forward and avoid bottlenecks and roadblocks:
1. Choose the right technology partner
Choosing the right technology partner is paramount. Look for one with in-depth experience implementing new ERP systems—preferably in your industry. Your partner can help you choose the right ERP software solution for your situation and spearhead implementation. That frees you to deal with the CM issues early on. Waiting has consequences.
2. Create a Solid Communications Plan
Creating a good communication plan is critical. Define the change in your plan, explain why it’s needed, and describe the desired results. Communicate the expected benefits in your plan as well. Follow these six steps for creating a solid plan:
- Outline project’s objectives
- Define the plan’s target audience
- Decide what information is needed
- Agree on methods and frequency
- Decide how to measure success
- Take steps to improve your plan
Communicate early and often with all stakeholders. It boosts awareness and transparency and builds trust.
3. Analyze Organizational Climate and Reaction to Change
Use systematic, measurable assessments, like change impact analysis and change readiness assessments, to analyze organizational climate and reaction to change. Determining the risks, pockets of resistance, and the pain points generated by the project, your employees, and the company is essential.
Use this information to define the steps you’ll need to facilitate change. Resistance can come from anywhere. Older employees, for example, may resist change more than younger ones. Resistance also can come from system dissatisfaction, workflow interactions, or shifts in power or political structure.
And make sure all those involved understand their roles and responsibilities. That breeds project success.
4. Involve all Stakeholders in the Project
Stakeholder management is critical to project success. Six areas of stakeholder engagement to focus on include sponsorship, impact, communication, readiness, compliance, and responsibilities.
Start by identifying stakeholders with a stakeholder analysis and determine their resistance to change. Then categorize them by impact and determine how to communicate with each.
Also, get stakeholders involved—even if it’s just to consult with them.
Involving stakeholders dampens resistance to change, inspires stakeholders to help with the change, and encourages them to take ownership. That increases your chances of succeeding with the project dramatically.
5. Include Change Management Activities in the Implementation Plan
Develop a high-level change management plan, including key deliverables, the timing of these events, and the resources needed. Build flexibility into the plan. Allow for adjustments based on future insights and data. Then, coordinate this plan with your project implementation plan. Incorporating CM activities in the project plan establishes change management as a valuable part of the project.
6. Determine and Educate a Change Management Team
Designate members of your change management team. Then educate them on your CM methodology. Make sure they understand what tactics you will be using across stakeholder groups by explaining the methodology’s most critical steps. (You may also want to designate a project champion early on in the project. He or she can shepherd the plan from start to finish.)
7. Think Seriously About Training
Think about training requirements for individuals and departments early on. Ideally, you should start thinking about training when you select your software solution. If you decide against doing it that early, then address it in the implementation effort stage just before it starts. Planning training schedules first, then set aside time for conducting it.
Allot the most training to the heaviest users. Occasional users may also need training. If you lack the internal resources to train your staff, check with your technology partner. They can help. Training is too critical an issue not to do it.
Finally, don’t cut ties with your implementation partners after going live. There will be bumps in the road as you transition. So, stay in touch with your tech partner. Maintaining a solid professional relationship with it can save you time, money, and grief later on.
Change Management Success Breeds Project Success
Implementing a new ERP system is no picnic. But a successful implementation generates tangible benefits you can’t ignore. It may even redefine your company. That won’t happen if you ignore the change management issues involved.
Tackling CM issues is as critical as picking the right ERP software—maybe more so. Dealing with change management early on. It eliminates project roadblocks and pitfalls. More importantly, it boosts your chances of succeeding with your ERP implementation dramatically.
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