The most important thing to remember about ERP implementation is that people bring about change; not software. A lot of companies use the term “change management” as an ideal outcome or process, as in, “we need effective change management,” without really considering how it will work.
As defined, change management is a systematic method of successfully bringing about large scale, long term changes within an organization. The actual system for accomplishing said change is often less discussed, but it involves taking into account the impact of the change across the organization and among individuals and then addressing the unique challenges said change will bring.
Companies often predict the challenges that new software will bring to the organization, but neglect addressing the impact change has on staff. This is a mistake. Company culture is a key element in ERP implementation success.
To better understand the system behind change management and culture, consider the Change Curve; an adaptation of the Kubler Ross model on how people react to change. In brief, the Change Curve helps you can predict some of the emotions staff experience during change. And this, in turn, helps companies be well prepared to influence culture during ERP implementation.
Ultimately, organizational leaders want to reduce any resistance to change that may occur during initial launch stages and accelerate the movement toward acceptance and enthusiasm. It’s best to support the early stages of change with empathy.
Workers may be concerned that ERP change will make their lives more difficult. Although a new ERP solution may ultimately make the workplace better, more efficient and streamline the work for staff, it’s important not to disregard concerns. While it may be tempting to speak mostly about the benefits of the change, it’s important to give proper time and space for empathetic and active listening about the discomfort that sometimes comes with transition.
What are the Systematic Steps in Cultural Change Management?
Top Down Buy in. Make sure you have key player and management buy in, top down, before revealing the new system to the entire organization. This includes paying attention to influencers amongst middle management. Assure management about the time and resources being dedicated to change and help them understand the relevancy for the firm overall and their individual departments.
Open, honest and regular communication. People want to be in “the know” about change. It helps them create a vision for their future. They also need to plan and troubleshoot according to their job description. This is highly relevant for the individual and the organization as a whole. Don’t dismiss this stage.
Empathy and Feedback. Once staff begins to understand the change needed, they may be initially resistant. While it is tempting to focus on the amazing new benefits coming via ERP, it is important to listen and carefully consider concerns brought forth. One must empathize and offer support on key concerns with consistent two way communications, ongoing training and tech support.
Training. Training. Training. Once concerns are vetted, training will support a staff’s growing positive attitude. This training must be customized for each process in the organization so that staff see it’s directly relevant to their department. Consider training incentives that focus on the positive and use this stage (not Empathy and Feedback) to highlight key features of ERP and how it will ultimately save time and make jobs easier in the long term.
Continuous Support. Some will need it and some won’t, but budget for ongoing support for individuals and departments. Audit and check in with departments to be sure staff are not relying on legacy system steps or not fully utilizing the new system. If problems are found, go back to the empathy and feedback stage, troubleshoot, and then train again.
And finally, consider leveraging the expertise of your ERP vendor for this stage.The right ERP vendor can help you manage cultural change and establish effective training across multiple departments. If you’re considering a vendor, or have more questions about change management, give call Parallel Solutions a call at (440) 498-9920. We are a full service provider and our experienced staff can help assess all your needs from software to training and support.
Mary Jo O'Neill