The “Silver Bullet” in an ERP Implementation? Organizational Change Management

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Posted by: briansittley Comments: 0 0 Post Date: November 25, 2014

change2Don’t let those three big words above put you off.  If you’re going to change out your business software, you need to embrace the rather simple but too often neglected advice that follows.
Eric Kimberling is CEO of Panorama Consulting Solutions, a frequent writer on ERP topics and one whose work we occasionally reprise here in our blog, largely because the conclusions he often draws so aptly reflect our own after 25 years in the business.  Recently Eric penned a post (found here) about a term called “organizational change management.”
Well, that moniker may be a bit daunting but as they say, “a rose by any other name…”
What Kimberling really gets at when speaking of OCM is actually, and simply, doing all that it takes to ensure that the ERP system you eventually deploy is well matched to the needs of your company.   How?
The steps can be readily identified, which Kimberling does, with our own spin added, below:

  • For starters, more lawsuits over ERP systems that his firm has testified in were the result of poor attention being paid to the process of change a company must undergo when implementing a new system. We couldn’t agree more – it’s where the hard part lies.
  • So… while it doesn’t need to be rocket science, change management does need to encompass a few key guidelines, like:
    • Executive and stakeholder alignment: from the top down, the entire organization must understand the process and goals. Everyone must buy in.  This is most critical.
    • The readiness of an organization to change: Your team doesn’t change because you “told” them to. Rather, you must identify root causes for any organizational resistance through surveys, focus groups, or plain old-fashioned conversation.  The good news is, that’s cheap and easy.
    • The impact of change: Although each person may be affected differently by the change you are imposing on them with a new system, one thing is certain: everyone will be affected in some shape or form.
    • Communications matter: Besides communicating the organizational changes that you expect to occur, take time to describe the what, why and how of your project. Focus on how these changes will affect
    • Customize your training: Things like conference room pilots, iterative testing, client re-testing, and individualized training can all have a huge impact on the success of your implementation. Ignore these at your own (very great) peril.

Truth be told, there is no real silver bullet to ERP implementations.  Software vendors might have you believe that cloud, or all-in-one, or “the new technology”, or… whatever is this year’s model of delivery holds the secret to success.
Baloney.  It’s about people.  It’s about process.  It’s about the business – and how you communicate all these to, through and across all the tiers of the organization.
Above all, ERP is a collaborative effort.  Treat it as such… involve your team… pay attention to the impact your changes are likely to have… and you will greatly reduce your chances of success, and your odds of failure.

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