The life of a CIO is anything but easy – and when you throw an ERP implementation into the mix, all bets are off. CIOs of organizations undergoing large-scale ERP implementations are required to maintain a delicate balance between their role on the executive team and their role in the IT department. This balance is often disturbed because it’s tempting to get carried away with technical issues when new and complex technology, like an ERP system, is introduced to the business.

Let’s not forget the human side of IT, though!

After reading Michael Krigsman’s article, CIO Suicide and the Fight Against Conventional Wisdom, I gained a new understanding of what it means to “look beyond the mechanical aspects of the CIO role.”

The human side of any ERP implementation is important to the success of both a company’s organizational change management strategy as well as the success of its ERP project on a whole. To make sure everybody in the company is on the same page, it may be a good idea for the CIO to shift focus from IT strategy to business strategy and leadership – at least for the duration of the ERP implementation. This disturbs the balance yet again, but this time, it’s in the company’s favor. When employees are clear about what to expect in terms of future change, the implementing company will be well-positioned to achieve all expected business benefits from its ERP system.

Following are six ways CIOs can effectively lead large-scale ERP implementations by focusing more on the human side of IT:

  1. Remember your role on the executive team and be sure your big-picture mindset and focus is conveyed to all employees.
  2. Use your unique skillset and IT knowledge to position yourself as a strategic partner and help employees view IT in terms of its ability to make their jobs easier.
  3. When speaking with your executive team, emphasize the importance of new technology from a business strategy point of view.
  4. Seek commitment and involvement from not just the IT department but from employees across the organization.
  5. Advocate for change by asking employees about their diverse needs and by recruiting change agents to make sure these needs are met by the new ERP system.
  6. Trust your IT team to work hand in hand with ERP consultants to execute the technical aspects of the ERP project and delegate tasks accordingly.

To find out more about how people and processes should overshadow technology during an ERP implementation, visit our Organizational Change Management page. Also read our IT Strategy page to learn about how IT fits into the bigger picture of an organization’s success.

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