An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is a totally integrated set of programs that provide enhanced support to all your organizational activities. Microsoft Dynamics GP is a prime example of one such system and the implementation of this tool, like any other ERP, should never be taken lightly.
As we implement an ERP system in various businesses we find a common theme that is a huge risk to the project, even before the project has officially been chartered. This risk pertains to the workers’ resistance to change.
Going into an implementation many of us make the mistake of assuming that everyone from the business is onboard and will accept your ERP with open arms. If we make that assumption then we have already set ourselves to fail and the user adoption of your ERP will be the primary cause of this failure.
In order to save the project from imminent failure, we, as Project Managers, have to identify that project champion and that change enabler who will bring about the cohesion between a changing environment and changing perspective of your employees. Change has to come top-down, therefore, as a C-level executive it is unjust to expect your subordinates to adopt change while you continue with the old ways. The project champion is best selected from the higher executive bracket of your organization.
There needs to be effective communication and it has to be bi-directional. This is especially true with ERP implementations because the change is enterprise wide. To aid in this process we have to involve our team early in the project phase. Knowing what currently works, what needs improvement, and what is just plain broken, is best discovered by talking to the people that actually do the work and face these hardships first hand. When your team is involved in making business process improvement decisions they will be receptive to change knowing it will enhance their day-to-day work.
Another strategy change managers can employ when the effective communication falls short is to attach monetary benefits to early adopters. This can be in the form of cash bonuses, promotions, time-offs and even vacation time for those workers that show an improvement in productivity upon using the ERP system. For this to be successful you have to clearly define the goals and objectives into measurable outcomes and obtain everyone’s buy-in.
The project team must create short-terms wins if they are going to see the ERP system succeed. Regardless of the size of the organization implementing an ERP with the “big-bang” method is not always the best approach. Break the organization into functional departments and deploy the ERP to one department at a time. The functional departments can be further broken into smaller chunks when the organization is very large.
Change has to stick and for that the change enabler and project champion must be persistent and encourage ongoing progress reporting. You have to hold people accountable otherwise they will go back to the old ways.
Lastly, change has to be woven into the corporate culture because the only thing that is constant is change.