So you spent the last year or so preparing for the launch of your new ERP system. The core project team has made this their full-time job, you invested in training super-users and end-users and you have engaged and informed the rest of the staff about the coming changes that will result from the new ERP system. You just had your go-live celebration and will finally be able to use all the new features and realize the planned benefits.
But alas, the euphoria doesn’t last for long. Barely a few weeks into the launch you start to hear the moaning and groaning through the grapevine. It quickly escalates into a tsunami of discontent. Naysayers are running amuck with negative comments like, “I told you this wouldn’t work,” “If they had only listened to me in the first place” and the real morale killer, “What were they thinking?”
Assuming you included organizational change management in your ERP project plan, you know that implementing a new ERP system has the potential to be a very disruptive change. When you went live with the new ERP system, people were moved out of their comfort zone – that place where all is well with the world, where I know how to do my job and things have worked just fine for a long time. It’s also the place where actions are limited and excitement wanes – certainly not the place where innovation thrives.
As a leader of the change accompanying the new ERP implementation, you must work very hard to mitigate the inclination to move directly from the “Comfort Zone” to the “Panic Zone” that comes from the reality of the going live with the new ERP system. The “Panic Zone” is a place where disbelief lives and fears stop all action. It’s the place where discontent thrives and, if left unchecked, where ERP projects go to die. Where you want your team to be is in the “Discomfort Zone.” It’s that place where anticipation and excitement lives; where you feel challenged and where you grow and learn; where you can ask questions, seeking to continuously improve and become solution-oriented. It’s where leaders earn their stripes.
So with your team well on their way to the “Panic Zone,” what do you do now? There are several proactive steps that you can take to get the team back on track and rally the troops through the “Valley of Despair”that comes with virtually every ERP implementation. Your goal is to minimize and blunt the resisters to change and commit yourself to supporting the transition to the new ERP system.
Following are the top ten things you and your core team need to do to mitigate organizational change issues:
- Listen – Engage employees to identify the root causes for discontent.
- Rearticulate the vision and goals – Help your staff understand why you decided to implement a new ERP system. You have to repeat this message over and over to be believed and to be heard.
- Be honest – Acknowledge that change is uncomfortable. Be real and let people know you are challenging yourself to go into the “Discomfort Zone” and that they need to as well.
- Stay focused – Be true to your strategy and process.
- Engage your change agents – Enlist them for a two-way communications loop.
- Embrace the naysayers – Turn them into advocates and evangelists.
- Train end-users – Identify any gaps in training and move quickly to rectify.
- Celebrate quick wins – Acknowledge accomplishments for each department. Use every available communications medium to celebrate and announce “wins” and include end-user testimonials. Third-party endorsement will add credibility from trusted coworkers.
- Reiterate functional KPI’s – Make sure each department knows what their key performance indicators (KPI’s) are for the new ERP system. Make it tangible beyond the higher level goals but show how they link together.
- Be visible – Get out of your office and attend department meetings, host a town hall, solicit questions and be accessible for confidential one-on-ones.
There are more actions you can take but starting with these ten will put you, as the leader, in position to regain your momentum while helping keep your team focused on the vision and goals of the ERP implementation which most certainly include return on citizenship, making your employees more efficient, productive and hopefully more satisfied in their jobs.
Learn more about making your employees more comfortable with your new ERP system by downloading our white paper, Organizational Change Management in Public Sector ERP Implementations.