Most industry experts agree that successful ERP projects require a good plan for managing organizational change. An important part of this strategy is an executive steering team that is committed to pushing the project forward. However, ERP history has shown that driving the change from the top down alone may not be enough. Successful ERP initiatives require a bottom up approach as well.
This other major aspect of managing change focuses on gaining user support of the new system early on, and growing it throughout the implementation cycle. It is at the end-user level where the rubber meets the road. Without the buy-in of key managers and employees that will use the new tools, it is unlikely the project will achieve the expected benefits, or worse yet, cause even more problems. In the end, if the process owners will not make the new system fly, who will?
The goal is to get the majority of employees pulling for the change because they see the real benefits when performing their daily jobs. This is more than just attempting to sell users on the features and functions of the new software. It is hard to sell a bald man a comb.
While software is important, most stakeholders will be reluctant to take a blind leap of faith, not matter how great the software sounds. It is unlikely they will support the change unless they understand how the new system will impact their current procedures, policies, responsibilities, and job functions. Moreover, employees will want a voice in determining how the software will be used.
On the other hand, if the project team more or less tries to jam the new software down the throats of middle managers and key end-users, the outcome is predictable…the users will reject it.
If that is not bad enough, the groundswell of user resistance will likely come just prior to the scheduled system go-live. At this stage, there will be little time or money left to react to last minute software changes requested by the users.
One important law of change management is this…most employees will support a business change if the overall solution is actually better than what they do today (or at least not any worse). The solution works from them and for the company.
However, user acceptance does not necessarily happen by chance. It must be planned and involve the right people. When done correctly, these same stakeholders will likely become advocates of the system, and help spread the word to other employees who might otherwise resist the change. Instead of its usual negativity about change, the informal “grapevine” is now filled with good news about the project!
The following are a few additional tips:
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[This post originally appeared on IT Toolbox and is republished with permission.]