Change Management Tips for ERP Implementation Success
Your ERP implementation plan might tackle change from a technical and logical standpoint.
But, if you want to be successful, you’ll need to deal with fear, uncertainty, ego, skills gaps, and any other human-related challenges within your org.
Change management is a structured framework for managing the human side of organizational change. Particularly during complex projects like ERP implementations.
CM strategies work behind the scenes — helping people navigate change, overcome challenges, and succeed in their roles. =
In this article, we’ll lay out a roadmap you can use to guide the change management decisions, strategies, and processes that support ERP success.
Develop a Clear Communication Strategy
Effective communication is the backbone of successful change management. Change is challenging for employees. Without effective communication, complex projects (like ERP implementation) can lead to confusion and resistance.
Here are some tips for developing a clear communication strategy to help teams navigate change:
- Determine what needs to be shared. You’ll need to put together a detailed plan outlining what information needs to be shared, who is responsible, and when that message needs to go out. This plan should also include communication methods. Think — staff meetings, newsletters, emails, and even internal social media platforms.
- Aim for clarity. During times of change, it is crucial to be open and honest with your employees. Clearly articulate the reasons behind the ERP implementation, the benefits it will bring, and any potential challenges that may arise. This will help build trust and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
- Encourage feedback & address concerns. Communication should be a two-way street. Encourage employees to ask questions and share their concerns. Actively listen to their feedback and address any issues promptly. This will help alleviate fears and ensure that everyone feels heard and supported throughout the implementation process.
- Provide regular updates. Keep your stakeholders informed about the progress of the ERP implementation. Regularly communicate milestones achieved, project timelines, and any adjustments or modifications to the plan. This will help manage expectations and keep everyone engaged and motivated.
By developing a clear communication strategy, you can navigate the challenges of ERP implementation with ease and set yourself up for long-term success
Embed Change Champions Across the Entire Org
Change champions are team members who help facilitate change — essentially serving as “change ambassadors.”
Champions help foster enthusiasm and positive perception re: “the big change” within peer groups at work.This ensures that everyone is on the same page, fostering a sense of unity and understanding across the organization.
You can use champions to help with the following:
- Improve communication strategies. Consider how you might use your champions to support the goals of your communication plan. Change champions act as liaisons between management and employees. They’re uniquely equipped to bridge the communication gap between the C-suite and rank-and-file and users.
- Drive adoption among peers. Change champions can help ease fears and concerns associated with transitioning to a new ERP system. By providing guidance, support, and training, they create a positive user experience.
Fuel continuous improvement cycles. Change champions not only advocate for the new ERP system, but they also act as a feedback loop. This helps identify potential issues early on, so you can adjust strategies before the go-live. As a result, you’ll launch with a more efficient, goal-oriented ERP.
Appointing change champions across the entire organization is a strategic move that sets the stage for ERP success. Their ability to inspire, communicate, and connect with peers fosters a culture that embraces change.
Manage Resistance and Address Concerns
Change management plays a major role in combatting resistance throughout the implementation journey.
Managing resistance requires change leaders to gain a deeper understanding of the human aspects of tech-driven change. Tactics can include anything from updating your comms strategy to sending champions to go fight it out on the ground. The important thing is that you address concerns on an individual basis.
A few things to consider:
- Find Out What’s Causing Resistance. Resistance is a major killer when it comes to organizational change. Resistance often comes from a fear of uncertainty. People don’t know how changes will play out for them personally, and they tend to get defensive.
Are people worried about losing their job? Their status? Working with technologies they don’t understand? Whatever it is, you’ll want to address these concerns in both formal and informal communications.
- Be as Transparent as Possible RE: Changes. One of the main reasons people resist change is that they don’t understand why it’s happening in the first place. They may lack details about the reason for the change, what it entails, and why they need to be involved at all.
- Be Proactive About Addressing Concerns. You’ll want to a proactive approach to addressing concerns. Otherwise, they’ll harden into major roadblocks. Be upfront about short-term challenges and the work involved in overcoming them. Develop strategies to mitigate concerns and provide reassurance to affected individuals. For example, you might conduct regular check-ins and feedback sessions to identify and address any issues as they arise.
- Keep Communication Channels Open. Finally, it’s important to keep lines of communication open to everyone involved from the get-go. Establish 2-way feedback channels where employees can voice their concerns, ask questions, and get support from colleagues and change leaders.
- On the leadership side, the best thing you can do here is listen. Acknowledge fears and concerns, offer honest answers to questions, and share resources that might help people adapt to the new situation.
Training & Skills Development
It’s not enough to just select and adopt a new ERP system. Ensuring your team has the skills, knowledge, and resources they need to navigate change is equally vital.
A few things you can do here:
- Build a strong foundation through comprehensive training. Implementing a new ERP system brings changes to the way your team operates. To ease this transition, providing thorough training plays a critical role. Offer a mix of classroom sessions, hands-on exercises, and real-world scenarios to help employees learn on their terms.
- Tailor training to individual needs. Recognize that different team members may have varying skill levels and learning styles. By customizing training programs to cater to individual needs, you can drive engagement and skill development.
- Foster cross-functional collaboration. Promote collaboration among different teams by organizing cross-functional training sessions. This not only enhances communication and understanding, it also instills a sense of collective responsibility for the ERP’s success.
Training and skills development are integral to achieving successful ERP implementation. More than that, investing in employees’ skills today is the best way to prepare for whatever changes lie ahead. In today’s chaotic landscape, that may be the best insurance a business can get.
Build Change into the ERP Infrastructure
According to McKinsey, it’s entrenched behaviors and old habits, not technology, that prevent orgs from reaching critical transformation goals. Analysts recommend business leaders to focus on “embedding transformation” into their infrastructure.
Incorporating change management practices at the core of your ERP implementation strategy paves the way for a smoother transition and lasting success.
Adaptive policies, built-in standards, and real-time AI-driven insights reinforce best practices. And — they keep change management and ERP strategies aligned.
As a result, your organization will be better equipped to navigate the ERP implementation process.
It also makes it easier on employees to “embrace” a culture of constant change. If best practices are already baked into core processes, end-users won’t need to think twice about following them.
In other words, you can use technology to reinforce habits and strategies.
Continuously Monitor & Adapt Change Strategies
Finally, you’ll need to make sure your change strategies can actually keep pace with the real world changes they’re supposed to support. To do this, you’ll need to track and update change strategies throughout the implementation process.
Here are some tips to help you navigate this crucial phase:
- Establish KPIs. Identify the metrics that will gauge the success of your ERP implementation. Continuously track and measure change metrics to ensure they’re delivering the desired results.
- Stay connected with stakeholders. Maintain open lines of communication with key stakeholders like end-users, SMEs, and C-suite leaders. Seek feedback and address concerns ASAP to foster a sense of ownership and collaboration.
- Embrace a culture of learning. Encourage employees to embrace change and continuously learn new skills. Provide the necessary training and resources to enable them to adapt to the evolving processes and technologies.
- Measure & refine change strategies. Track the progress of your change strategies and be ready to adapt them based on real-time feedback and changing business needs. Embrace flexibility and agility to stay ahead of potential challenges.
- Build support structures to keep change moving forward. Build a support structure that addresses ongoing challenges. Think – market shocks, shifting strategies, and emerging technologies.
Implementing change strategies can’t be a one-off event. It’s a long-term commitment that will help you get the most from your current ERP initiatives — and future tech investments.
Change management is a foundational aspect of successful ERP implementation. But – it’s important to remember that change, like all digital strategies, is a long-term commitment, not a one-off task.
Orgs can better prepare for the human and organizational challenges that come with any transformation by guiding end-users through each critical stage – from pre-planning to continuous improvement.