Most people are resistant to change. A familiar routine is comfortable, predictable and relaxed. At the same time, it’s not conducive to fostering innovation or encouraging a highly efficient and productive work environment.
Teams tend to prefer the familiar to the unfamiliar – especially when it comes to enterprise systems. The reality is that in order to create significant, measurable improvements in business processes which result in a more productive workplace, change is critical.
Enterprise Technology Projects
Resistance to change is the norm, and when a legacy ERP system has been in place for a decade or two, that force can be a detriment to growth. However, there are tactics to help reduce the resistance and create an atmosphere where workers embrace change to improve business performance.
Even at the outset of an ERP project, the stakeholders must be informed, empowered and willing for changes to be made effectively. They need to understand the context of what they are being asked to do as it relates to the overall business and they need to be given the tools and skills required for the new way of doing things.
Replacing or upgrading an ERP system impacts many areas of an organization. It is natural for people to want to know what this change means to them as an individual. Change management tends to focus on the organization as a whole or on parts of the organization based on some definition (department, function, etc.). In failing to recognize that individuals need to make the change, issues or opportunities may be missed that affect the success of the effort.
Why the Resistance?
There are several reasons why organizations fail to successfully implement change:
- Unclear or unrealistic expectations for what the change is trying to accomplish
- Company culture is misjudged or ignored as it relates to how the change will be accepted
- Change management is viewed as expendable
- Company-wide communication is not done effectively or is introduced too late in the process
- End users are neglected in the overall process
- No action plans or meaningful metrics are developed to provide guidance or monitor progress
ERP Projects and Change Management
Based on insights gleaned from engagements with hundreds of manufacturers and distributors in North America, it’s clear that change management needs to be woven into the fabric of an ERP project.
When engaged and involved, those impacted accept a change that is initially deemed negative if they understand that the organization as a whole will benefit.
A successful ERP project plan incorporates realistic timelines and metrics. Once the project is underway, all involved need to assess results and adjust as required.
Change cannot be managed remotely. Talking with people, hearing their concerns and working the issues first hand is a must for anyone who is managing change within an organization. Addressing challenges right away will minimize the issues that get in the way.
Change may be hard initially, but when the positive results are evident, everyone will share in the success and appreciate that without personal and organizational changes, improvement wouldn’t be possible.
This guest post provided by Ultra Consultants, leading independent enterprise technology researchers and consultants serving manufacturing and distribution organizations.